Jeff Bezos, CEO and Chairman of Amazon.com, shares life-changing advice for you. Watch and the read the transcript below and get inspired.
NOTABLE QUOTE FROM THIS SPEECH:
“I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com, literally billions of dollars of failures.”
Jeff Bezos – CEO and Chairman of Amazon.com
You guys will find that you have passions, and having a passion is a gift. I think we all have passions and you don’t get to choose them, they pick you. But you have to be alert to them. You have to be looking for them.
And when you find your passion, it’s a fantastic gift for you, because it gives you direction, it gives you purpose. You could have a job or you can have a career, or you can have a calling. And the best thing is to have a calling.
And if you find your passion, you’ll have that and all your work won’t feel like work to you.
Many, many kids and many grown-ups do figure out over time what their passions are. And sometimes we let our — I don’t think it’s that hard. I think what happens, though, sometimes is that we let our intellectual selves overrule those passions.
And so that’s what needs to be guarded against.
My job — one of my jobs as the leader of Amazon is to encourage people to be bold. And people love to focus on things that aren’t yet working and that’s good. It’s human nature, that kind of divine discontent can be very helpful.
But you really — you know, it’s incredibly hard to get people to take bold bets. And you need to encourage that. And if you’re going to take bold bets, they’re going to be experiments. And if they’re experiments, you don’t know ahead of time whether they’re going to work.
Experiments are, by their very nature, prone to failure but big successes – a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work. So you know, bold bets: AWS, Kindle, Amazon Prime, our third-party seller business, all of those things are examples of bold bets that did work and they paid for a lot of experiments.
I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com, literally billions of dollars of failures. And you know, you might remember Pets.com or Cosmo or you know, give myself a root canal with no anesthesia very easily, none of those things are fun.
But they also — they don’t matter. What really matters is companies that don’t continue to experiment, companies that don’t embrace failure, they eventually get in a desperate position where only thing they can do is we could kind of Hail Mary bet at the very end of their corporate existence.
Whereas companies that are making bets all along, even big bets but not bet the company bets, I don’t believe in bet the company bets; that’s when you’re desperate. That’s the last thing you can do.
It’s not you can be out of work and be — have terrible work-life balance. Even though you’ve got all the time in the world, you could just feel like oh my god, you know, I’m miserable and you would be draining energy. And so you have to find that harmony. It’s a much better word.
And I think for most people, it’s about meaning. People want to know that they’re doing something interesting and useful. And for us, because of the challenges that we have chosen for ourselves, we get to work in the future. And it’s super fun to work in the future for the right kind of person.
You need to be nimble and robust, so you need to be able to take a punch and you also need to be quick and innovative and doing new things at a high speed. That’s the best defense against the future.
And you have to always be leaning into the future. If you’re leaning away from the future, the future is going to win every time. Never ever ever lean away from the future.
We all have adversity in our lives. I would — I doubt if you really — you know, if you know somebody, any friend, or anybody that you talk to, there’s no lack of adversity. And by the way that’s good, because it’s what teaches us how to get back up.
You fall down, you get back up. It always happens.
And you get certain gifts in life and you want to take advantage of those. But I guess my advice on adversity and success would be — to be proud not of your gifts but of your hard work and your choices.
So you may be — the kinds of gifts you get, you might be really good at Math, it might be really easy for you. That’s a kind of gift. But practicing that Math and taking it to the next step, that could be very challenging and hard and take a lot of sweat. That’s a choice.
You can’t really be proud of your gifts, because they were given to you. You can be grateful for them and thankful for them. But your choices, you choose to work hard. You choose to do hard things. Those are choices that you can be proud of.
Being an inventor requires, because the world is so complicated, you have to be a domain expert. I mean, in a way even if you’re not at the beginning, you have to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn enough so that you become a domain expert.
But the danger is once you’ve become a domain expert, you can be trapped by that knowledge. And so inventors have this paradoxical ability to have that 10,000 hours of practice and be a real domain expert and have that beginner’s mind. Have that that look at it freshly even though they know so much about the domain. And that’s the key to inventing. You have to have both.
And I think that is intentional, I think all of us have that inside of us and we can all do it. But you have to be intentional about it. You have to say, yeah, I am going to become an expert and I’m going to keep my beginner’s mind.
You can’t skip steps. You have to put one foot in front of the other. Things take time. There are no shortcuts but you want to do those steps with passion and ferocity.
It’s easy to have ideas. It’s very hard to turn an idea into a successful product. There are a lot of steps in between; it takes persistence, relentlessness.
So I always tell people who think they want to be entrepreneurs, you need a combination of stubborn, relentlessness and flexibility. And you have to know when to be which. And basically you need to be stubborn on your vision, because otherwise it’ll be too easy to give up.
But you need to be very flexible on the details, because as you go along pursuing your vision, you’ll find that some of your preconceptions were wrong. And you’re going to need to be able to change those things.
So I think taking an idea successfully all the way to the market and turning it into a real product that people care about, and that really improves people’s lives is a lot of hard work.
Don’t try to chase what is kind of the hot passion of the day. I think we actually saw this. I think you see it all over the place in many different contexts. So I think we saw it in the internet world quite a bit where it’s sort of peak of the Internet mania in, say, 1999, you found people who were very passionate of something, they kind of left that job and decided I’m going to do something in the internet because it’s almost like the the 1849 Gold Rush in a way.