Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
Jeff Bezos is a tough audience.Amazon employees return from presentations to the CEO “bruised: emotionally, intellectually, often career-ily,” according to former Amazon employee, and current Google engineer Steve Yegge.
But, there’s a way to impress Bezos. Treat him like a “hyper-intelligent alien with a tangential interest in human affairs,” and game your presentation so he’ll pay attention.
How do you do that? With a nifty trick from Yegge, which is revealed below.
If Yegge’s name sounds familiar, it’s because last week he accidentally published a big rant about Google+’s shortcomings*. In that rant, he ragged on Amazon saying, “Amazon does everything wrong,” and Bezos in particular saying he, “makes ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies.”
As a follow up to the Google rant, Yegge clarified his position on Amazon and Jeff Bezos. He wanted to “paint a more balanced picture,” so he wrote up an awesome “war story” from the time he presented before Bezos at Amazon.
Here are the key points:
- Bezos doesn’t allow PowerPoint, he only accepts prose. So, make your presentation a narrative.
- Bezos already knows everything, so make sure you know everything. “Write it exactly the way you would write it for a leading professor or industry expert on the subject.”
- Bezos will outsmart you, so be ready for it. Yegge forgot one key detail. Bezos called him on it. Yegge just laughed and said, “Yup, you got me. I don’t know why it’s not in there. It should be. I’m a dork. I’ll add it.” Bezos laughed, and then they moved on.
- CUT OUT EVERY THIRD PARAGRAPH FROM YOUR PRESENTATION. This is the most important point, so we made it all caps. Yegge wrote it up so well that we’re just going to excerpt it here. It’s genius:
Bezos is so goddamned smart that you have to turn it into a game for him or he’ll be bored and annoyed with you. That was my first realisation about him. Who knows how smart he was before he became a billionaire — let’s just assume it was “really frigging smart”, since he did build Amazon from scratch. But for years he’s had armies of people taking care of everything for him. He doesn’t have to do anything at all except dress himself in the morning and read presentations all day long. So he’s really, REALLY good at reading presentations…
So you have to start tearing out whole paragraphs, or even pages, to make it interesting for him. He will fill in the gaps himself without missing a beat. And his brain will have less time to get annoyed with the slow pace of your brain.
I mean, imagine what it would be like to start off as an incredibly smart person, arguably a first-class genius, and then somehow wind up in a situation where you have a general’s view of the industry battlefield for 10 years. Not only do you have more time than anyone else, and access to more information than anyone else, you also have this long-term eagle-eye perspective that only a handful of people in the world enjoy.
In some sense you wouldn’t even be human anymore. People like Jeff are better regarded as hyper-intelligent aliens with a tangential interest in human affairs.
*He said the rant was actually well received at Google. It was mostly laughed at.