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

The secret to really being customer obsessed

Customer obsession is another one of our Amazon Leadership Principles. (See past posts about ownership and how to commit when you disagree). It’s one of the things that I really like about Amazon. I’ve worked for other companies that claim to be customer obsessed, but when it comes down to it they always put the company first.

I love that Amazon genuinely believes in doing the right things for the customers, EVERY TIME. And they mean it. I’ve seen teams go above and beyond to correct a mistake. I can’t legally give you all the detailed examples, but know that Amazon will ALWAYS obsess over the customer experience above anything else.

As I’ve been trying to apply the Leadership Principles to myself and my ambitions outside of work it made me really think about who my customer is and how I can take this principle to the next level.

For my coaching business I know my customers are Amazonians looking to be more confident. But if I take this principle a step deeper, I think I’m my real customer I need to apply this to.

I’m all for customer obsession with my clients, but as I work on building my own business in addition to my day job at Amazon, I have to start from myself and work backwards. I have to learn how to earn and keep my own trust. I need to see what other coaches are doing, but obsess over what I’m doing.

So how do you do this?

For me it looks like the following:

Working backwards: At work this comes in the form of 6-page documents clearly articulating the problem and solutions. Personally, it starts with me getting honest and clear on what my goal is, what time I’m going to work on reaching it, and what time I’m going to allow myself to rest. The key is to mentally let myself rest during my down time so I can be all in during my work time.

Earn and Keep Trust: At work this looks like being honest, transparent, admitting mistakes, and never compromising the customer experience for a business tradeoff. Personally, this looks like making a detailed plan of what I’m going to accomplish and doing it even when I don’t want to. Honoring my commitments to myself is how I know I trust myself. If it’s on my calendar, I trust it will get done. I continue to show up for myself so I don’t doubt my abilities anymore.

Pay attention to competitors, but obsess over customers: I stay on top of what other coaches are doing. I listen to the podcasts, attend the workshops, and read all the things, but I use it as a way to learn and get inspired. I’m not worried about what others are doing. I’m focused on what I’m doing, what value I’m adding, and how I can help even more people. I constantly create new content, do my self-coaching, and lean on my coach to help me see what’s holding me back.  

So my challenge to you this week is to take this Leadership Principle of Customer Obsession and figure out how you can apply it to yourself. If you were your own customer, how would you apply this principle to your goals and aspirations? Learn to trust yourself and obsess over the value you bring.

You got this!

Want help applying this to your situation and taking it to the next level, let’s jump on the phone together. Grab time on my calendar HERE.

Doing this one thing for 2 minutes will lower your anxiety

No one feels great all of the time. But you don’t have to let the bad days take over and turn into bad weeks and bad jobs.

There are always so many days were it just feels so overwhelming. There’s too much to do, nothing is going according to plan, and you are worried about what’s going to backfire because things are falling through the cracks.

I’ve been there.  

Feeling that constant hum of anxiety is the worst. It’s why so many of us dread Sunday nights. It’s why getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge.

We all try to deal with the stress and anxiety by eating junk food, drinking, taking a day off or even just pretending everything is fine.

But everything is not fine.

There’s a better way to deal with the stress, but it’s going to feel a bit counter intuitive so stay with me.

Instead of trying to push away the stress and frustration with alcohol, social media, and donuts, try actually feeling the stress and anxiety.

Get out of your head and into your body.

What are they physical symptoms you have when you feel anxious? Where do you feel it?  What does it feel like? Does it move? Does it come and go? What color is it? Does it change your body temperature?

We are wired to believe feeling these negative emotions is bad so we try to do everything we can to avoid them.  But trying to avoid them just makes them worse and more intense.

Stop pretending they are not there or like your only options are numbing out and just be willing to feel it. I promise you it’s so much better than you think.

The more you are willing to feel stressed and actually know when you are literally feeling stress and when it’s actually anxiety, the less intense it’s going to become.

Remember that feelings are just chemicals in your body caused by your thoughts so the more you feel them, the faster your body literally breaks them down and processes them out of your system.

Here’s what it looked like for me this week.

We had a Sev 2 escalation and I was on point to drive the communications company wide including to a few L11’s. Additionally, the message I needed to communicate was not only bad news that impacted their work, but we were not able to solve it for them. They had to resolve the problem on their own with a 3rd party.

I was stressed out. I did not want to screw this up, but also had a tight timeline and multiple other projects being dropped due to the escalation. So on the status call, I just sat there and felt the stress.

