LMSM 25 | Jeff Bezos

 

We continue to follow the meteoric rise of Jeff Bezos and his growing juggernaut of a company. This second part of our series starts with Barnes & Noble threatening to crush Bezos if he doesn’t sell out. Like most decisions Bezos makes throughout his career, he calmly rejects that offer and doubles down on his belief that Amazon can change the landscape of American business. From tech startup to the largest company in the world, we dive into the growing pains and changes Amazon needed to make with people and strategy to create a business that changed the world.

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“The Everything Store – Jeff Bezos And The Age Of Amazon” – Part 2

This is part two of The Everything Store, the story of Jeff Bezos founding Amazon. If you’ve not read part one, I would suggest you stop here and go back and start with part one. If you’re crazy, go ahead and keep reading. If you’re new, please subscribe. If you love our show, please share it with your friends.

It’s a totally different topic. Picture Amazon in the late ‘90s, Barnes & Noble is a monster. They’re as big as Home Depot at the time. They’re still a large company, but at the time, they were the company if you were in the book game. Barnes & Noble was founded and still run by the Riggio’s at the time. The Riggio’s invited Bezos out to dinner. The way this dinner went down, they were polite and Amazon wasn’t turning a profit. They were hinting around doing some kind of joint venture or an acquisition of Amazon, but in no uncertain terms, they said, “We’re launching a Barnes & Noble website, and we’re going to crush you. We’re just going to destroy you. You know we’re bigger. We have the brand and you don’t. We’re going to smoke you.”

Bezos took all this in stride. Amazon is losing money. They’re not making any money. They’re not the Dynamo they were. Barnes & Noble was the monster. Bezos smiled and said, “No thanks.” His quote is, “Disruptive small companies will triumph over big companies because they’re too stuck on their way.” He didn’t think Barnes & Noble could pivot and create a website because everything in their company was built around distribution and large retailers.

He was right. They did launch a website and they tried to price as low as they could, but they couldn’t make an internet company work within. It became its own silo, there was infighting over talent. They couldn’t make it work. Everything Bezos predicted, the big companies can’t compete with a smaller disruptive one, was 100% accurate. I look at that story and think, “The stones he had to turn down a big check from a powerful family, company, and brand takes some outrageous belief in yourself.”

I go back to calluses. He built the callus when he left New York. He built the callus when he left the cushy job. I built the callus when I left NVR. I was living in an 8,000 square foot house. I had everything I could possibly want, but I was perfectly miserable in my career. I walked away from it and I said, “No.” It’s the same reason I took chips off the table instead of, we make fun of me for driving a crappy car. I drove a crappy car followed by another crappy car for the better part of two decades because they were paid for. It didn’t cost anything. It’s little things like this.

I’ll say this and we can move on to the next one with the Barnes & Noble story. If you’re going to build anything of note, you need to have belief. I’ve talked about it multiple times. When you have someone in front of you like Barnes & Noble and they are offering you something, you used the term stones. You have to have incredible self-belief. You have to have a mission and a purpose that is so different than how most people are wired or you’re going to cash out early. It’s how it’s going to happen, but you’ve got to believe that. There are sacrifices that you need to make.

One of my friends who’s an investment banker was living low key to help buy this steel mill that got bought by US Steel, who’s the company that Carnegie founded and JP Morgan bought. It came out on the Wall Street Journal. They got bought for $900 million and then they got a second installment of just under $1 billion. They were bought for almost $2 billion by a blue-blooded American company. I watched this guy not eat out. He eats before he came and met us at bars because he was scrimping and living on so little so he could eventually get there. There’s the belief side of it and there’s the sacrifice you have to make to do it.

