They’re two of the biggest and most influential companies on the planet, but in many ways Amazon and Google are polar opposites when it comes to company culture and business strategy.
Richard Russell spent over eight years collectively at both Google and Amazon before founding his own company, where he teaches others how to apply the principles and tools he’s learned to their own businesses.
I sat down recently with Russell to demystify some of the differences between his former employers, and to highlight some of the key lessons he now shares with his clients.
According to Russell, Google’s basic interview question is: “How smart are you?”
“Google hires smart people, gives them perks to make them happy, and then provides them with freedom (and hard problems) in the hope that wonderful things will happen,” Russell told me. “Overall, they tend to get hard workers, but it’s not the primary goal. This means that at Google, most people err on the side of doing or saying things to show how smart they are.”
In contrast, Amazon’s basic interview question is: “What have you done?”
“Amazon hires people who get a lot done, apply structured pressure and guidance, and give them hard problems (and freedom) in the hope that lots of things will get done,” explains Russell. “Overall, they tend to get a lot of smart people, but it’s not the primary goal. This means that at Amazon, most people err on the side of getting things done and don’t talk about it that much.”