Even though we
can't seem to explain our total fangirl obsession with Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos
sure can. In fact, the money mag has named Bezos its 2012 Businessperson of the Year.
Here are seven things we learned about the brain behind one of our favorite online retailing empires from Fortune
's profile, "Amazon's Jeff Bezos: The Ultimate Disrupter"
:1. Senior management meeting agendas at Amazon include a preliminary silent-reading portion,
where team members read six-page memos... to themselves.
"For new employees, it's a strange initial experience," [Bezos] tells Fortune. "They're just not accustomed to sitting silently in a room and doing study hall with a bunch of executives." Bezos says the act of communal reading guarantees the group's undivided attention. Writing a memo is an even more important skill to master. "Full sentences are harder to write," he says. "They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking."
2. Jeff Bezos is "a delightful human being,"
according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.3. He holds his employees to high standards:
"He is very demanding. He gets angry when he feels like people aren't being competent," a source told Fortune
.4. Bezos doesn't believe in typical Silicon Valley office perks:
No paid meals, un-elaborate furniture, and lower cash compensation means the savings get passed on to the customer.
Unlike in much of Silicon Valley, Amazon employees pay for their meals. Desks are slabs of wood that could be used for doors. For years Bezos chose ultracheap shipping rates for customers over expensive TV advertising. The penny-pinching applies to salaries, which are low throughout the 80,000-person-plus organization. "We pay very low cash compensation relative to most companies," says Bezos. "We also have no incentive compensation of any kind. And the reason we don't is because it is detrimental to teamwork."
5. He doesn't pay himself a lot—
Bezos' annual salary is "just under $82,000." Don't feel too
bad for him, though—his "founders shares are work about $19 billion."6. Bezos reads for fun—oh, and funds space travel projects for ha-has.
"A science-fiction buff who is funding space exploration as a side project, he just finished The Hydrogen Sonata
by Iain Banks."7. He's responsible.
"I have realized about myself that I'm very motivated by people counting on me," he told Fortune
. "I like to be counted on. I like to have a bunch of customers who count on us. I like being part of a team. We're all counting on each other. I like the fact that shareholders are counting on us. And so I find that very motivating."