The other thing that is in this that I want to unpack fast, is disruptive small companies can triumph over big companies stuck in their ways. At the mastermind, what I see is usually people are good at generating leads one way. If you’re a good PPC lead generator, you’re usually not good with mail, and vice versa. You’re going to go extinct unless you master multiple skills. If you can’t get a lead to convert more than one way, someone else is going to figure that out. If you’re the Barnes & Noble in your market with your product and with what you do and just do one thing, someone else is going to figure out how to get your lead because you are stuck in your ways. You’re not innovating. You must. What I do is not nearly as complicated as what Amazon does, but this fundamental is 100% true. The biggest people in our space don’t innovate. They’re not creative. They don’t do it well. Little people like us can take their market share because of it.

Look at what Quicken has done in mortgage. I was right in the mortgage game. Quicken came out. They invested like crazy in technology. Everyone said, “You can’t do a mortgage fast. You can’t give a loan approval on the same day. You can’t do applications on an app. There are just too many disclosures.” They blew all of it apart. They did it and they destroyed everyone. You’re silly if you don’t look at Quicken. Their cost basis is so much lower than everyone else’s because of technology that they can give you a great rate. Yes, they will give you an approval faster than every other mortgage company. They probably will close on time. They still have issues like anyone else with talent and other things they go into. For the most part, Quicken made everything easier and faster on the front end. Most mortgage companies kept printing out packages and sitting down in front of people who didn’t want to do that.

There are multiple people in this book that are incredibly important to Amazon’s formation, that the company outgrows their skillset. It’s a little bit of Peter Principle. There’s a guy by the name of Shel Kaphan, who is an original partner with Amazon. He was in the garage with Jeff when they were working on doors that were put on for tables. He built out a lot of the technology infrastructure in the original website for Amazon.

Bezos, at different times, said he’s the most important person in the history of Amazon, there is no Amazon without him, but once Amazon got big enough, Jeff took away his authority. He slowly would convince him to take these advisory roles within the corporation. He had no direct reports, influence roles, dotted line roles, and it hurt Shel a lot. When he quit, Bezos didn’t try to keep him. Even though Jeff flew him out to Hawaii with the whole S-team and all of their wives. They had this big Shel retirement party. They were friends. Shel was hurt. He called it “one of the biggest disappointments of my entire life,” the way his career ended at Amazon.

Over and over in this book, every 3 to 5 years, Jeff is switching out his S-team because the company is outgrowing the talents of the people that report directly to Jeff. That’s how it works in a growing company. The bigger it gets, the more complex it gets, you have to find different talent that can evolve, that can take it to another level. The people that you start with, the people that are with you early aren’t necessarily the ones that can help you get to the next level.

No business can do the exact same thing repetitively without innovation and going extinct. Click To Tweet

It’s so funny because when I was a little kid, I used to watch athletes. I used to think Mike Tyson in the ‘90s can be Mike Tyson in the ‘80s. I was a fan. I was a little boy. I didn’t know. Mother Nature caught up to him and he couldn’t be that guy again. Michael Jordan on the Wizards was not Michael Jordan in his rookie season for the Bulls. He was a lot older. It happens in every facet of life. What you start to realize is that life is an unforgiving thing. In my business, I’ve been in business since 2009, several years later, our longest standing employee has been with us for a few years. We’re better now. I can pay more now. Our benefits are better. The talent we can attract is better. It’s not that those weren’t nice people, they didn’t have the skillset that I need now.

There’s an entire thing in here about Shel in this book about what he built. It was a web system that worked well for a small company that whenever they sold something a bell would go off. For the company that we all know now, it was antiquated. I wrote down Paul Seville’s name because he’s the CEO of NVR that Ian knows better than me, but we both know him well. He was this way of being ruthless. A better example is your first boss, Jack Welch, ruthless. GE was a 100-year-old business by the time you got there. They were ruthless. They were always getting rid of the bottom 10% or 20%.

Netflix has that same approach. Netflix has a test. They do it every year. Their HR department is in on it, but the CEO asks himself, “If I was interviewing this person today for this job’s challenges, would I hire them again?” If the answer is no, then they go. Netflix pays so high. They purposely pay above market to attract better talent all the time. What they believe is, by paying above market, it forces them to put the best person in the job.

