Jeff Bezos at re:MARS: 5 standout business tips from the Amazon CEO

By Mark Sullivan

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talked about a range of subjects (space, ideas, the future) at the re:MARS conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, but he seemed most excited when asked for simple business advice. Here are five of his standout quotes from the “fireside chat.”

  • On bringing real passion to business: “You’ll be competing against those who are passionate . . . You have to be a missionary, not a mercenary. And, paradoxically, the missionaries end up making more money.”
  • On taking on risk: “If you have a business idea with no risk, it’s probably already being done. You’ve got to have something that might not work. It will be, in many ways, an experiment. We take risks all the time, we talk about failure.”
  • On failing: “We need big failures in order to move the needle. If we don’t, we’re not swinging enough. You really should be swinging hard, and you will fail, but that’s okay. When you swing hard in baseball, the maximum number of runs you can get is four. When you swing hard in business, you can get 100 runs. So you really should swing hard, and you are going to fail a lot, and you need a culture that supports that. When do you know when to stop? When the last champion is ready to throw in the towel, it’s time to stop. And usually, that last champion is me.”
  • On being right: “People who are right a lot listen a lot, and they change their mind a lot. People who are right a lot change their mind without a lot of new data. They wake up and reanalyze things and change their mind. If you don’t change your mind frequently, you’re going to be wrong a lot. People who are right a lot want to disconfirm their fundamental biases. “
  • On the mission of Blue Origin: “The reason we go to space is to save the earth . . . We need to move industry to the moon. Earth will be zoned residential. The earth will be zoned for residential and light industry.”

BONUS to the interviewer after a woman protesting chicken farming broke onto the stage in the middle of his talk, who asked Bezos: “Do you have a response to that?”

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