Sunday, December 1, 2013

12 quotations for MBA students: -Jeff Bezos rephrased in Miyagi-talk.

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder and CEO of, is already a cult figure in tech business having steered his company Amazon to a glittering runaway success. So when he says something on how to do a business or what to do in a business, even management gurus and global consultants sit up and listen. So I rounded up  12 of his quotations on various business related topics that I think management students across 3000 business schools in India should study. However , the problem with 95% of such business schools in India  is the inability of their students to speak , write or comprehend grammatically accurate English. Often, in my experience, I'd see them write out applications (for whatever) in sentences with no clear positioning of subject, verb or predicate; smattered as they are with words that strive to convey the meaning with as little effort as possible. To suit the understanding of these pupils, it struck me to rephrase Bezos' quotations as if it was Mr. Miyagi who was talking. Mr. Miyagi is the fictional  Karate master from Okinawa, Japan (played superbly by the Japanese-American actor Pat Morita)  from the movie Karate Kid part-II. Intensely philosophical and taciturn, Mr. Miyagi's speech is always terse and to the point where grammar takes a leap out of the window but the meaning of his words hit the listener like an arrow hitting a bull's eye. Such wisdom in so little words. Below are Bezo's original quotes  along with my rephrases written in what I've termed as Miyagi-talk ( A set of English words as Mr.Miyagi would speak them). Hope the readers enjoy them,

  1. On Complacency:
          "A company shouldn't get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn't last."-Jeff Bezos
            No fun in shiny. Shiny not last.- Mr. Miyagi

     2. On Innovation :
          "I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways
          to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out."

    Frugality drive innovation. Get out of tight box? Find way out.

  3. On Progress:

           "If you're competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing
           something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering."

           No good if wait for competition. Focus on customer. You become

   4. On Haters: 

    "If you never want to be criticized, for goodness' sake don't do  anything new."

     No one criticize if you do nothing.

   5. On Motivation:
          "I strongly believe that missionaries make better products. They care more.
          For a missionary, it's not just about the business. There has to be a business,and the
          business has to make sense but that's not why you do it. You do it because you have
           something meaningful that motivates you."
            Business not main mission. Business inside you if you see
         6. On Choosing Friends:

             "Life's too short to hang out with people who aren't resourceful."

      Friends no good if not resourceful. Life too short for that.
      7. On Morals:
            "The one thing that offends me the most is when I walk by a bank and see ads trying
            to convince people to take out second mortgages on their home so they can go on
            vacation.That's approaching evil."

              Advertisement asking to mortgage house & go vacation is
      no good. Is evil.

    8. On Strategy:

             "We've had three big ideas at Amazon that we've stuck with for 18 years, and
            they're  the reason we're successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient."
     Your success from three big ideas only. Customer first. You
     Invent. You be patient. 

    9. On Growth:

            "All businesses need to be young forever. If your customer base ages with you,
            you're  Woolworth's."

     Business always young. Customer always young.

   10. On pivoting:

           "If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not
           flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution
           to a problem you're trying to solve."
     Stubborn is good. No give up on experiments.
     Flexible also good. See alternate solutions.

   11. On Marketing:

            "In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70%
            of your  time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts."

             Old times;30% time making & 70% time shouting. New times; you
      do opposite.

   12. On Pricing:

            "There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those
            that work to charge less. We will be the second."

              Companies, two types. Number one  work to charge more. Other
      work to try charge less. We number two.