How I accidentally met Andy Jassy @ re:invent 2018 playing blackjack.

August 9, 2021

I’ve been an AWS employee for the last 4 months, the below happened before I was employed by AWS.

At re:invent 2018 I accidentally met Andy Jassy and realized how much Amazon is Customer Obsessed, and not to mention how Andy is so down to earth.

It was a dark and stormy night… just kidding. This was in Vegas, very few dark and stormy nights.

I was working for an AWS Partner, and I’m at re:invent 2018 to check out all the new services being released and to socialize with a few partners. That Wednesday night I was coming back from a few very productive partner meetings and I can say that I was gambling a little bit and winning, which I thought was the highlight of my night.

That is until I was walking through the Venetian and decided to hit up a $15 BlackJack table, ya know, one more chance for a few extra bucks. I’m sitting down with a group and I’m looking over at the gentleman to my right and realize he looks familiar but I can’t put my finger on it. After sitting there for 10 minutes, I realized it was Andy Jassy. I’ve been playing BlackJack for 10 minutes with the CEO of AWS.

Now I’m thinking, what is he doing at a $15 table? Did he forget his wallet? After a few more minutes he gets up, and says he’s cashing out because he has a speech in the morning. The other people with him also get up and leave as well. Once everyone leaves, I decided that I’m calling it a night because I typically don’t like playing a “shoe” by myself when I noticed that one of the gentlemen from Andy’s group left something on the seat. It looked to be an envelope for photos, so I picked it up, look for the nearest Cashiers cage and hurry over hoping to meet up with them.

I get to the cage and the guy who left his stuff behind was walking towards me and I recognized him and handed him the envelope. He was really grateful, thanked me and then Andy proceeded to thank me.

Ok, now what? Do I just walk away? nah, I took the opportunity to thank him for a product that they released in beta called “AWS Landing Zone” (ALZ) and how it’s helped me implement AWS Best Practices for a few enterprise level customers.

The next thing Andy said took me by surprised, he asked me “If we could do something better, what would it be?” Why was the CEO of AWS is asking me? It wasn’t until later that week I realized how Customer Obsessed Amazon is but I’ll get to that in a moment. I proceeded to tell Andy that I wished I had a better way to reach out to AWS and get answers or support for AWS Landing Zone. Every time I do, they have to open a ticket with the ALZ team and it could take a week or two and I’ve already implemented for a number of enterprise customers. I have a huge issue that I can’t get resolved.

If I wasn’t shocked the first time with Andy’s question, I was definitely shocked when he gave me his email address and asked me to email him our conversation and he would get me help. I thanked him and everyone else and headed back to my room. I had a tough time sleeping that night after all the events that happened and running into Andy.

I returned home from re:invent that Friday and around 4pm (EST) I decided to email Andy, thinking that he’s probably really busy from re:invent, maybe he won’t answer my email or has someone else responding to emails so I probably won’t hear back from him until next week, or at all.

30 minutes later I got a reply from Andy who put me in touch with someone that could help with ALZ. The following week I’m working with one of the SME’s for AWS Landing Zone who is my direct contact in all things ALZ. He helped me resolve all my issue, upgrade ALZ to 2.0 and turned me into somewhat of a self-proclaimed expert on the subject.

Amazon has 14 Leadership Principles (LP), but Customer Obsession, is Amazon’s first and most important LP, and Andy proved how much they listen to their customers. It wasn’t a mistake that he was playing @ a $15-dollar table. He was there to listen to customers and find out what they could do to improve things.

This one encounter with AWS CEO really sparked my interested and my passion for AWS even more. But it took me six months to realize it, it wasn’t until then a turn of events prompted me to apply for a position @ AWS. I’ll save that story for my next post.