Honoring The Letter: How Jeff Bezos Looks Back While Always Looking Forward

In the fast-moving, always-on, always online world, we sometimes forget how important the letter is.

This week, Jeff Bezos commemorated twenty years of his shareholder newsletter, which is a journey through the past year of learnings, metrics, and performance at Amazon. In the most recent letter, he announced that after 13 years post-launch of Prime, they exceeded 100 million users globally. Until now, we have only been left to estimate because that number has remained an internal secret.

Today, the letter remains must-read material for not only shareholders, but other business leaders and executives. This week, he gave interesting insights into how Amazon does presentations -- they don't. Instead, employees are tasked with writing "narratively structured, six-page stories." That set the tone for a theme in the letter documenting Amazon's incredibly high-standards. According to Bezos, these high standards are both "teachable" and "contagious" across a company.

To achieve them requires four critical elements.

"So, the four elements of high standards as we see it: they are teachable, they are domain specific, you must recognize them, and you must explicitly coach realistic scope," Bezos writes. "Building a culture of high standards is well worth the effort, and there are many benefits."

In addition, Bezos looked back (and included) the first-ever note to shareholders and admired how far they've come. It was a fascinating look at the history of Amazon long before the company has achieved the success it has universally been known for today.

The letter, which you can read entirely here, is well worth your time. Author Bryan Eisenberg wrote a book all about the Seattle company and on Facebook today he said, "I suspect if more people read these I wouldn't have written 'Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It.' "

If you could write your consumers a letter, what would you say?

Thanks for reading,
The Shiftonomics Team

News ⚡️

💰How Much Does Your CEO Make? | Via: Orange County Register
Now, that question will be answered for all employees of publicly-traded companies.

In recent years, the nation’s 8,100 public companies began giving investors a nonbinding “say-on-pay” vote on executive compensation. Now, those same companies also must divulge the pay ratio between their CEOs and their rank-and-file, dividing the top boss’s earnings by those of the median employee — the level at which half the company’s workers make more and half make less.

Whether you’re a Wal-Mart cashier, a Bank of America teller or a Boeing engineer, you’ll be able to go to SEC.gov, the commission’s website, click on “company filings” and compare what you make to the chief executive’s take. You also can see median pay information for colleagues and look up the compensation ratios at comparable businesses.

👋 Farewell, Bon-Ton | Via: CNBC
Bon-Ton is headed to liquidation, and more than 200 stores will be put on the chopping block as the business winds down and vacates malls across the U.S.

The department store chain, which also owns banners Carson's, Younkers and Elder-Beerman, was forced into filing for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, weighed down by a burgeoning debt load and struggling to compete online with the likes of Amazon and Walmart. It initially planned to close only about 40 locations.

The winning bidder for the retailer's assets is scheduled to be approved on Wednesday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, according to court documents.

📉 Retail Closures On Pace To Break Records | Via: CNBC
Since 2008, commercial real estate services firm CoStar Group has been tracking the amount of retail square footage slated to close annually. Already in April, more than 90 million square feet of space is expected to be vacated, including Bon-Ton's stores, in 2018. That's easily on track to surpass a record 105 million square feet of space shuttered last year, said Suzanne Mulvee, a senior real estate strategist at CoStar. All it will take is another handful of closures.

The Big Idea 🤔

🍜 5 Japanese Chains Taking Root in the U.S. | Via: Nation's Restaurant News
The swift rise of ramen restaurants across the U.S. has inspired a new wave of Japanese concepts that are not focused on sushi.Sushi is now considered as much a part of the American culinary experience as pizza. Ramen restaurants can be found in most major cities. And now, a growing number of chains based in Asia are seeing opportunity in the U.S., saying diners are ready and willing to try new dishes from Japan.

Asian flavors in general are popular: More than half of American consumers want to see more Asian-inspired dishes on U.S. restaurant menus, according to Datassential.

Here are five Japan-born or -inspired chains that are plotting growth across North America.

🍕Remembering the Experiences of Pizza Hut | Via: RetroRamblings
If you came of age during the 1980s or 1990s, you probably have some fond memories of Pizza Hut.

The ubiquitous slanted red roof, the ever-present salad bar, red glazed candles, stained-glass lights, checkered table cloths -- and who could forget the bread sticks? If you were lucky, your local 'Hut' had a juke box and a double-sided Galaga/Mrs. Pac Man arcade game.

Retro Ramblings, penned a nostalgic story about what they remembered most about the Pizza Hut visits of their youth. What stands out is that those visits, which are deeply memorable and personable today, are formed from the true experience Pizza Hut once maintained. It was more than just pizza, it was the environment in his local restaurant. There are lots of lessons, well beyond the pangs of nostalgia, about how important and vital the experiential is to a restaurant visit.

🎨 The Art of Storytelling | Via: Shane Snow's Medium
There's nothing new about storytelling. It's been around as long as we have -- stories etched onto cave walls 34,000 years ago illustrate this point. Yet, it's durability and place in our life is equal parts ubiquitous and enduring. Simply put: We love stories.

As author and marketing expert Shane Snows writes, it's also one of the most important skills to have in an ever-changing workforce. And increasingly, consumers care less about your marketing goals, metrics, and ROI -- what truly resonates with them is compelling storytelling. Businesses that can weave these super interesting narratives around their brand, will end up winners.

📱Like Shopping Online...In Real Life | Via: GQ
Nordstrom is more experimental and forward-thinking than almost every other department store in the world. “They are nimbler than a lot of the other companies,” says Oliver Chen, a retail analyst for Cowen. If anyone is going to thrive in this new era, the brains at Nordstrom think, it's going to be them.

By sizing up the retailer and its new store, we can get an accurate portrait of what a successful department store looks like in 2018. And by peering into the treasure chest of data Nordstrom has used to shape what this store looks like, we can get a clearer picture of how and what men are buying from department stores in 2018—and why opening a department store at all is still a compelling idea.

Heard Around The Web 💬

🛑 U.S. Workers Report "Innovation" Disconnect | Via: Ernst & Young
A new external survey released today by Ernst & Young LLP (EY) reveals a growing chasm between how senior-level and junior-level employees view their ability to be innovative at the organization in which they work, with only 54 percent of entry-level people saying that new ideas are celebrated internally, compared with 91 percent of senior executives. Interestingly, the disparity was most prevalent by organizational level as opposed to age or generational breakdown.

🥇There's Gold In That Butter | Via: Eater
Chances are you've seen Kerrygold Butter in your local grocery store. Today, it is hugely popular among home cooks, professional chefs and is featured everywhere from Martha Stewart to Instagram. How it got to be such a hit, is a great story.

As of 2018, Kerrygold is the second-best-selling branded butter in the U.S. The gold-wrappered import sold nearly 23,000 tons of butter in the U.S. last year, and $1 billion dollars worth in more than 80 markets worldwide. In the less than 20 years since its U.S. launch, it has outsold every brand except Land O’Lakes, which, since it was founded in 1921, enjoyed almost an 80-year head start.