Earlier this year, I walked into one of Amazon’s sleek Manhattan offices for the first time, slid past a slew of color-splashed elevator banks, and zipped on up to an exciting new chapter of my career.
I had landed a job as a senior editor in December, and in the days leading up to my start date, I spoke with a string of people—friends who work at Amazon, as well as some of my future colleagues—about what I might expect once I start at the company. Some of those well-placed insights are already well documented in the public eye: the company’s data-driven focus, a culture of invention, a workplace that prizes a bias for action.
Of course, it wasn’t until I finally arrived at the Fifth Avenue office building—and stepped off that elevator—that I truly gleaned the full picture. As a member of our Owned Content and Channels team, I get to peek behind the curtain and help focus the spotlight on the many exciting projects, initiatives and innovations at the company. Here are four things I learned in my first 30 days on the job.

Page overview

Amazon employees live and breathe by 16 key tenets, known as our Leadership Principles

Amazon employees live and breathe by 16 key tenets, known as our Leadership Principles
Most meetings start with a ‘doc read’
Each Amazon office building has its own code name. Meet ‘Hank.’
It’s a dog day afternoon. Literally.
Amazon employees live and breathe by 16 key tenets, known as our Leadership Principles

Think Big. Invent and Simplify. Learn and Be Curious. I'd hear these phrases around the office in my first few weeks. These are just three of the 16 Leadership Principles that serve as the backbone of everything at Amazon. Think of them as the North Star that guides each employee, each decision, each new vision for innovation—and always with the customer front and center. They’re introduced to each potential Amazon employee early on, from the very first job interview, and it’s been energizing to see how they’re truly applied and invoked on a daily basis here, from big company meetings to small one-on-one brainstorms with colleagues.

Amazon's Leadership Principles
An Amazon interviewer dives deep into how she uses the Leadership Principles

Liz Jones, an Amazon Bar Raiser, explains how important our famous Leadership Principles are in her work at Amazon.

Most meetings start with a ‘doc read’

Do you know what a “doc read” is? I certainly didn’t until I joined Amazon as an employee. You see, my first meeting was a complete culture shift: For the first 10 minutes, it was silent. That’s because we spent it reading a detailed document of the meeting’s agenda, written with the care and fluency of a well-researched quarterly report. It was like a kind of study hall. Document writing is a crucial part of Amazon’s culture, I would discover, and in many ways the great equalizer: It ensures that what’s on the page takes center stage, versus, say, a PowerPoint deck that coasts on the charisma of whoever presents it. It forces everyone to present ideas clearly and to focus on the ideas that are presented to us. So nope, there was nothing wrong with the volume on my call, I would happily learn.

Each Amazon office building has its own code name. Meet ‘Hank.’

“So you're based out of Hank?” a colleague from another Amazon office location asked me via Slack. To which I replied in utter cluelessness, “What’s a Hank?” Turns out, it’s the name of the New York City office building where I work, which comes with its own storied history: It was the former home of the department store Lord & Taylor. The building has since undergone an extensive restoration (it was designated a landmark in 2007) and features elegant architectural details, light-filled spaces and a striking view of the Empire State Building. As for why it’s called “Hank?” That’s the textile industry unit of measurement for yarn, as an homage to the building’s famous past.

interior and exterior images from the new jfk27 office building hank in midtown manhattanAmazon's office on Fifth Avenue in New York City.Photo by Hollis Johnson
It’s a dog day afternoon. Literally.

Work-life balance, you say? More like woof-life balance. Amazon, I would quickly discover, is a very dog-friendly office. Colleagues saunter in with laptop in one hand, dog leash in the other. There’s even a dog park on our Manhattan office’s roof deck. Dogs have always been an essential part of Amazon’s culture, dating back to the company’s early days when a Corgi named Rufus was an office mainstay. (He’s also the namesake for our newly launched generative AI-powered expert shopping assistant.)

An image of dogs in the office at Amazon's Seattle headquarters with employees. Every pup gets a badge that gives them access to their assigned building.

Today, more than 10,000 dogs are registered to come to work at over a hundred Amazon offices across the U.S. and Australia, and adorable pets of every kind pop up on video calls. Who needs a coffee run when a dog run can perk you up?

Read more about what it's like working at Amazon.