Jeff Bezos Explains Why He Speaks Last In Meetings

The image of a company CEO is someone who leads discussions at meetings and charts the agenda for everyone, but one of the most prominent CEOs around does just the opposite.

Jeff Bezos says he always speaks last in any meeting he attends at Amazon. “You want to set up your culture so that the most junior person can overrule the most senior person if they have data,” he said on the Lex Fridman podcast. “There are little things you can do. So, for example, in every meeting that I attend, I always speak last,” he says.

Bezos further elaborated on his choice of speaking last in meetings. “I know from experience that if I speak first, even very strong willed, highly intelligent, high judgment participants in that meeting will wonder, well, if Jeff thinks that, I came in this meeting thinking one thing, but maybe I’m not right,” he says. Bezos implied that him going first will prevent more junior people in the meeting from freely speaking their minds.

“If you’re the most senior person in the room, go last, let everybody else go first,” Bezos explained. “In fact, ideally, try to have the most junior person go first and the second, then try to go in order of seniority, so that you can hear everyone’s opinion in a kind of unfiltered way. Because we really change our opinions — if somebody who you really respect says something makes you change your mind a little,” he said.

Bezos’ choice of speaking last in meetings ensures that meeting participants aren’t swayed by what he feels, and are able to frankly share their views. And it’s perhaps little culture hacks like these, which give employees a voice, which have made Amazon into the global behemoth that it is.