You have to go because you’re making so much. If you can’t keep up and do what you’re supposed to, you got to go. I got to tell you, Frank, this is a big differentiator in companies that grow and don’t grow. It’s the ones with leaders that have the guts to say, “I love you. You’re not the right person for this job anymore. You got to go.” Are willing to come in and replace old friends that just aren’t the same as they used to be. If you want to grow, you have to be able to replace people that you like, but they just aren’t right for the job.

What’s important to differentiate here is we’ve talked a lot about innovation in this show. Amazon innovates. As an employee, you must also innovate, your skills must grow. If you become stagnant, you will get replaced because of the fact that the company is going to grow. No business can do the exact same thing repetitively without innovation, without going extinct. As a business owner, you have to understand that people who are working with me must evolve or they need to go. It comes from both sides.

I’ll relay this story then we can move on to something else. I have a sister and she’s incredible. She’s happy-go-lucky. My wife will tell me how incredible my sister is. You can say nothing else other than she’s incredible. What I tell her is, “I used to be happy-go-lucky like that, too.” My wife is like, “No.” I’m like, “No, in my twenties, I was similar to my sister, but the business world has hardened me.” It’s hardened me because I realized that it’s survival of the fittest. When I had to fire 25 people in one day in August of 2006, I realized, as shitty of a day that was for me, it’s a way worse day for those other people. If I didn’t do that, they’d be coming for me. That’s a reality. We live in a capitalistic society. That’s it. If you aren’t always looking forward, helping to grow, and innovating, you’re going to go the way of the dinosaur. It’s the same for me. I know that, as an innovator, someone’s going to replace me.

As Sally found out in The Godfather, there is no old times sake. You add value. Paul Seville, you brought him up, one of his favorite sayings and he didn’t say it in front of the masses, but he would say, “On the 15th of the month, we all get even every month.” What he meant is, there is no sentiment, there is no what about the last ten years? It is, are you the right person for the job now? I’m paying you to do a job, you’re doing it well, great, but we get even once a month because at NVR you’re only paid once a month, which is an NVR thing.

A funny story here, and we can touch this quickly. Bezos went to Harvard Business School in 1997. He presented his business to a bunch of kids who thought they were hotshots. One of the kids in the audience thought the entire class was unanimous that Amazon should get out. They’re going to get crushed in the wave of retailers coming online. One kid said, “Jeff, you seem like a nice guy, so don’t take this the wrong way, but you should sell to Barnes & Noble, and get out now.”

Bezos kept his cool. He’s listened to a bunch of punk, spoiled and titled Harvard kids. He said, “You might be right, but I think you’re underestimating the degree to which established brick and mortar businesses might be so used to doing things a certain way. They’ll find it hard to be nimble, and focus attention on a new channel.” That was 1997. He completely predicted the future. Big companies just did not handle switching over to the internet well at all.

The one thing I take away from here is, if I were in that audience in 1997, I would have been one of those entitled little shits saying, “You’re not going to make it.” Because when you’re a young kid, and you’re in college, you think you know everything. Until you put your own money into something, you don’t know anything. Everyone is brave. Everyone has an opinion when they’re a salaried employee. When you go put your own money into something, that’s when you earn some respect in the business world. Anyone who doesn’t own equity in something, all have a million ideas, go own it, and then tell me what your ideas are. Until you do, you’re just chirping.

The richest people in the world haven’t gone to B school. The richest people in the world have a bunch of kids that went to B school that works for them. I’ll say two things. One, we had all the exact same stuff underlined in the book. I thought this was as equally as incredible as you did. The other thing I’ll say is this, in 1997, the established business was Whole Foods. The non-established business was Amazon. Amazon bought Whole Foods. It should have gone the other way, but it didn’t.

