on Why every startup should adopt Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles, with examples

Marc Hoag
17 min readJun 7, 2018
Credit: Rahul Chakraborty

Marc is a California-licensed attorney and serial startup founder / product manager. He recently launched Future Perfect, a daily 3-minute newsletter on the top news in climate change, clean energy, and autonomous/electric vehicles. He also created Autonomous Cars with Marc Hoag, the first organic result on Google for “autonomous cars podcasts” with 199 episodes including interviews with industry leaders like founders, engineers, academics, and more.

To say that I dove headfirst into life as an entrepreneur back in October 2010 would be inaccurate. That I fell backwards, arms flailing, would be more precise.

As I’ve said time and again, choosing to be an entrepreneur is not some sort of conscious, willful decision: “Hm, yes, I think I’d like a filet mignon, or a chocolate sundae; yes, I think I’d like to become an entrepreneur today.”

No. You can no more consciously choose to be an entrepreneur than you can choose whether to be hungry: you either are, or you aren’t.

Being an entrepreneur — committing to building and running a startup — is an all-encompassing lifestyle; it’s something you do not because you want to do it, but because you’re compelled to do it.

Thing is though, what happens once you get started? How do you ensure that you continuously push forward, accelerating at a faster and faster rate, but that you continue to do so correctly, and for the right reasons, and that you ultimately succeed in your venture?

The answer is guidance. Not just by way of friends, family, and trusted advisors, but by adherence to values or principles to which your team is anchored, and from which, you derive stability, focus, and accountability.

As I think back over the last (nearly) eight years of running two startups, it’s clear to me now that I should have established, from the beginning, our own explicitly enumerated principles.

Better yet, I wish I had discovered Amazon’s (apparently now famous) 14 Leadership Principles: they’ve already done all the hard work for us.

When I first stumbled across these “LPs,” as they’re known at Amazon, I went through the following various thoughts: holy…