OWL Magazine Korea

“I Walked into the Future at Amazon” by Park Jung-jun

Amazon is considered one of the top 10 companies globally, having even claimed the top spot in market capitalization worldwide at one point. Although it currently competes with giants like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft, Amazon remains a significant leader in the business world.

While the general public may perceive Amazon primarily as an e-commerce company, it is also a software company. It provides a server program called “AWS” to businesses and individuals and offers various experimental services.

“I Walked into the Future at Amazon”

This book is written by Park Jung-jun, a Korean who spent 12 years at Amazon. In the jungle of Amazon, where the average employee tenure is less than a year, he endured for 12 years as a foreigner. The book shares his experiences, lessons learned, and insights gained during his time working at Amazon.

As a book written from the perspective of someone who worked within Amazon, it provides an opportunity to better understand the company.

“Published in 2019”

The book was published in 2019, capturing Amazon’s trajectory up to that point. The relentless progress and development of Amazon are cited as its remarkable aspects.

Although I may have encountered this book in the past, at that time, I lacked significant knowledge about business, management, and industries, which might explain why it didn’t resonate much with me.

“Looking Back in 2022”

Upon revisiting the book, especially now that I am involved in stock investing and have richer corporate experience, various aspects caught my attention.

“Amazon: Relentlessly Customer-Centric Company”

One aspect consistently emphasized in the book is that Amazon is a company relentlessly focused on its customers. This is a well-known characteristic of the company. In fact, Amazon could be seen as a company that prioritizes “customers only” to the extent that everything operates around them.

While working at such a company might be challenging for employees, the philosophy of operating the company entirely based on customer-centric principles seems to be a source of pride for those working there. The book mentions a policy at Amazon where employees could receive stock options as they continued working, representing a significant form of reward.

“Talent is the Future.”

The book repeatedly highlights Amazon’s effort to attract the best talent. In contrast to many companies that move to suburban areas to build cheaper headquarters as they grow, Amazon is noteworthy for choosing to establish offices in city centers to attract talent.

The idea that staying in urban areas makes it easier to attract talent resonates with me personally. Most people prefer staying in cities, and there are few who wish to move to rural areas.

“Jeff Bezos”

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is famously known. Although he has stepped back somewhat from the day-to-day operations, the image of Jeff Bezos, as seen in photos, is quite imposing.

His iconic bald head, often associated with a villainous image, contrasts with the humorous and interesting person seen in his 2003 TED Talk, where he metaphorically compares the direction of the internet to “electricity supply.”

After the dot-com bubble, he likened the future of the internet to the “electricity supply” era, expressing that continuous innovation would drive the internet’s ongoing development. The presentation, sprinkled with entertaining pictures and humor, was impressive.

“Not Spending on Advertising, Yet Well-Known Amazon”

Amazon and Tesla share a commonality—they do not advertise, yet they are well-known companies. Although Amazon is known for not spending on advertising, it was interesting to see that they conducted a Kindle advertising campaign through a competition. Even this advertising effort, however, was not a lavish one, showcasing a typically frugal approach.

“It’s Joyful When You Can Work Hard.”

Reading the book, it became evident why the author titled it “I Walked into the Future at Amazon.” For the author, Amazon was an opportunity and a place where he could indirectly learn and grow.

If one can learn something, receive a salary, and work hard in an environment where they can excel, it would be an excellent situation. While the author acknowledges that those moments were tough, looking back, he wonders how he endured. 

Nevertheless, he used the experience gained there as a foundation to run his own business.

People constantly learn and grow. I, too, am slowly growing, albeit at a slower pace. Although I didn’t work for a leading global company like Amazon, I believe there must have been things to learn and reflect on from my past workplace experiences.

“I Walked into the Future at Amazon”

  • Author: Park Jung-jun
  • Published: March 7, 2019
  • ISBN-13: 9791157843183
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