Episode 11: Hire and Develop the Best Talent

Nick Dimitrov

Nick Dimitrov

April 30, 2021 ยท 36 min read



Episode 11: Hire and Develop the Best Talent

Hi, and welcome to a brand new episode of the Amazon Bound podcast. This episode is going to be different than usual. I was recently interviewed by another podcast show, called 'Think Like Amazon,' to discuss the 'Hire and Develop the Best' Amazon Leadership Principle. I thought that conversation was interesting and useful, so here I am republishing it under the Amazon Bound podcast. Enjoy the conversation.

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Episode Transcript

Nick: If we can't as a team, get on that same point. And as a Bar Raiser, if I wasn't able to convince the rest of the group, then that means that I didn't do a very good job. So a performant Bar Raiser is someone who doesn't have the mindset of, 'I need to convince the team of my opinion.' Instead, a performant Bar Raiser is someone who is quite open to changing their mind. It's not about me being right versus other people being wrong. It's about, let's go down to the atomic level of indivisibility. The atomic data points or behavioral actions or illustrations, which are hard to dispute. And let's reach the decision at that point.

And once we get there, if the other people's data who disagreed with me, if it's more eloquent than my data, then I would change my mind. A confident Bar Raiser is never afraid to change their mind. They are however very focused on achieving clarity and, in effect, almost like poking fights of: 'OK. If there's any area that's unclear and murky and we have not shed enough light on it, let's make sure to go there. And let's make sure that we get to that atomic indivisibility of data. So, once you do that, you'd be surprised how people tend to agree and they tend to come to the same conclusion.

Hi, and welcome to a brand new episode of the Amazon Bound podcast. This episode is going to be different than usual. I was recently interviewed by another podcast show, called 'Think Like Amazon,' to discuss the 'Hire and Develop the Best' Amazon Leadership Principle. I thought that conversation was interesting and useful, so here I am republishing it under the Amazon Bound podcast. Enjoy the conversation.

Tyler: Welcome to the 'Think like Amazon' podcast. Today I'm pleased to welcome Nick Dimitrov. Nick spent over five years and Amazon, where he co-founded Amazon Game Studios, and led teams to grow Amazon's partnerships with game developers. During this time, Nick also became an Amazon Bar Raiser interviewing over 350 Amazon candidates and mentoring multiple Bar Raisers in Training. Since leaving Amazon in early 2018, Nick has gone on to found Amazon Bound, a company that helps job applicants to interview effectively with Amazon to improve their chances of being hired and also advises enterprise clients on skillful hiring practices. Nick, welcome to the show.

Nick: Thank you, Tyler, great to be here.

Tyler: Can you tell us a little bit more about the work you did at Amazon?

Nick: So, I joined the Amazon in 2013 and it was a very interesting experience. I didn't necessarily know what I'd be working on. Amazon can be a very secretive company. I had my career thus far established in the video game space and Amazon came and recruited me pretty intensely. But they didn't tell me what I'd be working on and I just agreed. I said, 'Yeah, it should be something in the game space most likely.' So, I agreed. Joined the company and lo and behold I found out that I was to be a member of a small founding team that was to start the Amazon Game Studios initiative for Amazon. We actually didn't even know that we'd start Amazon Game Studios, at the time. I found out that there were four of us who started the initiative. The four of us were going to present to Jeff Bezos and the Senior Leadership Team on my fourth week on the job. So, here I was I didn't know even where the coffee machines were down the hall, at the time and yet, I was supposed to help convince Bezos to invest millions of dollars in a brand-new space for Amazon. And over the course of several months we presented to Bezos and his leadership team. And we formulated a plan of how to get in games. We were going to build new-intellectual-property mobile games, primarily for Amazon's customers to enjoy on their Amazon devices. As we all know, Amazon has mobile / casual devices, like Fire Tablet, Fire TV. At the time, we were also going to launch Fire Phone and these games would serve as tiebreakers to convince customers to choose our devices, Amazon's devices, over a competing device. Because a lot of Amazon's customers, and a lot of people in general using mobile devices, they spend a lot of their time and wallet consuming games and playing games.

