Over on the brilliant new Fight The Bull blog, there’s been an ongoing saga about Amazon sales ranks. It culminated in their receiving a reply (of sorts) to their questions from some underling that failed completely to give clarity. The observations in the entry about this rang so true with me that I felt I had to propagate them:

It’s worth noting that we give Jeff considerable props in our book. He is one of the few CEOs we point to as beacons of clarity and personality. I have even been lucky enough to meet him, and he is indeed a humble, witty guy — full of spunk and character. I am a big fan.

Which is why this interaction with him is so distressing. Because in a million years, on his worst day at the office, if Amazon was bleeding cash, if the stock was in the toilet, even if he just found out his wife was leaving him, he never would have responded this way.

At the beginning of every conversation we have about the book, the other party invariably asks, “So, why do business people speak like idiots?” Well, this is precisely why. Because we outsource our voice to people who don’t have the confidence or clout to communicate with humor or humanity.

People are worried about outsourcing work. I think they need to worry more about outsourcing their voice, their personality and their spark. Perhaps this is where it all goes wrong in the progression from startup -> massive company.