It is not the critic who counts ...

• 534 words

When Steve Case was asked "how do you turn defeat in to victory" he gracefully quoted Teddy Roosevelt. It is a great speech that will probably inspire people forever.

I believe the sentiment of that speech is even more important today. We are enjoying a tremendous rise in entrepreneurial activities and the many startups in technology and in the consumer internet are driving hard to innovate and get their product in the hands of customers at neck breaking speeds. At AWS we are proud to power many of these companies and in my personal interactions I see a whole new generation of technology leaders arising who will have impact for a long time to come. At the same time the real-time nature of our new communication channels facilitate delivery of brutal criticism from all over the world instantly to the doorstep of every entrepreneur. For those younger leaders who have grown up deeply enmeshed with these channels the noise can be deafening and discouraging. Especially if it becomes difficult to distinguish valid customer feedback from an echo-chamber where it still is easier to criticize than to praise. I have seen several cases now where a young business with disruptive product is quickly confronted with incumbents who work hard to use 140 character FUD to steer the conversation towards possible shortcomings in early releases and away from the promise these products hold. Under those conditions it is often challenging to maintain focus on what really counts: the delivery of real products in the hands of real customers. That it should be the customer who drives the product not the critic. Which is why Roosevelt's century old speech is still an excellent inspiration for modern day entrepreneurs.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat

At Amazon we are fortunate to be driven by a single vision; the be earth's most customer-centric company. Which is true for our retail business as well as our cloud computing business. At AWS we continue to relentlessly focus on delivery, on getting products in the hands of customers early and on allowing them to drive the evolution of our products. Not all products will be an immediate run-away success and some innovations will take time to reach their full potential, but we are committed to have all of our products evolve until they deliver maximum value for our customers.

It is the customer who counts, not the critic.