Amazon innovated, changed, grew, and went where they were going. Back then, it was unbelievable, the profit margins. Most grocers work on a 2% or 3% profit line. Whole Foods was running a 30% profit line. They didn’t innovate. They sat there and let everybody catch up to them. Publix and Kroger all put a health food island that rivaled Whole Foods and sold things for less. People who are $1 conscious shopped there instead. That’s the reason why. It’s because the brick and mortar is the turtle and it got caught.

LMSM 25 | Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos: You’re going to go extinct unless you master multiple skills. If you can’t get a lead to convert more than one way, someone else will figure that out.

 

One thing that’s obvious through the story arc is Amazon tried all kinds of acquisitions. Most did terribly. Zappos is a famous one that did well. Whole Foods is another one that’s done well, but they were big when they bought it.

There’s a line in the sand. There was a period where they sucked at it and it was in the beginning. Later, they got better at it.

They got better, but there are also hundreds lately that they’ve not updated. They have so much money that they just throw it at all kinds of stuff. If you look at where their growth has come from, focus is everything for the Amazon story. They were relentlessly focused on being the everything store of you can buy whatever you want, and we’re going to ship it to you fast. They lost hundreds of millions of dollars on companies like Pets.com, Gear.com, WindStopper.com, Greenlight, HomeGrocer.com. They are paying tens of millions of dollars for these. The bubble burst and Bezos was like, “Bad moves, let’s move on and get back focused on our core business.” Most companies that are truly great, have a narrow focus, and they just execute the crap out of it. They don’t get themselves spread out with too many ideas.

I took this in a different direction than you. Although I agree with everything you say, I’ll say this, there were two companies that they took over and they took over well. What they did is they bought out Diapers.com. It was a bunch of different names, but ultimately is Diapers.com, and they bought out Zappos. In both instances, what Amazon did, is they were so freaking big they couldn’t be screwed with. They got leverage over both companies because they had such market share, they worked at a loss to get both of these companies to succumb. They acquiesce but they more or less succumb. They’re like, “You’re right. You bullied us. We’ll do the merger now.” They got way less than they probably could have if Amazon wasn’t so all-knowing. They became better at acquisitions when they became the Death Star.

When they had data.

I used the term Death Star on purpose because it’s a Star Wars reference, which is good for SEO. More than that, it’s what it was. They had all the data. They had the market share. They had all these other things and they could bleed you dry because they could.

You go buy a ring for $1 billion. They’re already proven. They already got the sales. They got distribution channels set up. You’re taking less risk when you have the kind of money to throw around. When Google buys Nest for $3 billion, they can see that they’ve sold over 1 million units in the past year. They have the numbers. They have the margins. With Pets.com, they were taking bets. It was a little riskier. It was like parlays versus just taking the safe bet on a football game.

There’s a couple of sides to this. I’ll tell a funny story. When Ian and I were first becoming friends, one of the things that we will do is we will geek out over annual reports. We always read the Warren Buffett letter to shareholders because it’s a great letter. For years, we read the Apple report. I would flip through the Amazon report, but we would always read the Google report. In the Google annual report, Ian used this term and I loved it. Do you remember what used to call Google?

Dominique Wilkins, the human highlight film.

The reason was they had so much freaking money. They were all on offense. There was no defense. For those of you that don’t know, he could dunk from the foul line, but he could do it in a way that Jordan couldn’t. He did all this beautiful stuff. How many titles did Dominique Wilkins win?

He didn’t win any and he wasn’t the best defensively.

That’s right. How many Jordan win? Six because Jordan was a defensive wizard. He worked just as hard on offense as he did on defense. The reason Ian called them this, and I loved it, is Google was printing money because of PPC. Because of what they had going on with their ad spend, they could. Amazon got to a point where they could take bigger risks. If they lost $1 billion, $2 billion or $3 billion, it didn’t matter. That matters to us mere mortals. For a big company like that, have you ever seen a fine that these companies get? They’re $3 billion. It’s just a write-off. It becomes a tax deduction. It changes when you get to such a huge scale that you get to be an offensive company.

