Friday, Apr 16th 2021

The price of originality


This week, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos released his final letter to shareholders. As usual, it didn't disappoint.

Jeff's shareholders letters have been amongst the most closely followed in the investment community because of their depth of wisdom and relentless focus on principles of long-term value creation.

What we found most interesting in this year's letter was his remarks on the notion of originality - and how it must be relentlessly pursued, or run the risk of being normalized away by external forces:

"We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable. We are all taught to “be yourself.” What I’m really asking you to do is to embrace and be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness. The world wants you to be typical – in a thousand ways, it pulls at you. Don’t let it happen."

We think this is an extremely important point that is illustrated all the time in the world of business and investing. Innovative disrupters slowly transform into the very incumbents they displaced. "Contrarian" investors suddenly rush to the safety of the herd as soon as the market's tide goes out. The list goes on.

Market environments have a tendency to normalize and mean revert the participants within them. Maintaining a culture and psychology that pushes back against that tendency is not easy.

Perhaps that's why for all the changes Amazon has gone through since its late 90s founding, Bezos has consistently emphasized the idea that "it remains day 1" in each and every one of his shareholder letters.

We encourage you to read the full letter for more details on the principles that have helped fuel Amazon's success.  For the full letter, head to the link above.

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