The Empty Chair
Jeff Bezos launched Amazon nearly two decades ago as an online book store and turned it into a global giant getting everything you need from books and kindles to canned goods. If you want it, the chances are Amazon has it and delivers it to you cheaper and faster than almost anybody else.
One year shy of his fiftieth birthday, Bezos is among the 30 richest people on the planet with an estimated net worth of 19 billion dollars. Although, it took seven years for Amazon to break into the black, the company has never looked back since first turning a profit in 2001.
What is the secret of Amazon’s success?
The Empty Chair Philosophy!
Amazon in all its important meetings, alongside the chairs in which, its executives from different functional areas take their places, includes one more chair that remains empty. It is there to remind all the participants who is the most important person in the room: The Customer. And Jeff Bezo’s concern for customers is rather obsessional.
Daniel Pink, in his very well argued and articulated book, To Sell is Human describes the empty chair philosophy clearly. The empty chair has become legendary in Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. Seeing it encourages meeting participants to take the perspective of that invisible but essential person – The Customer. What is going through the customer’s mind? What are her concerns? What would he think of the ideas we are putting forward?
Want to build a great brand, company and business?
Try the empty chair philosophy in your business or organization or even your own world. The empty chair can represent the target audience and their interests in preparing your presentation. If you are collecting and compiling material for a sales call, it can help generate and visualize possible questions and objections that the prospects might raise. If you are preparing material to train your team on a product, process or project, the empty chair can remind you of their perspective.
Every which way you look, when you have to move others, gaining an insight into their perspectives is invaluable. Exiting your own perspective and entering theirs is essential in persuading others. As Daniel Pink suggests, one smart, easy, and effective way to get inside peoples’ heads is to climb into their chairs!