Until you put your own money into something, you really don't know anything. Click To Tweet

Let’s pivot to Bezos and what kind of a manager he was. A couple of funny stories that I liked. He had an outrageous temper. Bezos could fly off the handle. He was a yeller, a little bit like Jobs in that. He had a fulfillment manager that he had asked in a meeting. He was already frustrated with customer service, “How long people were waiting?” This fulfillment manager bullshits him, which you never do to a CEO. I’ve learned that lesson myself many times. He said, “It’s well under a minute.”

Right in front of the whole S-team, there are twenty people in this room, the conference table. Bezos calls the Amazon 800 number, puts it on speaker, pulls his watch out, and clicks it to make a big show of the fact that he’s timing it. Everyone in the room is squirming. Everyone’s freaking out. The fulfillment manager after a couple of minutes starts making furious phone calls to find out why no one’s picking up. It took 4.5 minutes. Someone answers, and Bezos says, “Just checking in,” and hangs up. The book says his face grew red, the vein balls in his forehead, and the hurricane warning system was off.

He went off on this guy. He called him a freaking idiot. You’re a moron. You’re incompetent. You’re dishonest and the guy was out a few months later. For me, the takeaway here is, if you don’t have the numbers, don’t bullshit. Don’t ever do that to an executive. My quick story, I was in a review with Paul Seville. It was one of the best quarters my team had ever had. I couldn’t wait to talk to him about all of my good numbers, all of my arrows were green except for a couple. Like a typical CEO, instead of seeing all the green arrows up, he found the one that was down. He found the one that was red. It was our sale to application times. I was pissed.

I was pissed that he found the one wart on my beautiful report. I had worked so hard to show all these good numbers. I wanted to brag. He was like, “Why is your application rate down versus everyone else?” We’ve had some tough times with realtors. I made something up, some sorry-ass loan officer had said to me weeks ago, and I parroted it. He was like, “Really?” He goes down the list. He looks at every regional in the room who had a better application percent than me and he goes, “Glenn, you got realtors up in Pittsburgh?” “Yes, Paul, we got realtors in Pittsburgh.” “What’s the realtor percentage up there?” He’s asking his analyst, Jeff pulls it out, he goes, “It’s about the same as DC.”

He goes, “It looks like you’re about 10% higher than he.” Dave, in Cleveland, “You don’t have realtors, you don’t have that problem that Ian’s got.” He makes this painful way around the whole table to where all of the numbers say that my realtors are no higher than anyone else’s. He comes around to me and he goes, “Let’s talk about your realtor problem, Ian.” By now, I’m grinning because I’m just pissed. I’m mad. I’m like, “Clearly, we have an execution issue. The next time we meet, I’m not going to have an application problem.” He smiled at me and he goes, “You could have saved everyone a lot of time if you led with that.” I nodded my head. I was like, “I get it.” You don’t bullshit a CEO.

You ultimately quit that job?

Yeah, eleven years later.

Fair enough.

I worked for him a long time, and I loved him.

I’ll tell another Paul Seville story that’s funny. I don’t think you’re worth a damn as an owner if you don’t roll your sleeves up and get in there from time to time. You have to. One of the things that Seville did is he drove the models. In Ryan Homes Parklands, what that means is he got in his car and he’d drive around and go through model homes.

It’s get out on the field.

He lived in the DC metro market. He didn’t hear about stories. I’m doing this in Charlotte. He would do it in the DC metro market. Usually, he’d do it on a Saturday.

LMSM 25 | Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos: If you’re going to build anything of note, you need to have belief.

 

Virginia, Maryland.

It turns out that he went to all the models with the most beautiful sales reps. I don’t know what motivations were but he would get out there and he would go visit the models. This is what happened. Seville was out driving models. We got to make sure we’re incredible just in case he shows up. That would last for 6 or 8 weeks. There’s a halo effect that goes into that. In my business, I’m always doing little things to check so you know that I know what’s happening.

I’m paying attention.

