Inspiration from Jeffrey P. Bezos
Estimated Lesson Time: 2 minutes
Jeffrey P. Bezos (1964–) is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, the Internet’s largest e-commerce site with annual sales over $89 billion (2014).
Success is following your passion. In high school, Jeffrey fell in love with computers. He entered Princeton University planning to study physics, but soon returned to his love of computers and graduated with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
Success is knowing that a good education opens doors. As a 1986 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Princeton graduate, Bezos joined FITEL, a high-tech start-up company in New York. Two years later, Bezos began working for Bankers Trust Company in New York, where he led the development of computer systems and became the company’s youngest vice president in 1990.
Success is having vision and seeing opportunity. In 1994, when “e-commerce” was still unheard of, Bezos observed that Internet usage was increasing by 2300 percent a year. He saw an opportunity for a new sphere of commerce and immediately began considering the possibilities.
Success is asking the right questions. In a methodical fashion, Bezos reviewed the top twenty mail order businesses and asked himself which could be conducted more efficiently over the Internet than by traditional means. Books were the obvious solution.
Success is gathering the info needed to succeed. Bezos attended the American Booksellers’ Convention to learn everything he could about the book business.
Success is taking a leap of faith. At the time Bezos had the idea for Amazon, his employers were not ready to back the idea. Jeff knew that the only way to get the business going would be to leave the security of his current job and go off on his own.
Success is adding value to a name. It is not the name that makes the business; it is the business that makes the name. Prior to 1994, “Amazon” was just another noun. Today, it represents a new industry where billions of dollars of goods are being sold each year.
Success is continual improvement. Bezos and his team continued improving the Amazon.com website, introducing such unheard-of features as one-click shopping, customer reviews, and e-mail order verification.
Success is not being afraid of the “big boys.” In 1997 when Amazon.com went public, many skeptics wondered if the company could compete with already established book giants such as Barnes & Noble and Borders once they established an Internet presence. Just two years later, the market value of shares in Amazon was greater than that of its two biggest retail competitors combined, and Borders was striking a deal for Amazon to handle its Internet traffic.
[Sources: http://www.achievement.org, http://www.time.com, http://www.askmen.com]
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)