It felt like a pit in my stomach and tightness in my chest. It made me hot and antsy. It was green and orange and was like a slimy sludge that moved around my chest making it tight. I started to breath deeper and had a hard time focusing. It came and went, but after about 3 minutes of noticing how else it felt, it passed.

I still had to write the communication, but now when it came time to talk about it, I asked better questions, confidently outlined the plan, and delivered multiple messages that exceeded the teams expectations.

So, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, try turning into it and literally feel it in your body and it will go away.

You got this.

P.S. Want help applying this? Let’s jump on the phone and figure it out together. Grab time on my calendar here.

Don’t do this if you already know exactly how to reach your goals

It’s that time of year at work where teams are putting together their business plans for the following year. We request and justify headcount, talk about growth opportunities to support new ideas and layout our priorities of the work we will do to reach our goals.

 

At Amazon, we call it Operating Planning or OP1. OP2 is a check in 6 months later to see where we are on track and where we need to refresh our strategy to reach our goals and re-set expectations.

 

Creating a solid OP1 that we can deliver on takes a lot of work. We look at all the data from the past year showing our strengths and growth opportunities. We forecast growth for the coming year and detail our strategy on how we are going to hit our growth goals. Leadership teams work together to write multiple 6-page documents detailing these things. At the end, we have a unified plan detailing our goals, resources, and priorities for the coming year.

 

I love this exercise because it creates a clear expectation on what we are prioritizing, what our goals are, and what resources we will have to get there.

 

I also hate this exercise because it is so much work and there are always more requests for resources than what gets approved in the end.

 

Have you ever thought about applying this same concept to your own goals and ambitions?

 

If you are like me, I’ve always got a goal I’m working towards, but my plan to get there is a little fuzzy. This year, I’m writing an OP1 for myself. I’m looking at this past year and getting honest about what worked, what did not, what milestones I need to hit to reach my goals, what obstacles I need solutions to, what resources I have available, and what success looks like.

 

Going through this exercise for myself has helped me better level set how I’m spending my time. It’s made me realize how many resources I have available to me that I’m not taking advantage of. It’s made me realize how quick I am to deprioritize things for myself when they get “hard” or are “not fun.” It’s also made me realize how much I really do want to hit my goals and that I can have a plan to get there.

 

So, what do you want to have accomplished a year from now? How are you prioritizing your time to get there? What resources do you have available and how are you going to track things along the way to know if you are going to get there?

 

Write an OP1 for yourself and work just as hard at it as you will the OP1 at work. Seeing what you are personally able to accomplish is a year is what it’s all about.

 

You got this!

LB

 

P.S. What help applying this to your specific situation? Let’s jump on the phone and come up with a plan together. Grab time on my calendar here.

Are you owning your career?

Ownership is one of the leadership principles that is required to make it at Amazon.

The ownership principle is stated as: Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”

This principles is one of the many that we are evaluated and promoted against. It’s used to make business decisions and prioritize work. It’s even an important principles we hire people against.

But have you ever thought about how this principle might apply directly to you in your own life? If a leader is an owner, are you really owning your career and goals?

If your goal is to get promoted, how can you show more ownership in this? I’ve coached so many people that are annoyed because their manager keeps changing and they feel like it’s pushing back their promotion timeline. But what would an owner say? 

Why is your manager changing a problem? How can you better own your promotion? If you are frustrated your manager doesn’t have your work history in order to write a doc, be an owner and write your own doc. Create your own business case for why the time is right. Figure out why they are hesitant to put your doc up for promotion and be confident in telling them why you disagree.

Or maybe your goal is to change job functions. You can keep having coffee chats with people and looking at open positions, or you can start acting like an owner. What would an owner do if they wanted to learn something new or change jobs?

Maybe you start offering to help on projects in the other job function or take a class on the weekends to learn a new skill. An owner would not wait around for the perfect opportunity and the perfect time. They would keep the long-term goal in mind and start taking massive action to figure out how to make the switch.  

Or maybe you are so overwhelmed and stressed out because you have too much to do at work. How could you act more like an owner?

You could keep freaking out and getting more anxious, or you could do something about it. Maybe you talk to you manager about moving deadlines or reprioritizing. Or maybe you ask for help or stop micro managing certain elements of the project.

Moral of the story, ask yourself how well you are doing at owning your career. How could you act as a better owner in reaching your goals? How could you stop blaming other people and things outside of your control and start taking back ownership of yourself? 

You got this!

 

 

 

Want help applying this to your specific situation? Let’s jump on the phone and figure it out together. Grab time on my calendar.