WWJD? Of course, that stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” But John Rossman often gets asked, “What Would Jeff Do?”
“Jeff” would be Jeff Bezos of Amazon, where Rossman was a key manager during the organization’s critical growth years between 2002 and 2005. Many other companies with .com after their name had folded during the dot-com crash in 2000-01 and in the ensuing recession.
In 2002, Rossman was among the dot-com casualties in Seattle when he heard about an opportunity at Amazon, a company which was heralded as the future of online shopping. But Amazon was still largely associated with books and had just started getting into other segments in the early 2000s.
When Rossman started, the company had yet to show a profit and had laid off 1,300 workers the previous year. So, joining the company was not the sure bet for success that it is more than a decade later. Amazon was not yet The Everything Store.
Pretty quickly, Rossman realized the company was always thinking far bigger and further into the future than most companies do. And it was doing that while still obsessing over the day-to-day details. He was witnessing The Amazon Way.
After a stint as director of merchant integration and then enterprise services, he left the company in 2005 and has been preaching the Tao of Jeff, speaking and writing about applying the company’s methods of success.
In 2014, Rossman wrote his first book, The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind The World's Most Disruptive Company. This year, he released his third book, Think Like Amazon: 50 1/2 Ideas To Become A Digital Leader.
But what does all this mean to you? After all, you aren’t looking to sell thousands of products in massive quantities. You provide individual service. Rossman says Amazon’s method of long-term planning while remaining focused on the day-to-day business is a successful model that scales down to the smallest operations. Thinking of the customer first and then building the service to meet that customer’s needs simply makes sense.
In this interview with Publisher Paul Feldman, Rossman reveals how Amazon manages to dominate so many segments, and he also answers the question “What Would Jeff Do?” if Bezos were to get into insurance.