The Smartest Thing Amazon Ever Did

Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint Presentations in all exec meetings.

"Species that collaborate, survive. Species that are selfish, go extinct. High-performing teams are no different."

Otmar Szafnauer, ex-F1 Team Principal at Alpine

Welcome to the Elite Team Talks newsletter, where we reveal the strategies and blueprints of the world's most successful teams 🏆

In this edition of Elite Team Talks:

  • One quick win: 19 words that will change how you deliver feedback forever

  • One proven system: Amazon replaced PowerPoints with this system in all exec meetings

  • One to watch: How Michael Jordan thinks about recruitment

  • One for you: Techniques MMA superstar is using to improve his mental health

  • One million-dollar question: Steph Curry asks himself this question every season

  • Ones we recommend: The mindset hack Olympians use to train daily

1. THESE 19 WORDS WILL CHANGE HOW YOU DELIVER FEEDBACK FOREVER

Have you struggled to give critical feedback to your team?

Steal these 19 words from Adam Grant 👇

They will become dramatically more receptive to what you deliver.

Giving tough love doesn’t have to give you anxiety.

2. THE METHOD JEFF BEZOS USED TO TRANSFORM EXEC MEETINGS AT AMAZON

In 2004, Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint presentations from all Amazon leadership meetings.

No more reading off flashy slides.

They were replaced by detailed 6-page memos.

Here is an example of the “memo method” implemented at Lark:

Each memo gets distributed in advance of the meeting.

Not everyone has time to digest the information before the meeting, so Amazon uses the first 20-30 minutes of the meeting in silence.

All attendees read the memo in that time and prepare for discussion of the topic.

Bezos refers to this move as the “smartest thing they ever did” at Amazon.

Why we believe it works:

  1. Forces you to think carefully about your ideas

  2. Organises complex information/ideas in a logical way

  3. Allows the audience to digest the info at their own pace

The meetings then become more productive as they are focused on active discussion and debate rather than passive listening to a presentation.

If you want a 6-page memo template, reply memo to this email 🤝

3. JORDAN SHARES WHY THIS ALL-STAR DIDN’T MAKE THE 1992 DREAM TEAM 🏀

At the 1992 games in Barcelona, the US team won Olympic gold.

But one of the best basketball players was left out of the team…

You want the highest performing collective, not just the most talent individuals.

Be ruthless about the “skills” new hires need to have:

1️⃣ Relationship - intra/interpersonal skills

2️⃣ Conceptual - critical thinking/problem solving

3️⃣ Technical - specific job role skills

The best organisations assess for all three, not just technical skills.

When you've identified these, create pressurised, job-specific scenarios and observe their behaviour more than their words.

Pressure causes us to revert to our habits; displaying your candidates true colours.

4. YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS THE FOUNDATION

No matter your success, mental ill health can strike at any time.

This week, MMA superstar Dustin Poirier opened up about his fight with suicidal thoughts 👇

He is not the first, and won’t be the last.

Practising mindfulness saved Dustin’s life.

His 3x pieces of advice:

  1. Set your intentions and practice gratitude at the start of each day

  2. Check in daily and make time to be good to yourself

  3. Therapy works - opening up and talking about how you feel is crucial

📽️ Heavyweight champion of the world Tyson Fury also shares useful advice on how he overcame his battle with depression (LINK)

5. NBA CHAMPION STEPH CURRY ASKS HIMSELF THIS QUESTION EVERY SEASON

How much time do you practise in private vs performing in public?

The number of European basketball players now competing in the NBA has skyrocketed over the last decade.

The reason why is explained brilliantly in this clip 👇

@grandmasterhoops

The basketball system in the usa is officially broken and I'm not sure how to unwind this. It's crazy what goes on over here

Successful people are not lucky or born that way, they practise consistently.

So it is no surprise Europe is producing so many stars with their training methods.

We also analysed Steph Curry as he is considered the greatest shooter in the history of the game 🏀

Less than 1/10th of 1% of his shots have been made in an actual basketball game.

  • Total 3-pointers made: 3.5k

  • Total shots in every game he’s played: 15k

  • Total practise shots: 2.5m

“People are rewarded in public for what they practise in private.” (Steph Curry)

6. ONES WE RECOMMEND

🎙️ Duncan French (VP of Performance at UFC) shares how to create an environment that breeds high performance on this week’s ETT podcast (LINK)

📽️ Mental hack Olympians use to train daily when motivation is low from the CEO & Founder of Spartan (LINK)

📄 Founder Compensation Report (2024): How much you should get paid based on your startup location in Europe (LINK)

📕 HBR interview about how Sir Alex Ferguson built a sporting dynasty for three decades (LINK)

REFERRAL PROGRAMME LAUNCHING 🚀

Today, we are launching our first ever referral programme with a killer piece of research on elite team performance.

You only need 1 successful referral to get access:

“5 strategies to recruit and develop a high-performance culture from 5 world-class teams” (Downloadable PDF)

Below is your unique referral link 👇

See you next week 👋