10 tips to surviving Amazon

The average Amazon employee lasts about a 1.5 years. As someone that just passed their 8 year mark, people ask me all the time what advice I have on how to make it.

Here are my top 10 tips to making it past the 1.5 year mark.

  1. Ask the dumb questions. If you don’t ask they will assume you know and chances are someone else in the room has the same question. Do your own research on all the wikis, but be willing to ask the dumb question. It is how you learn.
  2. Sit AT the table. Ladies, I’m especially looking at you. It drives me crazy in our WBR meetings when people purposefully sit in the back chairs so they can multitask and not have to really participate in the conversation. Multitask all you want, but show up to the meeting. Sit at the table, sit in the middle, sit by the most senior person in the room, and be a part of the conversation.
  3. Listen. No, like really listen. Don’t get defensive and try to prove yourself right. Be genuinely open and curious to the feedback you are receiving. Then do what they suggest. It’s almost always in your best interest.
  4. Save good doc examples. Doc writing is a skill you have to learn through trial and error, but if you can’t write a doc in the Amazon format, you are going to struggle. Save a copy of every doc you think is good even if it’s not directly related to your job. Having a stockpile of good examples helps lower the learning curve.
  5. Create your own work/life balance. Like any company, Amazon will take as much as you are willing to give. I’ve never had a manager tell me I needed to stay later or work more hours. So, don’t tell yourself the same thing. Work while you are at work, don’t overcommit to projects, and make sure to maintain a life outside of work. You’re not impressing anyone by sending emails late at night.
  6. Leave work at work. Stress and worry about all the things while you are in the office, but when you go home leave it all at work. My house has a huge tree out front of it and I would visualize putting all my work stress into a bag and throwing it into the tree each night. Then in the morning I would pick it up again and go back to the stress. It’s cheese, but it totally helped me to stop constantly spinning on all my work projects at home.
  7. Focus on the data and not the drama. There’s math and then there’s everything else. Making a mistake does not mean you are an idiot (drama), it just means you learned something (data). Having an ambiguous project does not mean it has to be hard and confusing (drama), it just means you get to create your own project plan (data). Focus on staying with the data and not making everything so dramatic.
  8. Own your own career. Your manager will change. Your team will re-org. It’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself. Keep track of your key deliverables and the data that supports them. Write your own promo docs. Keep networking a priority. Find or create your ideal job. Be very aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Be clear on what you want to get out of your work experience and go after it. Don’t wait around for the right time and the right thing. Own it.
  9. Fail fast and fail often. If you are new, focus on delivering something as quickly as possible, even if it’s work. The faster you’re willing the fail, the more you will learn and the quicker you will succeed. It’s so much easier to explain why you missed a goal that you tried 10 different ways to achieve then missing a goal you tried 1 really well thought out way to achieve.
  10. Have fun. Be the fun. Get to know the people around you as humans and show up as one as well. Share the funny memes, host Wine Wednesdays, buy a giant gong and ring it loud each time the team has a win, give people a random word and challenge them to use it in their next meeting. Whatever it is, find a way to have fun every day in the office.

What’s your tip? Email me and let me know what you would tell someone at Amazon to help them make it past their 1-year mark.

You got this. 

LB