Yes, because it has ripples. When you show up and look at something, you find something that’s wrong, and you bring it to light, if your company is managed right and if the right people are in the right seats, they’re going to look at that and they’re going to get a little bit embarrassed. They’re going to get a little bit nervous. They’re going to say that isn’t happening to me again. The next time he went through your report and found something on there. Was it that issue or was it a different issue?

It wasn’t that issue. That was cleaned up.

You fixed that issue because that is the one that he brought to light and that’s what happens. Good managers do that. There’s a way to do it to be a complete asshole and embarrass people. There’s also a way to do it that is a little bit more sustainable. As a manager, sometimes you got to do a little bit of both. Sometimes, there’s got to be a little bit of fear from the owner down. Because this is a company that is sacred that if you don’t treat it as such, it will go extinct.

For the record, I felt the way Paul handled it was perfect. I thought it was great management. He was doing it with someone who could handle it. Everything about it was right. I’m a highly paid senior executive making a bullshit excuse off the top of my head and he smelled it. He didn’t raise his voice. He made a good point to me. That is good management. When someone tries to bullshit their way through something, you make sure the whole table knows I smell it, you’re full of shit and you need to be better than that if I’m paying you this much.

I agree with everything that you’re saying. The way Bezos did it by going apoplectic is not the way to do it. You and I have a similar management style that we would do this. I do little things like this in my business. We had a call center that was terrible. We did the exact same thing. We did an exercise. We called them and we ultimately hung up on them, but we were on hold. We got moved a bunch of times. It’s like, “This sucks. We have to fix this.” It was handled more of the Paul way more than the Bezos way.

Get in the weeds a little. I did that on a regular basis. If a salesperson was telling me they’re not picking their phone up. I used to love this one. I would just be like, “What’s the number?” I would dial it, put it on speaker, two rings, the customer picks up. “How’s it going? This is Ian Mathews. I’m a manager. Has anyone reached out to you in a while? I just wanted to check in.” “No,” and watch the person squirm with a red face right in front of you. You get off the phone and you’re like, “Don’t bullshit me, just stop. I don’t have the patience for it. Can we just be adults and tell each other the truth that you hadn’t made a phone call next time?” That gets around the office.

I’ll tell you the opposite side of this story. Groener was giving me a hard time. I’m like, “Beth, I’m calling. I’m telling you, I’m calling. I called from my cell phone. I called from the model. She picked up her phone. The person picked up right there. I swear to God, I’ve been calling.”

Another funny one, a random one speaking of crazy managers, a lot of times with these guys, what makes them genius would also make them crazy to have to work for. Bezos recruited a talented Apple executive away. Steve Jobs met with this Apple executive for his exit interview and said, “Why do you want to go to a boring retailer when Apple’s in the process of changing the world reinventing computing?” In the conversation, it starts with him trying to keep him and it ends with suggesting that this career move reveals how stupid this executive is and that “Maybe it’s a good thing that you’re leaving Apple anyway because you’re not smart enough to be here with us.” I found that story hilarious because Steve Jobs, it’s good to be king.

There’s no doubt it’s good to be king. It’s one of those things that the kingmaker rarely ever has any humility and can see past the end of their nose. Amazon ended up being every bit as big as Apple. I don’t know market cap wise, but it’s pretty darn close. Apple is actually bigger still. I drew similar parallels to this with Sam Walton from Walmart. He was caught flat by Amazon because he had that same thinking, “They’re just an online retailer. They’re not going to be able to do what we do.” They didn’t innovate. They got arrogant. Because they got arrogant and didn’t innovate, these smaller companies won and became huge monsters that were real problems for them going forward.

A king rarely ever has any humility and sees past the end of their nose. Click To Tweet

Warren Buffett called the story of Amazon a miracle. It’s something going from zero to the biggest company in the world. It’s easy from outside to want to emulate that, but within the company, one executive who worked for Jeff a long time, her direct quote was, “If you’re not good, Jeff will chew you up and spit you out. If you are good, he will jump on your back and ride you into the ground.” That’s what it’s like working for a CEO in a fast-growing innovative company. They’re not producing those outrageous, first of their kind, innovative results by being nice guys, the spiritual leader. They’re usually going to be tough and hard.

