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Publisher's Summary

This program includes a preface read by the authors.

Working Backwards is an insider's breakdown of Amazon's approach to culture, leadership, and best practices from two longtime, top-level Amazon executives.

Colin started at Amazon in 1998; Bill joined in 1999. In Working Backwards, these two long-serving Amazon executives reveal and codify the principles and practices that drive the success of one of the most extraordinary companies the world has ever known. With 27 years of Amazon experience between them, much of it in the early aughts - a period of unmatched innovation that brought products and services including Kindle, Amazon Prime, Amazon Studios, and Amazon Web Services to life - Bryar and Carr offer unprecedented access to the Amazon way as it was refined, articulated, and proven to be repeatable, scalable, and adaptable.

With keen analysis and practical steps for applying it at your own company - no matter the size - the authors illuminate how Amazon’s 14 leadership principles inform decision-making at all levels and reveal how the company’s culture has been defined by four characteristics: customer obsession, long-term thinking, eagerness to invent, and operational excellence. Bryar and Carr explain the set of ground-level practices that ensure these are translated into action and flow through all aspects of the business.

Working Backwards is a practical guidebook and a corporate narrative, filled with the authors’ in-the-room recollections of what “Being Amazonian” is like and how it has affected their personal and professional lives. They demonstrate that success on Amazon’s scale is not achieved by the genius of any single leader, but rather through commitment to and execution of a set of well-defined, rigorously executed principles and practices - shared here for the very first time. 

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Colin Bryar and Bill Carr (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What the critics say

"Jeff Bezos once told me that unlike Google or Apple, 'Amazon doesn't have one big advantage, so we have to braid a rope out of many small advantages'. Amazon has demonstrated again and again that success doesn't result from one big stroke of genius but from a set of clear business practices consistently and boldly applied. Colin Bryar and Bill Carr dive deep into how Amazon has become the company to study if you want to succeed in 21st-century business." (Tim O'Reilly, owner of O'Reilly Media)

"For those looking to change the world in ways (very) large and small via innovation and business, my strong recommendation is to dive deeply into Working Backwards. Bill and Colin have delivered a rarity of immense value, which is a powerful, high judgment dissection of the inputs to Amazon itself. I anticipate Working Backwards to quickly become required reading in board rooms and classrooms around the world." (Jason Kilar, chief executive officer of WarnerMedia)

“Colin Bryar and Bill Carr have operationalized the core management practices that lie behind Amazon's success. In particular, their insights into how any successful leader can focus on narrative and metrics to take a short-cut to the truth are essential for any leader in any industry. You'll want to have your highlighter ready and keep this book close at hand for quick reference." (Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor)

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What listeners say about Working Backwards

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inspiring story to read

loved it❤
as a product manager, Id die to work in such a company like Amazon with this level of innovation 💡and the experience which can be gained throughout the release of each feature/product
my sincere appreciation goes to the authors, you guys did a magnificent job writing this book👌

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  • JPLFC2002
  • 2021-03-19

Look elsewhere to learn about Amazon.

The book started strong with the bios and leadership principles. There are some informative chapters such as the narrative and PR chapters but throughout the book there is a pompous tone. This book is the epitome of your colleague taking all the credit saying they did all the work instead of saying we. Lots of boasting and unnecessary details on promotions, titles, and personal successes etc. The Everything Store is a better Amazon 101 book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Scott Engstrom
  • 2021-05-23

Very good business book

This book is very good and you should read it/listen to it if you are looking for insights regarding new product introduction and unique hiring practices. There is no arguing with Amazon’s successes and so hearing about how they introduced some of the most successful product lines is incredibly interesting.

But, not all books can be 5 stars. This one is just below the best business books I’ve read.

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  • Vamsi Duvvuri
  • 2021-07-16

Must read

If you are an ex, current, or future business owner, this book is a must read.

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  • Nathan Parker
  • 2021-07-07

Somewhat of a propaganda book, but still useful

The authors show cult-like devotion to Amazon and Jeff Bezos, but anyone that is familiar with Amazon knows that they're doing a lot of things right, so smart people will listen to whatever key players within the company have to say.

I did find the chapter on recruiting a bit creepy. First, they brag that they expect employees to work long, hard, and smart. Sorry, but I'm not putting in 60 hours a week for you. Second, sending gifts to prospective hires and encouraging their friends to put pressure on them to accept job offers comes across as manipulative.

Loved the chapter on PowerPoint. I had also read Tufte's pamphlet "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint" and was already full on board with ditching it, so it's gratifying to see such a successful company follow suit.

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  • J. Jenkins
  • 2021-05-09

Interesting to hear from insiders

The book has a serious structure to the content with plenty of examples of how the organization built it's culture and created an amazing business. While that was interesting, I was disappointed the authors were not more courageous in giving their opinion on the current state of the business in terms of creating a somewhat challenging environment for employees. They took credit for it's creation, and not the responsibility for it's impact.

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  • Jesse
  • 2021-05-03

great book with great insights

I truly fascinating dive into what makes Amazon the incredible performer that it is over such a long time horizon

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  • J. Johnson
  • 2021-04-30

worth reading

I liked a lot of what was shared, but it also made it obvious why Amazon can sometimes be disorganized and not communicate well, but from a software and innovation perspective, it worked well for them with some cost in logistics, but overall they are a solid company. Some of this was really tooting their own horn. That part you can ignore.

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  • G. Roukas
  • 2021-04-20

Unexceptional book about the truly exceptional company

Now that I finished the book, I can’t wait to go back and reread it. It’s filled with so much great information not only about Amazon but about how it’s success principles can be applied to others, but I don’t want to miss a thing. This is easily one of the best business books I’ve read in the past few years, and I’ve read quite a few!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-04-12

Enjoyed every second of this book...

As a long time Amazon admirer, getting this detailed and well written/read summary of their corporate culture, and some of their biggest successes was fascinating indeed.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-03-26

Informative and stories that can be implemented

As a small business owner, I wasn't sure if stories and secrets from one of the largest and most successful companies could be implemented into my business. But I was tuned in and listening closely from the start. I was constantly writing notes and going back to certain sections listening again to make sure I understood completely what they said worked, and what didn't work for them. There are so many secrets and tips that any size business could incorporate into their operation...both short and long term. It's easy to follow along and gives great perspectives from two people who experienced some principles that Amazon still uses these days.