So over the course of a number of months we met with Bezos and his leadership team, a number of times. And we formulated this plan of reaching out to independent game developers with a novel concept, a novel set of proposals at the time, to convince them to agree to work with us. And one such novel element in 2013 was that the independent game developers could own the intellectual properties of the games we built together. And as a result, obviously, a lot of these developers agreed to work with us. We created a number of exciting and innovative games with which we launched new Amazon devices like Fire TV. Fire TV was launched in that time frame. It's a big success now but in 2014 it was just launching out. We launched Fire Phone as well. That was less of a success. It was a big failure by Amazon but it taught us a lot. And also, we added exclusively to the selection of content on Fire Tablet. So, those were my first few years at Amazon. And then three years later, I joined the Amazon Appstore team and worked with external third-party game developers and app developers to help them bring their games to the Amazon platforms. And effectively, at the time I became allies with some of the multi-platform game publishers and game developers with whom we had been competing back in the earlier days of Amazon Game Studios. Then, lastly, I finally left Amazon in 2018, to start Amazon Bound, which you described earlier.

Tyler: That's a very fascinating story that you have at Amazon. You came in and stood up the Amazon gaming experience that has now grown into such a big part of Amazon: the acquisition of Twitch and all the different partnerships that Amazon has established.

Nick, I imagine as I've experienced it well at Amazon when you get that proof of concept, and Amazon really wants to invest in this space, it might be a lot of work to get things off the ground initially but then things can be off to the races very quickly. And we all know that Amazon Game Studios is very big today, so I imagine that over those years that you were on those two teams, you saw a lot of growth in the organization. What I'd like to do is talk a bit about this Leadership Principle Amazon has called 'Hire and Develop the Best.' So can you talk a little bit about the hiring and team development and growth that you saw in your time on those teams?

Nick: Yes. So, you're absolutely right, Tyler. Amazon is constantly in the mode of starting something new somewhere across the company and at the time when we were starting Amazon Game Studios (AGS), yes, it was a difficult and exhilarating experience. All of us, each of us would have to do multiple different functions, at the same time, as we're scaling the business. So every one of us was a Product Manager and a Marketer and an Engineer and a Business Development person and a Solutions Architect all the same time. And we knew how vital it was to find the right talent to bring to the team. But before I continue with telling you the blow-by-blow of what are some of the mechanisms that we used to do so, I'd like to take a step back and share with you and your listeners how vitally important Hire and Develop, the Leadership Principle which you mentioned, is across Amazon. Jeff Bezos published a Shareholder Letter for the very first time back in 1997. That's the year went Amazon went public. And in that letter, he outlined some of the major foundational DNA concepts for Amazon and since then, Amazon has obviously become a very successful company but the important piece here and the reason I'm bringing it up is because every subsequent year Bezos has been publishing a new Shareholder Letter and those have become effectively the lore for a lot of business people and technology students. But the interesting piece here is that next to every subsequent annual Shareholder Letter, Bezos also publishes the initial Shareholder Letter from 1997, because, in effect, that is the fountainhead of the company.

So, with that context, as I mentioned, 1997 that letter outlined a lot of the crucial pieces about Amazon and one of those pieces that Bezos talked about in this initial letter, was hiring the right talent and how that is the absolute cornerstone of Amazon. And to quote a sentence from that letter Bezos states that 'Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been and will continue to be the single most important element of Amazon's success.' Those are very specific and eloquent words. So that shows you the importance and the foundational element that Hire and Develop has across the company.

