Career Lessons from Amazon's CEO

Career & Internship

Career Lessons from Amazon's CEO launched in 1995 as a bookseller but soon began selling everything from CD's to clothing to jewelry. By 1997 Amazon was publically traded and on its way to becoming the world’s largest online retailer.

Much of the company’s success in innovation is attributable to the core philosophies of its Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. Bezos is a believer in long-term thinking, calculated risk-taking, and relentless optimism. These lessons should guide our career development too.

Long-term thinking. Many of Bezos’ decisions are made with a 10+ year perspective, instead of the typical “quarterly profit maximization bias” that many CEO’s use. The result is continual foundation building for the future that has enabled continued growth from Amazon. Similarly, each of us should set big goals for our future and then invest in the skills and experiences that can help us achieve our vision. I aim to be an international business leader in the future so I am learning Mandarin and Spanish.

Calculated risk-taking. Bezos has rocked the boat with numerous big bets. Wall Street analysts questioned his decisions to open the site to user feedback and 3rd party sellers, build logistics systems, expand into internet infrastructure, and to develop consumer electronics like the Kindle. It is now clear that each of these decisions has strengthened Amazon’s market position and profitability. Each of us will face big decisions like where to attend university or where to work. Careful thinking, compassionate mentors and deliberate steps can guide our path. After all, fate favors the bold – we must calculate the risks and take them.

Relentless optimism. Many Wall Street analysts predicted that Amazon would be swallowed by Barnes & Noble when it launched its website. Few believed Amazon could survive the “dot com crash” that bankrupted most early Internet companies. Bezos stayed upbeat and committed to his vision all the while. In the same way, each of us will face road blocks and obstacles in our path. Everyone faces setbacks. It’s what happens next – do we give up when we get deferred or do we refine our strategy and move forward? 6 years ago I received a deferral letter from UChicago but decided, like Bezos, to stay optimistic and press forward. In retrospect, that was one of my best decisions.

For a truly inspiriting and thought-provoking article, read this profile of Jeff Bezos:


Greg Nance

ChaseFuture CEO