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My Notes from Jeff and Mark Bezo’s Rare Interview

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 02-01-19

This interview was conducted in 2017  but I only just watched it (but wrote it before the news of his pending divorce). It is very unique, with Jeff Bezos’ brother conducting the interview, and at no point do they delve into the Amazon.com business model. It is really about Jeff, which makes it very interesting. Here are a few of my notes while listening:

Having the interview done by his brother is interesting. They are not in awe of the person they are interviewing. And it’s a reminder that no matter how rich or famous you are, your family will always help you find your center.

Invent your way out of a box. Being resourceful is a key trait. Jeff’s wife has a saying: “I’d rather have a kid with 9 fingers than have them not be resourceful.”

An interesting question was if Amazon wasn’t successful, what would you be doing? The answer was that he would be a very happy software engineer. What makes this an interesting question is that it informs you about your own passions. Your current job might have a lot to do with circumstances, sometimes for the better (Amazon.com) and sometimes not. But if those circumstances didn’t lead to your dream job, what can you do to change that? This is followed by a discussion of his childhood passion for space, which has carried into his Blue Origin project (made possible by the circumstances of Amazon.com).

Part of Jeff’s character is to think in both decades and centuries (not just quarters). This is consistent with Toyota’s way of thinking. His point is that you have far more opportunities if you consider what you can do in 7 years or more, rather than just what you can do in three years.

Jeff frequently opens with a very specific toast: “To adventure and fellowship.” Those are fantastic words through which to live your life. The point to fellowship is that he isn’t on his phone the whole time, he engages with who he is around. He says “he doesn’t like to multitask.”

Jeff on work/life balance: He prefers the phrase work/life harmony over work/life balance. This is a phrase I’ve used for a very long time. I haven’t always achieved harmony or balance, but it is NOT about separation from each other but integration with each other. Can you bring energy to all of those things? Balance as a metaphor is dangerous because it implies there is a tradeoff. Jeff uses the example of someone being out of work could still not be there for their family.

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