So, now with that context, when we started Amazon Game Studios, we effectively used the same blueprint. How hiring is the single most important element of getting things done right. And we hired people during the first days of AGS in a way that, if you will, other companies wouldn't be able to do. And we we wanted to build a team that people would want to join. And along those lines, we viewed some of those initial hires who we approached almost as our customers. Almost as Amazon's customers who we had to delight and convince them to join our group. Because we do things that these employees, these colleagues of ours, wouldn't be able to do anywhere else. And, as I mentioned earlier, when we would go to the independent developers and would tell them: 'Hey, let's work on Intellectual Property and games that you've not been able to work anywhere else because other publishers or other financing houses didn't want to take a chance with these games and with you.' Because they might be looking for more revenues or a sequel or a tried-and-true mechanic. And we'd go to these independent game developers as our partners and would say, forget all of that, let's build something that you've always wanted to build, but nobody's given you the chance to. Let's build the thing that you're getting out of bed, first thing in the morning, wanting to do and imagining to do. Let's do that together.

And along those lines, we had the very same message to our internal colleagues, and the internal talent, who we hired. We went to them and we said: 'Hey, let's build this new studio, which doesn't exist elsewhere.' And the message worked, and we hired people relatively quickly, as Amazon is prone to do. And then Amazon achieved a number of significant successes in the space, some of which you mentioned such as acquiring Twitch for a billion dollars. At the time, that was Amazon's largest acquisition across the company. We built Lumberyard which is a game engine. We're building a number of verticals across AWS that are dedicated to gaming. We have internal games, second-party games as well, and hopefully they're going to get better and better in time.

Tyler: One of the things I want to touch on with what you just shared there, it actually draws from something I experienced at Amazon as well, which was this idea of moving folks around to new innovative, nascent, ideas and businesses. And one of the terms that I always really liked at Amazon is General Athletes or Fungible Leaders. And so, in the example of Amazon Game Studios, certainly there were folks that had experience in the industry. But I'm sure that many of the team members that came to that team didn't have prior experience working with game developers. But they were high performers in other areas and they had that fungibility. One of the components of this 'Hire and Develop the Best' principle is that leaders recognize exceptional talent and willingly move them throughout the organization. Talk to us a little bit about whether you saw within AGS' development and growth. Did you see folks get recruited from other parts of Amazon over to AGS? And, likewise, did you see some of AGS's high performers, get supported and encouraged to move to other parts of the company as well?

Nick: Absolutely. Tyler, you stole the words out of my mouth. I completely agree. Functional skills are highly teachable and Amazon loves the general athletes who could pretty much be plug-and-play in parts of the business which need the most help. And, to further enhance those points for Amazon Game Studios, back in 2013, there wasn't that much experience to be gathered in mobile games. Because mobile games were relatively something new. If you remember, for instance, massive games like Candy Crush were just coming on mobile. They were Facebook games before that. And games like, Clash of Clans and whatnot, they weren't even invented, at the time. So, you're absolutely right that functional skills were relevant, but they were not the most important determinant when we would hire someone. And a much more valuable input would be the fit with the Amazon Leadership Principles and whether you are that type of a General Athlete, who we can draw on and help us build games which did not exist before.

So, yes, to answer your question, we would see a number of people join the team. Also, a number of our own employees part to other parts of Amazon. And at first blush, that might seem a bit foreign to some who don't come from similar cultures. But at Amazon, that's a very well understood cultural trait. And for example, every year when I would work for Amazon, I would meet regularly with my direct reports and colleagues and I'd be concerned if nobody wanted to poach them. Because I knew that I'd be doing an unfair and incomplete job if they didn't shine and if they did not, at least put them in a position to shine. Obviously not everybody shines. And once that type of person has found a good fit and once they find a project or a vocation to dedicate themselves to, then they absolutely become visible across the company. And it's the most natural thing for you to let them go. I would sit down with my direct and would have candid conversations based on data of: 'Hey, what can this other job do for you that I can't? And let's line up the racing horses and figure it out.' And if it really is the case that this other opportunity would be more accretive for both you, as a professional, and the company, then I would absolutely encourage the person to leave.

And, in some cases I would even encourage people to leave Amazon, in some cases. Hopefully, that was not the de-facto state, but you have to push for people to continue to evolve their skills. Because if you do that, then in time, frequently they would come back to your team. Amazon calls this a 'Boomerang' or boomeranging. And then you can acquire a person who's proven their functional skills and has become wiser and more capable as well.

