Working Yourself to Death at Your Startup

Amazon got a bit of a kick in the teeth this week from the NY Times. A well-researched article painstakingly detailed the exciting/deadly working conditions at the company that wants to deliver everything to everyone all the time. Who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with Amazon? I know I do. Love the access to books and other stuff I want. Love creator-centered platforms like Kindle. Love the company culture that pushes to the edges of innovation. Hate the hubris. Hate the idea that it’s okay to work employees in 100-degree heat with an ambulance outside to cart them away when they drop. (True story.)

All company culture is top-down. Amazon is an expression of the brilliant/crazy mind of Jeff Bezos, who believes in tracking everything, intense competition, and the positives of a negative work environment. Zappos is an expression of the brilliant/quirky mind of Tony Hsieh, who is trying to remove the hierarchy in his corporate structure. (It’s not going so well.)

People like Bezos and Hsieh are like you: intensely focused on a world-changing idea, drinking their own Kool-Aid and trying to …

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