It’s no secret that Amazon.
com is dominatingmultiple aspects of our daily lives.
We can find just about everything we could possiblyneed on their site, and if you have Amazon Prime, you only wait two days for free delivery.
For our digital media, we can read books on the Kindle, listen to music with Alexa, andwatch on-demand movies and TV series.
This all started with an idea that exploded intoa digital revolution.
So, who is the man behind the trillion dollar company? On today’sepisode of Biographics, we’re talking about Jeff Bezos.
Early Life On January 12th, 1964, a 17-year girl namedJacklyn Gise gave birth to a baby boy named Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
She was married to Jeff’s biological father, Ted Jorgensen for just one year whileshe finished earning her High School diploma, but the relationship was not meant to last, and they got a divorce.
Jacklyn later remarried a man named Mike Bezos, who was a Cuban immigrantwho earned a college scholarship in the US.
They had two children together, and they gavealso Jeff the last name Bezos.
Jeff grew up in a very loving and supportivefamily.
His stepfather, Mike, was very resourceful and hardworking.
His mother was very lovingand supportive, and she was especially concerned about making sure her son got the best educationpossible.
She put Jeff into a Montessori School.
The idea behind this educational method isto allow a child to excel in their natural talents, so they choose what they want tolearn at their own pace, instead of forcing every child to learn the same things at thesame time.
Jeff was extremely focused on his school work, even from a young age.
Afterthe alloted time in each subject was up, his teachers had a hard time getting him to moveon to the next topic.
In preschool, they had to pick him up while still sitting in hischair and move him just to break his concentration.
Jeff Bezos spent his summer vacations livingwith his grandparents and helping them run their ranch in Texas.
His grandparents ownedan airstream trailer, so they would go on long road trip vacations together as well.
During these road trips, he would find excuses to do math problems on a scrap of paper, liketheir average gas mileage, and how much they were spending on groceries.
Even though hehelped around the ranch with the chores, he did not particularly enjoy the outdoors, andhe preferred to watch TV and read books.
At a very early age, Jeff Bezos was showingsigns that he was a genius.
His grandfather was also a very intelligent man, and he couldsee the potential in Jeff’s future.
So he gave him some very valuable advice, whichstuck with him for the rest of his life.
Bezos explained, “It’s harder to be kind thanclever.
Cleverness is a gift.
Kindness is a choice, and choices can be hard.
You canseduce yourself with your gifts, if you’re not careful.
” He spent the rest of hislife reminding himself that no matter how much he accomplished, he would try to staydown-to-earth.
At home, his mother allowed him to have aworkshop in their garage, where he built a solar cooker, a hovercraft, and even installeda security alarm on his bedroom door.
He was competing in science fairs, reading sciencefiction novels, and watching episodes of Star Trek on TV.
When he was just 10 years old, he found a teletype computer at his school.
He and his friends found out that there wasa Star Trek game pre-programmed into the system called Trek73, so he and his friends usedthe computer to play the game.
This sparked his interest in computer programing, and itwould carry on for the rest of his life.
Jeff Bezos started his first business in HighSchool.
He was disappointed by the quality of his town’s local summer camp where kidswere just playing games outside most of the day and not really learning anything.
So hefounded a new camp called The Dream Institute.
They allowed kids from the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade to attend, and focused on teaching children about important works ofliterature in a fun and exciting way.
The business was a success, and many of thesekids who were doing their summer reading would then go on to get better grades in school.
Not surprisingly, he was the valedictorianof his High School class, and during his graduation speech, he said that he believed that oneday, human beings would colonize space.
After graduation, he attended Princeton Universityand earned a degree in computer science.
His first job was at a startup called Fitel.
Whileworking there, he was expected to fly between New York and London nearly every week to gethis job done, which was costing the company a tremendous amount of money.
He realizedthat this was not the most efficient way to run a business, and it got him thinking aboutall of the different things he would do more efficiently if he ran his own company oneday.
His next job was at Banker’s Trust, whichgave him some experience in the financial industry.
Next, he worked for an investmentfirm on Wallstreet called D.
He helped to develop software for trading stocks online.
As the years went on, Jeff Bezos was staying on top of the news about the growth of theInternet.
He realized that every single year, the number of people who were using the internetwas increasing by 2, 300%.
Even though the World Wide Web had many naysayers, he knewthat the internet wasn’t just a passing fad, and it would become apart of people’s dailylives in the future.
He knew early on to take advantage of this, and Bezos figured thatif he could he could genuinely create an online business that would help people make theirlives easier, it would last.
His motto was, “Think about the customer, and then workfrom there.
” Personal LifeBefore Jeff Bezos met his wife, MacKenzie, he said that he was looking for “a resourcefulwoman”, because he always admired how his own parents would work as a team to make duewith their circumstances.
He later joked that he meant he was looking for a McGyvery ofsorts, like someone who could “get me out of a third-world prison.
” He was lucky tofind her while he was still at his job working for D.
MacKenzie Tuttle was a fellow Princeton alumniwho was applying to work for the firm.
Since Jeff Bezos was the one in charge of hiringnew candidates, he saw her resume, and even before meeting her, he knew that she was clearlya very intelligent and capable woman.
When she arrived for the job interview, hefelt cupid’s arrow strike him in the heart.
Even though office romances are sometimesfrowned upon, they fell in love.
Even though he secretly admired her, he did not want tocross the line, so MacKenzie actually made the first move to ask him out for lunch.
Theywere dating for just three months before they got engaged, and they got married in 1993.
When Jeff Bezos turned 30 years old, they had been married for only a year.
He toldhis wife about his idea for an online bookstore, and that he wanted to quit his job in orderto pursue it.
They decided to leave New York City in 1994.