Tyler: I love your perspective, Nick, on this process. From your seat as a manager on the team and how you thought about this with your direct reports whether it's Amazon Devices or AWS or Amazon Game Studios. Any of these new businesses that have sprung up from within Amazon, critical to their success is the ability to attract good talent to that team. You need the strongest performers to help invent and grow that organization. And doing that is really dependent on the teams where those high performers currently sit being supportive of them moving, and of them transferring. So it's great to hear your perspective on that. I certainly saw some of that myself at Amazon and tried to be that kind of manager as well for my team.

But I think it's important for listeners to understand that for this to be successful, for this fungible, move-leaders-around-the-organization to happen, managers have to take that long-term perspective with their employees of what is going to be the best for this employee's career development. And I think it's easy for managers, a lot of times across companies, to have more of a short-term perspective and think: 'I've got this top performer. What do I need to do to keep them on my team? To keep them from leaving because I need that talent. I want that talent.' So it really kind of comes back to this long-term ownership perspective that I think Amazon tries to encourage: to think long-term about the employees as well.

I want to shift a little bit and talk about the hiring or the recruiting piece of bit more, of this 'Hire and Develop the Best' Leadership Principle. So, another component I mentioned early on from your background, is that you were also a Bar Raiser at Amazon. And, in their book 'Working Backwards,' Colin Bryar and Bill Carr talk a little bit about the origin of the Bar Raiser program. When Amazon was very young, Jeff Bezos was very involved in a lot of those initial hires, but Amazon quickly grew. I think the last figure I saw was well over a million employees. So, the Senior Leadership Team can't be involved in all of those interview circles. And so, at one point, it was deemed necessary to create a mechanism to ensure that Amazon continue to raise a high bar, across all the different parts of the company.

Can you talk to us a little bit more about your experience, becoming a Bar Raiser, and what this Bar-Raiser concept is at Amazon?

Nick: Of course. You're absolutely right: the Bar Raiser is effectively the keeper of the key to the city, right. The keeper of the flame. And, it's a very unique Amazonian trait. I was a Bar Raiser. In order to become a Bar Raiser, each candidate needs to go through a lengthy training process, which in some cases can take as long as a year because of this outsized power, outsized responsibility that they have. And to be specific about what I mean by outsized power: this is an individual who attends every loop past a certain level of seniority of the candidates who are being interviewed. And this individual has the effectively unilateral ability to determine to hire or not hire the person. And that Bar Raiser is someone who is not a member of the interviewing team. So the only incentive that a Bar Raiser has to make a hiring decision, is whether the candidate raises the Amazon Bar. And raising the Amazon Bar means if the candidate is better than the average Amazonian with the same duties and scope of work, who's currently employed at the company.

So, the whole premise behind raising the bar, at Amazon, means that continually the level of performance is going to rise, because we continually are going to hire people, who are better than who we are today, who we have employed today. And in a funny twist, you could even go as far as saying, a good Bar Raiser would do their job, if once we keep hiring people. Some of the people who've already hired, if they leave the company, they wouldn't be able to rejoin, because the bar has been raised so highly. So, the Bar Raiser is this person who comes from an independent background, they oftentimes could come even from a different functional background. As we've discussed, functional skills are rather teachable, so it's not unusual for maybe an engineering candidate to be interviewed by a lawyer, who's a Bar Raiser, or a marketer. And the assessment there happens at the Leadership skills and the bar at Amazon. Not on a functional premise. So that's what the Bar Raiser does. And with that context in mind, as a Bar Raiser, I had this ability to effectively overwrite what the rest of the team thinks.

If the team wants to hire the person, but the Bar Raiser doesn't believe that the person is better than 50% of the other Amazonians right now, the Bar Raiser can unilaterally, veto that decision. And, couple of important nuances to mention: even though the Bar Raiser has this outsized power, I always viewed it as a failure if I had to ram down a decision, down the throats of other people. That's effectively a sign of an ineffective Bar Raiser because everything at Amazon, or as much as possible, is determined based on data and based on behavior of illustrations of people's performance throughout their careers, before they joined Amazon.

