Working Backwards

3 min readOct 27, 2021

This is the name of the book that I read in one go. Business books are really really bad these days. Any tom, dick and harry can write a book. I avoided business books for a long time and in the last 3 weeks, I decided to find some good ones and read. I bought this book and couldn’t keep it down. I completed the book in less than 24 hours and it was worth its weight in gold.

The book is about the insights, stories and the genius behind the phenomenal success of Amazon. It was written by two ex-Amazon executives who give an insider view of what made Amazon so successful.

Here are my 3 takeaways. I am simply summarizing it in 3 points to be concise and not bore you with too many details.

Problems: Everything starts with a customer problem. Amazon strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company and every thing that they create starts from the customer. One of the problems that they wanted to solve was how to reduce the shipping costs for the customers and deliver the product in less than 2 days. If they did that, they could drive more sales online. I was recently studying the logistics space and after reading this book, I realize that the entire logistics tech investment has started primarily because of what Amazon has done to capture the need and change customer behaviours.

Principles: Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. In addition, the book talks extensively about the 14 leadership principles and how they take decisions based on these principles. This is super powerful. For any decision, the principles served us a lighthouse and it was their constitution. When they were doing post mortem for why something failed, they could quickly figure out where they strayed away from the principles. The example of competing with apple to push the product into the market quickly resulted in a failure and they could immediately shine light on not following the principle ‘customer obsession rather than competitor focus’ that resulted in the failure.

Processes: Every process from hiring, marketing, product development has been codified. Bar Raisers for hiring, 6 page memo instead of power point presentations, PR/FAQ, input focused metrics versus output focused metrics are processes that we can all take and apply it in our own businesses and work settings. I am now starting to think about how I can apply each one of these things in my work setting.

After reading this book, my respect for Jeff Bezos grew immensely. This is a guy who has endless curiosity, is relentlessly detail oriented, perseveres with a long term vision, invents endlessly and obsessively customer centric. This guy is a banyan tree that has created a big tree that can shelter birds, animals, travellers etc and this tree now shoots branches down to the earth that makes the tree even stronger while each of the branches (Prime, Kindle, AWS, Alexa) create their own banyan tree.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone and if you are in business, you cannot afford to avoid this book. Thanks to the authors for putting together such an inspiring piece of work loaded with insights that can be readily transferred into our working lives.




Father, Entrepreneur & Writer; Edison award winning innovation; Daytime Emmy nominated animation; Author of two books; WEF Davos, Cannes Lions, TEDx