I’m really torn on this one. You’ll find some real gems in “Invent & Wander” that every entrepreneur should read. However, I found the book to be incredibly repetitive which was frankly annoying. It’s already pretty short at just 275 pages but I feel it could have been half that.
The repetitiveness is most likely just a result of the format of the book. It encompasses all of Jeff Bezos’ shareholder letters between 1997 and 2019 and concludes with a number of speeches that he has given over the years. The book doesn’t mean to be repetitive—it’s just that Bezos repeats himself throughout these letters and speeches.
Most interesting is how we can see both Bezos and the company evolve over those years through the shareholder letters. The letters are full of lessons that every business owner should know. I was especially interested in how Bezos experiments, isn’t scared to fail, and through those experiments, he finds absolutely game changing products and services, such as Amazon Prime.
Just look at the last year and how Amazon Prime has helped save a lot of people in this country. I don’t mean that lightly and I don’t think I’m over exaggerating. Through Amazon, we no longer even need to go to the store. In the beginning of the pandemic, we were able to completely shelter in place with Amazon boxes showing up at the doorstep every day. Here, Bezos explains how his company was able to make it through a crisis while helping the country in the process.
For an entrepreneur, the most valuable lessons come in a small five page chapter titled “Thinking Three Years Out.” Here, Bezos lays out his day in which he tries to make just three big decisions every day. Those three big decisions don’t impact today, this quarter or even this year. They are decisions for three years out.
I most enjoyed Bezos’ thoughts on space near the very end of the book. They are so completely different than the views of Elon Musk, and in his words, you can even find a few subtle jabs at Musk. These two differing views and the competition between these two men may literally save the human race one day.
Look, I loved this book. I really did. I was just sick of hearing some of the same stories over and over again by the end. We get it, Jeff. Your mom got pregnant in high school and the principal tried to kick her out. Telling the story once is enough. But honestly, if the receptiveness gets us these valuable lessons, I’ll take it.