So, if we can't as a team, get on that same point. And as a Bar Raiser, if I wasn't able to convince the rest of the group, then that means that I didn't do a very good job. So a performant Bar Raiser is someone who doesn't have the mindset of, 'I need to convince the team of my opinion.' Instead, a performant Bar Raiser is someone who is quite open to changing their mind. It's not about me being right versus other people being wrong. It's about, let's go down to the atomic level of indivisibility. The atomic data points or behavioral actions or illustrations, which are hard to dispute. And let's reach the decision at that point.

And once we get there, if the other people's data who disagreed with me, if it's more eloquent than my data, then I would change my mind. A confident Bar Raiser is never afraid to change their mind. They are however very focused on achieving clarity and, in effect, almost like poking fights of: 'OK. If there's any area that's unclear and murky and we have not shed enough light on it, let's make sure to go there. And let's make sure that we get to that atomic indivisibility of data. So, once you do that, you'd be surprised how people tend to agree and they tend to come to the same conclusion.

So, in my career as a Bar Raiser, I've had very few instances where I've been unable to convince the team of not hiring someone once they were initially inclined. And then conversely if I want to hire a candidate but the team doesn't, I would let the team have their way. Because I would believe that the candidate raises the bar. I would push for this candidate to be repurposed to a different team; Amazon calls this a 'recycling decision.' And I wouldn't want to, again, force a person who the team is not sold, on them. Because, succeeding at Amazon is hard enough if all the stars are aligned. It's a very challenging company to perform well at. Let alone, if your manager or your team members are not sold on your ability to perform well. So, for those candidates, I would push hard for them to be considered by other Amazon teams. And frequently, in that case, this individual would find a home in a different team, in the matter of a few months down the line.

So, from that vantage point, the Amazon process looks out for the candidate. Where if somebody is better than the average Amazonian, but not a great fit for that particular role because a functional misfit or what have you, the process makes sure that, with a slight bit of delay, the person would find a better home and perform very highly later on, hopefully, joining the company.

Tyler: Thanks for taking us through a bit of what that process looks like, and how you saw your duty as a Bar Raiser. I thought it was very interesting to hear about examples of somebody that might be a lawyer interviewing for a technical or software engineer. So clearly a Bar Raiser isn't there to just assess on those functional capabilities. Can you talk to us a little bit more about what it is that you wanted to make sure you helped that loop, that group of interviewing individuals, focus on in making that decision?

Nick: Yes, Amazon looks at data, as I mentioned earlier. They value data much more so than people's opinions or beliefs or hypotheses. And if a person maybe is not a good interviewer and they're not eloquent enough and adept enough to convey that data to some of the other interviewers. And if I had seen that data and if I had collected it, and if I believe it's valuable and valid, I would present this data to everybody else and say: 'Hey, look. This is what this person has achieved. Can you claim the same for some of the other current employees who are having this type of similar responsibilities on the team? And if the answer is, no, how can you be disinclined against this person?' So, it becomes a matter of going to the Leadership Principles. And, Amazon has these very elaborate matrices and definitions and expectations and data and KPI, if you will, Amazon measures everything. KPI based on what each individual is supposed to perform, what level they're supposed to perform at, for each role.

And that makes the discussion more capable to be based on data. And, at Amazon, it's okay to disagree with someone. We're not disagreeing with each other ad hominem. We're disagreeing with each other's data. And if somebody had reached a disinclined decision, I'd sit down with them and the team, and say: 'OK, let's again, let's boil it down to the atomic level of where your disinclined recommendation comes from.' And let's keep drilling. Let's keep asking the five why's until we see if this person is truly not better than your other employees on the team. And sometimes, it might be the case that they're not better. In this case, my perception was incorrect based on the certain set of data that was collected by the people in the loop. But who's right and who's wrong is a secondary point. The point is, let's get down to the common thread of how has this individual performed based on quantifiable data and metrics in their career so far. And, how does that compare to other people on the team who have similar expectations and scope? And once you line up the racing horses with this type of data-based analysis, it's relatively straightforward to come up with a conclusion with which people agree because you're not entitled to your own data. It's hard to argue with data.

