Taking control of your career | Ethan Evans (Amazon)

Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career

Jan 14 2024 • 1 hr 21 mins

Ethan Evans is a writer, career coach, course instructor, and retired VP at Amazon. During his 15 years at Amazon, he helped invent Prime Video, Amazon Video, the Amazon Appstore, Prime Gaming (formerly Twitch Prime), and Twitch Commerce. Prior to Amazon, Ethan spent 12 years in technical leadership roles at several East Coast startups. He writes a newsletter, Level Up, which publishes candid career advice and has a growing community of ambitious professionals to connect with. Ethan also offers a range of Leadership Development Courses via live online classes and on-demand courses. In this episode, we discuss:

• The Magic Loop framework: a five-step process to grow your career

• A handful of reasons why people get stuck in their career growth

• Advice on how to break out of a career plateau

• How to cultivate inventiveness in your work

• How to stand out in interviews

• A personal story of failing Jeff Bezos and lessons learned

• Contrarian opinions on the return-to-office movement and doing business on a handshake

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Find the full transcript at: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/taking-control-of-your-career-ethan-evans-amazon/

Where to find Ethan Evans:

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ethanevansvp/

• Substack: https://levelupwithethanevans.substack.com/

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• X: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Ethan’s background

(04:25) The Magic Loop

(08:31) The goal of the Magic Loop

(10:59) Clarifications on the framework

(12:46) Success stories

(17:22) The importance and effectiveness of the Magic Loop

(19:01) A quick summary of the steps in the Magic Loop

(21:46) What if you’re not pursuing a promotion?

(23:09) How to break out of a career plateau

(28:52) How to become systematically inventive

(36:04) Interview advice and how to stand out

(40:43) A story of failing Jeff Bezos

(50:31) Lessons learned from that failure

(57:30) What Ethan would have done differently

(01:00:35) Amazon’s leadership principles

(01:08:52) Contrarian corner: Returning to the office vs. staying remote

(01:10:39) Contrarian corner: Doing business on a handshake

(01:11:52) Lightning round


• The Magic Loop: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/the-magic-loop

• SDE levels: https://www.masaischool.com/blog/understanding-sde-levels-sde-1-vs-sde-2-vs-sde-3-differences/

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful: https://www.amazon.com/What-Got-Here-Wont-There/dp/1401301304

• Thomas Edison’s quote: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/thomas_a_edison_109928

• Jeff Bezos: Amazon and Blue Origin | Lex Fridman Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcWqzZ3I2cY

• Unpacking Amazon’s unique ways of working | Bill Carr (author of Working Backwards): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/unpacking-amazons-unique-ways-of-working-bill-carr-author-of-working-backwards/

Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Working-Backwards-Insights-Stories-Secrets/dp/1250267595

• Jeff Wilke on X: https://twitter.com/jeffawilke

• Andy Jassy on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andy-jassy-8b1615/

• Werner Vogels on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wernervogels/

• Amazon’s Silk browser explained: https://www.androidpolice.com/amazon-silk-browser-explainer/

• Chickens and pigs: https://www.scrum.org/resources/chickens-and-pigs

• 58% of tech employees experience imposter syndrome. Here’s how to overcome it: https://medium.com/wearefutureworks/58-of-tech-employees-experience-imposter-syndrome-heres-how-to-overcome-it-78172d8a2258

• Jeff Bezos to exec after product totally flopped: ‘You can’t, for one minute, feel bad’: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/22/jeff-bezos-why-you-cant-feel-bad-about-failure.html

• Amazon’s leadership principles: https://www.amazon.jobs/content/en/our-workplace/leadership-principles

• Sam Altman on X: https://twitter.com/sama

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work: https://www.amazon.com/Decisive-Make-Better-Choices-Life/dp/0307956393

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box: https://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Self-Deception-Getting-Out-Box/dp/1523097809

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness: https://www.amazon.com/Almanack-Naval-Ravikant-Wealth-Happiness/dp/1544514212/

• Angel list: https://venture.angellist.com/naval/syndicate

• Naval Ravikant on X: https://twitter.com/naval

1923 on Paramount+: https://www.paramountplus.com/shows/1923/

Yellowstone on Paramount+: https://www.paramountnetwork.com/shows/yellowstone

• Chuckit! dog toys: https://www.chuckit-toys.co.uk/

• Luke 12:48: https://law.utk.edu/2016/05/10/to-whom-much-is-given-much-will-be-required

• The Challenger space shuttle disaster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster

• Ethan’s popular course on Maven: https://maven.com/ethan-evans/break-through-to-executive

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

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