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John Rossman on How to Innovate Like Amazon

What makes Amazon great?

Shep Hyken interviews John Rossman, author of The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles of the World’s Most Disruptive Company and former executive at Amazon. John shares how Amazon creates a culture of operational excellence and innovation – and why you should, too.

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First Up:

Shep Hyken’s opening comments focus on Amazon, and how when it started, it was only selling books. At first, nobody thought much about them. But soon that started to change. Major book retailers started to struggle; some even went out of business. The internet was starting to change how buying books worked, and Amazon was ahead of the curve. Jeff Bezos showed the book industry – and the rest of the business world – the importance of constant innovation. Why is it so important?  Somebody in your industry, like Jeff Bezos, is likely going to find a way to do things better, quicker, cheaper, faster or more conveniently. Because of its innovation, Amazon went from an online bookseller to the leading e-commerce company. And, even today at the top of their game, they’re still constantly pushing the envelope to become even better and more efficient.

Featured Interview:

Shep begins the interview by asking John Rossman what he believes has made Amazon great. John shares that one of the big differences between Amazon and other companies is that at Amazon’s leaders are empowered and expected to make changes and to do the right thing. They avoid the mentality of “this is my job, and that is an issue outside of my job, so I am going to ignore it or leave it for somebody else.” In short, they’re expected to engage issues rather than respond to them with an excuse.

When you are dealing with hard, new, innovative concepts, it is always easy to come up with reasons why something can’t get done. But the expectation of a leader and innovator at Amazon is to get it done – to make something new and bigger. And they get there by constantly forcing themselves to figure out how to create a better experience for their customers.

Top Takeaways:

  • Obsess over your customers. Leaders at Amazon work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust.
  • Invent new capabilities and simplify things. Making things simple for the customer can be as hard as inventing new capabilities. Simple is not always easy to do.
  • At Amazon, the customer experience is never done. When you think of the customer experience as being broader than just what your products or services provide, you will come up with new ideas on how to expand your business. That’s how Amazon grew from being just an internet-based seller of books to the e-commerce giant that it is today.
  • Deliver hard results, despite dependencies and setbacks. When you set the expectation that there is no choice but to succeed, then leadership and employees will find ways to succeed that they had never expected.


John Rossman is the author of The Amazon Way book series, and a Managing Director at Alvarez and Marsal (A&M), a global professional services firm. John is an expert in innovative and digital business models and organizational change, including internet of things (IoT). Prior to A&M, John was an executive at where he launched their third party selling business, which today is over 50% of all Amazon units and supports over 3 million sellers.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, best-selling author and your host of Amazing Business Radio.

“Spending money on the customer experience is the best marketing you can get.” – John Rossman


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This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:

  1. What makes Amazon great?
  2. Why should you become obsessed with the customer?
  3. How is the Internet of Things reshaping business?
  4. Why is it important to continually innovate?
  5. What is the best form of advertising or marketing?
  6. Is customer service marketing?


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