And that's why the Amazon process tends to be so vocal in disagreeing with each other, but also it tends to come to fruition relatively quickly. The Amazon debriefs are usually about half an hour. So, Amazon reaches those decisions on a very complex level relatively quickly. Because you boil everything down to data, or as much of it as possible down to data.

Tyler: You talk about Amazon's use of data and the KPIs and creating a systematized way to conduct that evaluation. And you brought up Amazon's Leadership Principles. And I can't say enough about how interconnected Amazon's Leadership Principles are in this evaluation process. As we think about organizations and teams beyond just Amazon now, the Leadership Principles are very fundamental to this bar-raising process and hiring an Amazon. How ingrained or formulated and adopted do you think that an organization needs to have their principles and their values for a program similar to this bar-raising program to be effective?

Nick: This is a really insightful question, Tyler. I will respond with an example here in a second. But first, let me again, set the context of what I mentioned earlier: how the Bar Raiser is the holder of the key to the city, and the keeper of the flame of the culture. But, you know, unless there's a city and unless there's a flame, there's nothing for this Bar Raiser to keep. So the Bar Raiser effectively is a sentinel for a culture that should exist before them, or as their motto, or as their Northstar, if you will.

So, very shortly, after we started Amazon Bound, we would have companies come to us and ask us: 'Hey, help us put together, our own Bar Raiser program.' And this type of request is not as straightforward as it might look. Because, as I mentioned, the Bar Raiser is the function of the rest of the culture. It's not a very straightforward answer. You have to, as another company, you have to have a mission statement. You have to have Leadership Principles. You have to have your top five mental models, or top ten mental models. What does your org structure look like? Do you have single-threaded leaders across the organization? How are you envisioning running your company? Are you going to be customer-obsessed? Are you going to be competitor-obsessed? On and on and on?

So, in the very beginning we simply wouldn't take the business that some of these enterprise customers wanted to give us. Because, as you mentioned, the Leadership Principles and the culture and the Bar Raiser, that's a set of very intertwined and complex issues. And, in the beginning, we wanted to focus on our primary customer, which at the time was the Amazon job applicant. Now, we're in the third year of Amazon Bound, and we've developed a fair amount of wherewithal on how to address these complex issues. And we are offering service to enterprise customers of helping them establish their own elements of the bar-raising process in the Hire-and-Develop parts of their organization.

But going back to your original question, the Bar Raiser is absolutely a part of the fabric of the company's culture and it cannot exist in a vacuum.

Tyler: Sounds like you've not just thought about this, but also, you've lived this process. I want to touch on one last component of what I experienced with the Bar Raiser role in my time at Amazon, as well. We talked a bit about the role in helping the team come to the right hiring decision, or that recycle decision, or whatever that outcome is going to be for the candidate. That's arguably the most important component of the Bar Raiser role. But I found that another important component of the role is to be an extension of Amazon's training on interviewing with the interviewing loop itself.

And so, can you talk to us a little bit about your experience as a Bar Raiser not just in getting to that decision, but also in training and helping to develop the other interviewers that you worked with?

Nick: Absolutely. This is one of the roles that the Bar Raiser has: training the rest of the team in the best practices of hiring and interviewing and developing someone. And the byproduct, the final working-backwards state of that, is: by raising the bar of the interviewers across the company, Amazon is going to help the interviewees have a more consistent and more positive experience. Because the way Amazon views it, all individuals who we interview are either current Amazon customers or future Amazon customers. And no matter what the hiring decision, this individual, this interviewee, should walk away from the experience with a professional opinion and impression of Amazon.