Bezos’ people called his rants, nutters. “He’s on another nutter.” These are just some of the quotes in the book that I had written down. They call them Jeffisms that he would ask people in front of crowds, “Did you take your stupid pills today?” “Should I go get my certificate that says I’m CEO so you’ll quit challenging me?” “Why are you taking credit for something you had nothing to do with?” “Are you lazy or just incompetent?” “Why are you ruining my life?” “This document was clearly written by the B team.” These are a few things that they had listed.

Bezos is a prick to you all the time. This is his management style. I am quite sure, in the next twenty years, he’s going to work hard to rewrite his story so that people think he was a soft and loving leader. Jobs tried to do this, too. I see quotes all the time attributed to Steve Jobs that you just know he didn’t actually say, because, let’s be real, Steve Jobs was an insane manager. No one would work for Steve Jobs if you weren’t paid a lot of money. I don’t know if you have a take on this. In some of these outrageously good companies, there’s some insanity at the top to get them to bend reality.

There’s something about Jobs about the distortion field. It’s like the reality distortion field or something like that. He would set these ridiculous deadlines and people are like, “We can’t hit it.” They typically didn’t hit them, but they were pretty darn close. You articulated in a way that was better than I would articulate it. When you’re making seismic changes to the world, people are more willing to put up with a rational treatment and behavior.

What I take from this is, we’re not changing the world. We’re building houses, flipping houses. I treat people differently. I still demand and command a lot of respect. I demand a high level of commitment and performance. It’s different than a lot of what these people can do in the tech world because of the fact that it’s a different mindset. You got to know where you are in the world. The other thing that I’ll bring up, it’s not in our notes, but it’s something that you said.

When I was a younger person, I thought that these magnanimous people with statues weren’t binary. They were just one thing. They’re great leaders. They’re great this, but you realize over time, everyone is a human being who’s done anything. They’re multifaceted. Even if the narrative is Carnegie Hall, all these things Carnegie did, in order to afford it, they were ruthless. There are multiple sides to everyone. History often gets whitewashed with a ton of money and time. You and I went through a presidential cycle. We talked about the best thing presidents can do is just go shut up and stay off the radar, 6 to 12 years later, they’re looked at as these incredible leaders.

They all leave with an approval rating of 40. If they will just shut up for five years, it ends up at 70 or 80. Which is a high approval rating right now because what does he do? He’s quiet, he doesn’t get into politics. He goes to VA hospitals and he’s a good guy. When he left, his approval rating could not have been lower. Now, it’s like 60, 70, it’s high.

I’ll balance this out this way. There are multiple ways you can do this, you can do this the Paul Seville way which Ian brought up, where you look at a little detail and you hold someone accountable. You make them know that you are absolutely in the business, understand the business, and you won’t take crap. If you’re losing track of your staff or people aren’t giving the level of commitment that you want, sometimes flying off the handle is okay. It just shows people you’re committed, you’re passionate, and you won’t stand for it. What I’ve learned is that it isn’t sustainable. We talked about the asshole. I don’t think as a boss, I can do that all the time because it doesn’t fit me.

You can’t play that hand too often.

Every once in a while, you can. In the world of tech and startup, Bezos, Jobs, and Musk, you get away with a little bit more. Compensation has a lot to do with it. Where they’re going has a lot to do with it too.

The two-pizza team, this is one of the legends of Amazon. I’ve found myself quoting it. I hear managers all over companies quoting the two-pizza teams. This meeting, we couldn’t feed all these people with two pizzas, you know Amazon doesn’t. What’s fascinating is, it’s a myth. Bezos read a book. He got all excited. This is all over the book where he does this. He came in and he said, “We’re going to reorganize to where our teams are all going to be teams of two pizza teams.” He tried to make the whole company into teams that could be fed with two pizzas so no more than 6 to 10 people.

