Taking control of your career | Ethan Evans (Amazon)

Taking control of your career | Ethan Evans (Amazon)

Ethan’s background (00:00:00)

  • Ethan Evans is a former vice president at Amazon, executive coach, and course creator focused on helping leaders grow into Executives.
  • He spent 15 years at Amazon, helped invent and run Prime video, the Amazon app store, Prime gaming, and twitch Commerce.
  • Led Global teams of over 800, helped draft one of Amazon's 14 core leadership principles, holds over 70 patents, and currently spends his time Executive coaching and running courses to help people advance in their career, build leadership skills, and succeed in senior roles.

The Magic Loop (00:04:25)

  • The Magic Loop is a 5-step process to grow your career in almost any circumstance.
  • Step 1: Do your current job well.
  • Step 2: Ask your boss how you can help.
  • Step 3: Do what they ask, even if it's not your favorite work.
  • Step 4: Go back to your manager and ask if there's a way you could help them that would also help you reach your goal.
  • Step 5: Repeat steps 4 and 5.

The goal of the Magic Loop (00:08:31)

  • The goal of the Magic Loop is to help you get satisfaction in your career, whether that means moving up a level, getting paid more, or changing what you're doing.
  • It works by forming a partnership with your leadership where you help them and they help you.

Clarifications on the framework (00:10:59)

  • Why do I have to do this? Shouldn't my manager notice what I'm doing and help with my career?
    • The point of the Magic Loop is that it's in your control. You can't control what your manager does, but you can control your own actions.
  • Can managers initiate the Magic Loop from their side?
    • Yes, managers can talk to their employees and ask them about their career goals and form partnerships to help them achieve those goals.

Success stories (00:12:46)

  • Entry-level person got a $30,000 raise and a bigger job after applying the Magic Loop.
  • A mid-level engineer grew to an executive with a team of 800 people over 8 years using the Magic Loop.

The importance and effectiveness of the Magic Loop (00:17:22)

  • Managers rarely get offered help, so having an ally can be a huge relief.
  • The Magic Loop works because it taps into the human tendency to help those who help us.
  • Many relationships with managers are oppositional, which hinders career growth.
  • The Magic Loop helps build trust and a positive relationship with managers.

A quick summary of the steps in the Magic Loop (00:19:01)

  • Step 1: Make sure you're doing your current job well.
  • Step 2: Ask your manager how you can help.
  • Step 3: Do whatever you're asked to do.
  • Step 4: Suggest or ask to take on additional responsibilities that align with your goals.
  • Step 5: Repeat the loop to build trust and a strong relationship with your manager.

What if you’re not pursuing a promotion? (00:21:46)

  • The Magic Loop can still be helpful even if you're not pursuing a promotion.
  • You can use it to achieve other goals, such as working on different projects, joining a higher-performing team, or rebalancing your work-life balance.
  • If you have the perfect job and don't want to change anything, you may not need the Magic Loop.

How to break out of a career plateau (00:23:09)

  • Senior managers often get stuck at their level due to a limited number of director positions and the current economic climate.
  • To move up, senior managers need to change their behavior and start practicing next-level skills, such as thinking strategically and letting go of details.
  • Patience is required, but there are actions individuals can take to increase their chances of promotion, such as taking on strategic projects and demonstrating inventiveness.
  • Waiting for an opportunity to arise may be necessary, but it's important to be proactive and make oneself the person who will be chosen for promotion.

How to become systematically inventive (00:28:52)

  • To become systematically inventive, one needs to be an expert in the relevant field and dedicate time to thinking about inventions.
  • The most straightforward way to invent is to combine two existing things.
  • It's not necessary to come up with completely new ideas; incremental improvements and optimizations can also be considered inventions.
  • Jeff Bezos believes that most innovation comes from optimizing existing ideas rather than generating entirely new ones.

Interview advice and how to stand out (00:36:04)

  • Appearance and enthusiasm are key factors in interviews.
  • Show interest in the job and the company.
  • Highlight your accomplishments and their impact on previous employers.
  • Focus on how you can contribute to solving the company's problems or needs.
  • Be fully present and engaged during virtual interviews.
  • Prioritize a good night's sleep and energy over obsessing about content.

A story of failing Jeff Bezos (00:40:43)

  • The author, Ethan Evans, shares a story of a major failure during his time at Amazon when he was responsible for launching the Amazon App Store.
  • The launch was delayed due to technical issues with a database, causing frustration and anger from Jeff Bezos.
  • Evans took ownership of the problem, provided regular updates, and sought help from other teams within Amazon.
  • Despite the initial setback, Evans and his team eventually fixed the issue and regained Jeff Bezos' trust.
  • Evans emphasizes the importance of owning up to mistakes, proactively communicating, and maintaining a positive attitude even in challenging situations.
  • He highlights the value of building relationships and learning from failures as key factors in career success.

Lessons learned from that failure (00:50:31)

  • Admit the problem and take ownership.
  • Prioritize and communicate regularly to build trust.
  • Meet in person to resolve conflicts.
  • Work hard and fast to fix the problem.
  • Don't let impostor syndrome hold you back.
  • Mistakes don't define you; learn from them and move on.

What Ethan would have done differently (00:57:30)

  • Avoid surprise launches; beta testing can reveal issues before launch.
  • Provide support and reassurance to team members who make mistakes.
  • Be there for the human behind the mistake and prevent them from feeling undue responsibility.

Amazon’s leadership principles (01:00:35)

  • Ethan Evans helped craft the Amazon leadership principle on ownership.
  • The principle states: "An owner never says that's not my job."
  • Evans believes that ownership is the most impactful thing he has ever written.
  • Other favorite leadership principles include bias for action and leaders are right a lot.
  • The leadership principles have been revised four times in Amazon's history.

Contrarian corner: Returning to the office vs. staying remote (01:08:52)

  • Evans believes that remote work has more potential for improvement than returning to the office.
  • Offices have been around for 300 years, while remote work is still in its early stages.
  • Evans argues that there are many unexplored opportunities with remote work.

Contrarian corner: Doing business on a handshake (01:10:39)

  • Evans believes in doing business on a handshake and trusts people to follow through on their commitments.
  • He acknowledges that he may occasionally get burned, but believes that the cost of being suspicious of people is too high.
  • Sam Altman has a similar philosophy of trusting people and assuming things will be okay.

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