Jeff Bezos’ secret to success: The boss always has to speak last in meetings

Being the head of a large technology company is not easy and your direct collaborators know it well. It takes a lot of talent and a left hand to deal with collaborators, employees and managers who, after all, are the ones who make the company move forward.

The Jeff Bezos two-pizza rule for making meetings as productive as possible is well known, but another of the e-commerce mogul’s secrets may not have been so well known: being the last to speak in those meetings.

Bezos, a master in the art of meeting

Building an empire like Amazon should not be an easy task. That is why its founder Jeff Bezos seems to have developed a special ability to get the most out of meetings with his employees.

His current partner, Lauren Sánchez, founder of the aerial filming recording company Black Ops Aviation assured in an interview in The Wall Street Journal that sharing life with Jeff Bezos was a constant master class in running a business.

The businesswoman has commented that she has many meetings with her team every day, and she always took the initiative in meetings until one day, Bezos gave her one of the keys for a meeting to be really useful: “No, no, no. You are the boss. You must speak last. You let everyone else speak and present their points of view, so they don’t get swayed by your opinion.”

In this way, Jeff Bezos makes sure to obtain his real opinion on the subject from his collaborators, and then, with all the information and different points of view, make the appropriate decision.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, also confessed in an interview prefer to listen to their subordinates before exposing their opinion to know all the data and points of view of their team.

Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, asked for opinions in writing

Bezos’s strategy of letting his collaborators speak in meetings has other versions. “Another thing Jeff taught me is: if you’re going to have a meeting, have the person running the meeting write a document about what’s going to be discussed and why. And it cannot have more than six pages”, Sánchez explained in his interview.

This is a strategy that Bezos applied at Amazon by banning PowerPoint presentations to replace them with structured memos for their meetings. These memoranda were mandatory reading prior to the meeting, so that when it was attended, all the members had all the information and could concentrate on providing solutions.

The founder of Twitter recognized that, in their meetings, their employees wrote their opinions and ideas about the reason to be discussed in the meeting in a Google document that was read and commented on during the meeting.

That way, each employee could develop their opinion in a more structured and clear way, and Dorsey got the information he needed without any of his employees feeling coerced by disagreeing with the boss.

Another of the Amazon founder’s obsessions is to make meetings last as short a time as possible. From there arises the technique of the two pizzas, ensuring that the meetings are attended by as few people as possible so that they do not take too long.

According to a study carried out by Microsoft, the human brain needs frequent breaks to achieve optimal performance and avoid excessive stress, so people who endure meetings of several hours tend to disconnect and their attention plummets, so in the end the meeting will not be fully productive.

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Image | Daniel Obershaus

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Jeff Bezos’ secret to success: The boss always has to speak last in meetings