That's why I completely agree with you. One of the major roles of the Bar Raiser is to raise that bar, not just for the external candidate, but for the internal set of interviewers at the company. So there's a number of mechanisms that Bar Raisers would employ there, along the lines of: 'OK. How are we going to structure our debrief notes?' because everything at the company, as I mentioned, is behavioral and based on data. So Amazon, usually encourages interviewers to write their feedback as quickly as possible after the interview has concluded. How much of the feedback is behavioral versus just my opinion and unsubstantiated hypotheses? Once we get together and we read everybody else's feedback, how prone is every individual to be open to changing their mind, and to listening, and to thinking about where the bar is? Particularly the Hiring Manager often needs to be educated there, because coming from different cultures where the Hiring Manager has the veto power is somewhat of a culture shock for a lot of people when they join Amazon.

So, absolutely the Bar Raiser is someone who sets the best practices for all the other interviewers to follow. And, if you don't perform as an interviewer, the Bar Raiser is going to track your performance, or somebody on the bar-raising team will. And they're going to even put you through a bit of a training program, all over again. When any Amazonian is allowed to interview, they need to go through a training process first, and as they continue to interview people, their performance is tracked, in certain cases.

And, if you are constantly providing inaccurate decisions, in terms of bringing people to interview, after you've had a phone screen with them and they have incomplete performance on the loop. Or if you're voting in one direction, and the interviewee ends up being hired and ends up, hopefully, having a strong career. Then, there's these mechanisms and mitigating factors that Amazon has put in place, to make you a better interviewer as you go. And the bar razor is absolutely the first line of defense against this. And, they are the living almanack of the Amazon culture, which is incredibly important given the rapid rate of growth of the company, given how many new employees join the company and making sure that those Leadership Principles don't get diluted. And they get passed on from one wave of new employees to another.

Tyler: I can really see how you internalize very deeply your role in coaching and developing others, both within your time and role as a Bar Raiser at Amazon, as well as I'm sure developing and growing those teams on Amazon Game Studios and Amazon Appstore.

So, Nick, we're coming close on time here. And, so as we wrap up, what advice do you have for listeners, many of whom are managing teams and businesses, on how to think about improving their hiring or people-development ability?

Nick: Well, the short answer to that question is you can hire us and we'll help you do it. But a serious response is: you should, as a company, you should really try to articulate a set of principles that define you. And, I found one helpful approach is, try to answer the question, what are you going to be the best in the world at? In a very measurable fashion. What would you be in the top 3% in the world at delivering to your customers? And then once you figure out what that state of service or product looks like, then off of that define a set of principles and mental models that come off of that. Then make the hard decision to run everything in the company by these principles. This should not be just moving words or moving air. You should tie your money, and your incentives, and your investment decisions, and your hiring decisions, you should tie all of these to these sets of Leadership Principles and mental structures.

And then find the people in the company who embody these principles the best. Usually, those are the co-founders or a platoon of individuals who started the company. But then clearly identify who these people are, and then commission them to become you Bar Raisers. Again, put your money where your mouth is. Truly empower them with this outsized responsibility and decision-making authority to guard that culture, to guard those principles that you've set in place. These will be the people who continually refine and guard your Leadership Principles. And once you figure out who these people are, have them help you define what those Leadership Principles and cultural tenets look like. Then, from a more executional point of view, empower them to become the interviewers of your company, who run your interview loops, who shape the hiring decisions. And then who, in turn, train your Bar Raisers, in the very same spirit.

Tyler: This has been very enjoyable, Nick. I can tell that there's a lot more that you have to offer on this topic. So, where could listeners go to learn more from you or get in touch with you, be they a job candidate, a manager, or an organization, looking to implement some of these practices?

Nick: You can find us at https://amazonbound.today, or you can find me individually on LinkedIn, it's https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickdimitrov/

Tyler: Nick, thanks again for coming on the show with us today.

Nick: Thank you, Tyler. Great to talk to you.

OK. This wraps up this episode of the Amazon Bound podcast. Thank you for listening. Please, give us a rating and subscribe to our podcast wherever you access your podcast content. Stay safe and the very best of luck. Bye.

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