Amazon.com senior vice president Jeff Wilke — like all top execs at the online retailing powerhouse — spends a lot of time reading.
As part of the company’s unusual culture, meetings at Amazon start with about 20 people in the room reading 6-page documents known as “narratives.” These documents lay out the details of what’s to come in the meeting, and staffers spend as much as 45 minutes reading them in silence. That style of meeting stands in stark contrast to other companies.
In 2014, Wilke read over 2,000 pages of single-spaced text — including 236 pages of press releases, nearly 800 pages of staff meetings, 707 pages of operating plans and over 500 pages of quarterly business reviews.
That’s a lot of text. So what are the most common terms and words that pop up in the documents that Wilke is reading?
At a talk Tuesday night at Seattle University about Amazon’s peculiar leadership principles, Wilke shared the top words in his “narratives.”
“I didn’t know how it would turn out,” said Wilke, who joined Amazon in 1999 and leads the company’s powerful consumer business. “I was delighted that ‘will’ implies a promise and that ‘customers’ is the second word. Whew!”
You can see all of the words above, which provide a bit of a roadmap of what’s on the minds of Amazon employees. Wilke said he was proud that “Prime” made it in the top 10, and he also noted that many of the words show up throughout the company’s 14 leadership principles.
Interestingly, during the question and answer portion of Wilke’s talk, an Amazon.com shareholder pressed the executive on why the word “mobile” was not higher on the list. Here’s what he said in response to the question:
“For mobile, it is #19 on my list of words because we don’t typically have a mobile program and a PC or a Web site program. We have programs. We have features. We have products. For years, we have been launching them as close to simultaneously as our code base allows on the mobile device, the app or mobile-optimized Web, as well as for desktop. That is going to continue over time. I think as long as customers choose to use their handheld mobile devices, instead of sitting at a desk and doing something, and who knows whether this will be the ultimate form factor. This will be for a while, and then there will be something else. We want to make sure that the products that we develop are useful for customers on any device that they happen to have in their pocket that connects them to this amazing network of information.”