How does one become the richest man on Earth? Is it education, background, luck, or a little bit of everything? The stories of those who were not born into wealth, but created their own empire are always incredibly interesting and often very inspiring.
The story of Jeffrey Preston Bezos is not an exception: being the founder and the CEO of Amazon, he had a career leading up to his current success. At 56 years old he is the wealthiest person in the world for the third year in a row. In 2018 his net worth exceeded $200 billion. Currently, it is evaluated at $175.3 billion. Here is the inspirational story of the most successful person of our time.
Jeffrey Jorgensen was born in Mexico, in a family of a 17-year old student and a bike shop owner. Several years later his parents got divorced and his mother remarried. Her new husband, Miguel Bezos, adopted the boy whose last name was changed to Bezos. The family moved to Houston, Texas, where Jeff attended elementary school and then to Miami, Florida, where he went to high school. While studying in high school, Jeff also worked the breakfast shift in McDonald’s. A huge inspiration for Bezos was his grandfather, whose ranch he spent many summers at. In 2010 he said that his grandfather taught him that “it’s harder to be kind than clever.”
Bezos was fascinated with space and always wanted to be a space entrepreneur. He displayed interest and great abilities in science and technology and graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Moreover, as an extraordinary student he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity, a prestigious academic honor society. His brilliant education and hard work opened many possibilities for his career.
After graduating, Bezos was offered jobs at such companies as Intel and Bell Labs and worked in his field on Wall Street. In 1994 he became a senior vice president in D. E. Shaw & Co, an investment fund, at the age of 30. His career was already successful and lucrative, but he decided to “do this crazy thing” as he defines it in his 2001 interview – leave and start his own company. What made him leave his steady career and take such a leap of faith?
As Bezos explains, there were several things that helped him make the decision. The idea to start an e-commerce company came to him after learning that the Web usage was growing 2300% per year, which was almost unbelievable – no other field was growing this fast. Bezos saw a possibility to enter an industry with almost unlimited potential. Another important factor in his decision-making process was the desire to, as he calls it, “minimize a number of regrets” in his life: he did not want to miss on an opportunity and regret it many years later.
Bezos started the company in 1994, in his own garage, after writing the initial business plan on the road trip from New York to Seattle, where he moved with his family after quitting his job. Jeff stopped in San Francisco and interviewed vice presidents of engineering to get help from the best of the field and do his initial hiring. After developing the initial steps, Bezos accepted a large investment in the company from his parents and launched an online bookstore called Amazon.
As Bezos states, when the store was initially launched in 1995, he and his team were absolutely shocked at the customer response they received: in the first month they had orders from all 50 states and 45 different countries. So the company had to quickly adjust and turn into a 2,000 square feet warehouse. In the next several years the company grew and its product line expanded. By 2013, Amazon became the biggest online shopping retailer in the world.
Being fascinated with space, Bezos founded another startup – Blue Origin, that is often compared to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Both companies are working on making traveling to space more accessible and affordable. Currently Blue Origin is working on developing a moon lander, as well as other projects for commercial passengers to travel to space.
Outlook on life and leadership
Though Bezos was definitely fortunate in many aspects that include his education and upbringing, his outlook and business approach are impressive. In interviews, he often mentions his life philosophy:
“I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, ok, I’m looking back at my life and I want to minimize a number of regrets that I have. I was not going to regret having tried to participate in this thing called the Internet. And if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that. But one thing I might regret is not ever having tried. I knew it was going to haunt me every day.” – Jeff Bezos.
Bezos came up with “Get Big Fast” – Amazon’s motto that reflects the company’s zeal and rapid development. Though there is a lot of speculation about the company’s corporate culture, it still remains the leader on the e-commerce market.
The story of Amazon’s success and the personal achievements of Jeff Bezos is incredibly moving and motivating. If there is something we could all learn from him, is to trust our vision and instincts and remain as hardworking and goal-oriented as possible. Everyone can find a little bit of inspiration in Bezos’s success.
Who is the person that inspires you the most? Let us know in the comments below.Trade Amazon