Bezos chose to start his companyin Seattle, because it is also the location of Microsoft, so there was a lot of talentin the tech industry living there for him to find employees.
It’s also far cheaperto start a company there compared to New York or Silicon Valley.
They now have several children together, andthey built a rock solid foundation together long before Amazon.
com ever existed.
Oncethe company began to do well, Mackenzie was able to fulfill her dream of becoming a publishedauthor.
Today, Jeff Bezos still puts family first.
He says that he refuses to take anymeetings before 10AM, because spending time with his family and have breakfast with hischildren before they go to school is far more important to him than anything else.
The Beginning of AmazonWhen Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos first moved out to the west coast to start Amazon.
comin 1994, and at that time, the website only sold used books.
In his mind, Jeff Bezos imagineda bookstore with millions of titles, and he knew that would eventually be the end-goal.
MacKenzie did the accounting, and he began building the website and sourcing inventory.
In the beginning, they ran the company out of their garage.
After receiving an orderfor a book, Jeff would then go to thrift stores and used book shops looking for the book thatwas requested, and then send it to the customer in the mail.
If he could not find it, he wouldsource it from somewhere else online, just to make sure the sale went through.
This way, they were able to run the company without using very much physical space storing a libraryof books.
When they were ready to hire a team to help them run the business out of theirhouse, the staff of an Amazon.
com was only 8 people.
Since the company did not have verymuch money, he asked his employees to make desks out of old doors.
Even to this day, the door desk is still a tradition in the Amazon.
Before bringing the website live on the worldwide web, Bezos sent it to 300 of his friends, so that they could test it beforehand.
Whenthe team was getting ready to officially launch the site in 1995, they had set up the computerto ding every time that there was a sale.
In the beginning, everyone would shout andcheer every time there was a new sale, but within just a few days, there were so manysales, that they grew tired of the noise and they had to turn it off.
The website was sopopular, they were getting business through word-of-mouth without paying a dime for presscoverage.
Jeff’s idea was working, and it was clear to the team that the company wouldbecome a success.
The reason why Amazon.
com succeeded so quicklywas that Bezos was filling a very real need for people.
It was the very first online bookstore, even two years before Barnes and Noble began selling their stock on the internet.
Eversince then, Amazon continued to pioneer various aspects of incorporating the internet intopeople’s daily lives, and he says that for 7 years, there was no similar competitionout there who were even thinking on the scale that he was.
In 1997, Bezos wanted to take Amazon.
Thankfully, he still had connections on Wallstreet, so he knew exactly how to approach investorswith a business plan.
He fully admitted that he did not actually intend to make any profitsfor the first 5 years that the company was operating.
Jeff Bezos gave stock options toall of his original employees, and this made them very motivated to make the company succeed.
After a couple years, every single one of those 8 original employees had become multi-millionaires.
After a while, Bezos wanted to sell far morethan just books.
He emailed 1, 000 random customers asking what sort of items that would wantto buy on the internet.
Soon enough, he was getting replies of items in just about everycategory.
He realized that he wanted to grow Amazon into a store that sold everything, and he began using the same method that he had with books; listing a product online, buying the item in person, and then shipping it to the customer.
Of course, this only helped the company groweven more.
But even after earning millions of dollars, Bezos continue to drive his beat-upold Honda.
He wanted to show his employees that he still stood by his core values offrugality and resourcefulness.
Instead of spending that money on himself, he re-investedthe money to make Amazon.
They bought out other competing online book retailers, and brought them into the fold.
He also decided to give anyone in the United States the opportunityto sell on the Amazon.
com platform as third-party sellers, which only made the platform stronger, because it expanded their inventory.
Every decision Jeff Bezos made for the expandingbusiness was with the future in mind.
When he learned about e-books, he gave people theopportunity to self-publish their work online for the first time and earn an income forthemselves.
Next, he developed the Kindle e-reader to give people a place to read allof their e-books.
When he knew digital streaming service became popular, he jumped on thatbandwagon, too.
The list goes on and on.
com is one of the most massive corporationsin the world, and they have dipped their toes into so many different industries at thispoint, it’s hard to keep track.
Amazon has been criticized for putting independentbookstores out of business.
Even major corporations like Borders Books could not compete.
com’s former manager, Mike Daisey, “(Amazon is) designed from the ground upto be a shark.
It’s designed to dissolve and destroy other businesses by undercuttingthem”.
However, Jeff Bezos argues that he should not be blamed for the downfall of theseother businesses, because the future was coming no matter what, whether it was him, or someoneelse.
Jeff Bezos says that whenever he makes a majorbusiness decision, he imagines himself at 80 years old, and if he would be proud ofhis actions looking back.
If the answer is “yes”, he listens to his intuition, andgoes for it.
By listening to his heart, he has become one of the most successful peoplein the world.
com has been so incredibly successful, and a lot of people attribute it to Jeff Bezos’skills in leadership.
He has a list of core values for Amazon, and he always abides bythose rules himself, in order to set a good example for his employees.
At the end of theDot-Com bubble, the value of Amazon’s stock went from $113 per share all the way downto $6 per share.
For many members of the original team, they lost millions of dollars in theirstock portfolio, and this was enough to destroy the vast majority of those early internetbusinesses.
One of the many reasons why Amazon survived was that Jeff Bezos wasn’t judgingthe business success on the stock price.
He knew that people were still using the website, and that it was growing every day.
As we mentioned before, Bezos always madehis customers his number one priority.
Whenever he received a very serious complaint, he wouldnever try to reprimand his employees for making a mistake.
Instead, he would forward a particularlytroubling customer complaint to the managers of each department with a simple questionmark in the subject line.
According to former employees, getting one of these question marke-mails was terrifying, and they would quickly do everything they could to fix the problemimmediately.
When the issue was resolved, Bezos would simply reply with a smiley face.