How Does Jeff Bezos Take Notes? - Senstone

How Does Jeff Bezos Take Notes?

7 May, 2024

If you know how Jeff Bezos takes notes, you have sneaked a peek into the mind of the richest person on Earth (as of 2024). That means a lot. Even if you don’t intend to become a billionaire, picking up some organizational habits from one is definitely a good idea.

How does Jeff Bezos take notes?


In the realm of corporate leadership, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, stands out not only for his ventures but also for his creative approach to decision-making. At the core of Bezos’s methodology lies his unique note-taking technique, which has garnered attention for its departure from conventional practices.


First of all, Jeff Bezos likes books and doesn’t like PowerPoint presentations. He deems them inefficient for meetings with CEOs.


Instead, Bezos champions the use of narrative memos. His preference for narratives over bullet points has become a hallmark of Amazon’s corporate culture.


Yes, we are talking about the legendary six pager memo.


Here is the gist.


Before each meeting, Bezos expects to receive a lengthy narrative memo that is written in a clear language and covers the topic of the meeting in detail. Everyone present receives a printed copy.


After that, participants read the memos in perfect silence for 20 minutes or so, allowing for individual reflection before group discussion can even begin. Writing in the margins is encouraged. This not only ensures that everyone is equally well-informed but also promotes a more thoughtful conversation, says Bezos.


But it’s not the six-page format per se that matters. According to Working Backwards, one the most comprehensive books on Amazon’s corporate culture, it’s all about thinking out of the box.


A good narrative memo, as Jeff Bezos stated in one of his interviews, can take up to a month to finish. The writer has to dissect the topic, consider all possibilities, and fit the information into six pages.


(If the meeting concerns a new project, the very first thing to appear is a press release for the hypothetical, non-existent product. In that, Amazon “works backwards”.)


There are several reasons the six page memos are productive:


  • unlike PowerPoint presentations, memos are structured and leave no room for interruptions or persuasion techniques

  • more time to think and come up with ideas

  • …which makes the following discussion messy in a good way

  • the writer cannot just wing it as vague language is not tolerated

  • you get to keep the main “script” of a meeting, plus your notes


In essence, Jeff Bezos’s note-taking technique reflects his commitment to excellence and belief in the power of well-structured notes. As Amazon continues to chart new territories and disrupt whole industries, Bezos’s narrative approach to decision-making remains a guiding principle for the company and a source of inspiration for CEOs everywhere.


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