Jeff Bezos Shared Some Fascinating Insights On Entrepreneurship, How Amazon Does Business, And More

by 6 months ago
Jeff Bezos David Rubenstein interview

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When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, aka the richest man in the world (depending on what day it is and who you ask), talks people tend to listen.

Which is exactly what a gathering of around 1,500 people did recently as Bezos joined David Rubenstein for an on-stage interview at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

During the more than an hour-long interview, Bezos covered a numerous and wide-ranging topics from entrepreurship, brick-and-mortar stores, President Trump, journalism and the media, his charitable contributions, his space travel company, Blue Origin, and just where in the heck he is going to put Amazon’s much-hyped and long-awaited second headquarters.

After announcing on Twitter earlier in the day that he was donating $2 billion, Bezos spent a portion of the interview discussing one of his other properties, the Washington Post and the criticism it has received from politicians like the president.

“It is a mistake for any elected official, in my opinion – I don’t think this is a very out-there opinion – to attack media and journalists,” he told Rubenstein, adding, “I do defend the Post. I don’t feel the need to defend Amazon.”

And while he didn’t reveal where the second Amazon headquarters is going to be located, which will bring with it 50,000 employees and $5 billion in capital spending with it, Bezos did say, “It’s very simple. We will announce a decision before the end of this year. So we’ve made tremendous progress and the team is working its butts off on it and we will get there.”

Some other notable quotes from this very interesting conversation…

• “If I can make three good decisions a day, that’s enough.”

• “Everything I’ve ever done has started small. It’s hard to remember for you guys, but for me it’s like yesterday I was driving the packages to the post office myself and hoping one day we could afford a forklift.”

• “I can assure you I have never sought that title [world’s richest person]. It was fine being the second wealthiest person in the world. That worked fine.”

• “We buy a bunch of companies every year and I’m always trying to assess when I meet the entrepreneur who founded the company, I’m always trying to figure out one thing first and foremost: Is that person a missionary or a mercenary? The mercenary is trying to flip their stock, the missionaries love their product or their service and love their customer.”

• “We’re very interested in physical stores, but only when we have a differentiated offering, something that’s not ‘me-too.’ And we have ideas about how to merge Prime and Whole Foods, to use Amazon Prime to make Whole Foods a very differentiated space.”

• “All big institutions of any kind are going to be and should be examined, scrutinized, inspected. This is just normal. It’s actually healthy. It’s good. We want to live in a society where people are worried about big institutions.”

• “The secret sauce to Amazon, there are so many principles at Amazon, but the number one thing by far is the incessant, compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.”

• “We are so inventive that whatever regulations are promulgated, however it works, that will not stop us from serving customers.”

He also said that even though he’s the CEO of the company, Amazon doesn’t always get his order right when he shops. He’s just like us!

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