Or two Ians and Franks.

LMSM 25 | Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos: As an employee, you must also innovate your skills must grow. If you become stagnant, you will get replaced.

 

I was going to say Frank and I are a two-pizza team. We don’t have a third person.

We are Amazon-inspired.

We don’t have pizza left for a third co-host. Frank and I are large eats. That’s what we go with for lunch. If you’ve quoted this, if you’ve said this is how they do it in Amazon, if you found yourself saying this in a meeting, you’re full of shit because they tried it for a few months and it largely failed. One executive said, “Being a two-pizza team, it wasn’t liberating. It was a real pain in the ass and the vast majority of people flip the bit on it.” I find this funny because a lot of these legends come out of companies, where it’s like, “That’s a revolutionary idea. Small teams, everyone can eat two pizzas. No meetings unless you can feed with two pizzas.” That’s bullcrap. Most of Bezos’ meetings that he went to were packed with lots of people. They didn’t do two-pizza teams. Bezos almost never did one on ones. He didn’t like one on ones. He thought they were a waste of time.

I thought this was dumb. It’s hard for anyone to take me credibly that thinks anything that Amazon does is dumb, but I thought the two-pizza thing was dumb. What I took from this agenda item is I want to list other things that I thought were dumb. The two that I came up with are these. They use doors as tables. That’s not smart, prudent or cost-effective. It’s just stupid. It is hard to write on a table.

Why did they do doors?

Supposedly it was saving money, but they got to a point where they didn’t need to do that anymore.

It was saving money in the beginning. They couldn’t afford a conference table when they started in Jeff’s garage so they took a door and they put it on a couple of easels and that was their table. It’s kitschy, “Our humble beginnings,” but you’re right. Come on, you’re a trillion-dollar company.

It’s idiotic to try and write on a door. The other thing was, the guy ultimately got fired. He came in from the outside. He didn’t understand the culture. These are two separate things at the same time. He said in front of Bezos that executives should be able to fly business class. Bezos flipped out and said, “That’s not how an owner thinks.” Ultimately, this guy was pushed out. This is the same guy that screwed up the telephones.

I’m 6’2, on a light day, I’m in the 220s. Normally, I live in the 230s or even more. I cannot open my laptop and coach. I can’t work and coach. I can’t get the damn thing done and coach. I don’t fly coach. I don’t fly private, but I almost always fly first class. The reason is this, the difference between a coach fare and a first-class fare is usually $250 to $300. Most flights, between sitting on the tarmac, being in the air and taxing are 2 to 3 hours. Most of my company does not fly. The person who flies the most is typically me. When I can afford it, I immediately started paying for first class. The reason for it is I could actually work. I could open up my laptop, I could actually be productive. It usually came out to about $100 an hour.

It’s incredibly prudent to think about some of these rules and things and be like, “Does this make sense or are we just being stubborn to be stubborn? Are we just doing something for nostalgia’s sake? Are we just going out and buying doors and making those into desks when Office Depot has plenty of great desks that basically cost the same amount?” Those are the little things you have to look at. I understand that nostalgia. I understand the two-pizza team. It usually doesn’t work.

The two-pizza team, he did it for a while. They didn’t keep doing it. It blew up. It was like one year of Amazon, but people quote it like it’s still done now. It was an idea that was not good. Another legend of Bezos and this one isn’t so much a legend, Bezos does make this happen. The concept of the pre-meeting essay. Bezos hates PowerPoints, which is cool, a lot of companies don’t like PowerPoints. Bezos likes to read a long narrative before he goes into any meeting. He likes to read. If you call a meeting and he’s there, you have to write a narrative about what the meeting is about. There’s a format. Some people write 10, 12 pages, some write 3 or 4.

He wants that meeting agenda to be written like a story narrative. He wants it to be in the shape of a mock press release as if a customer might see it and work backward. Where I see the fallacy in this is, people learn in two ways. They’re either readers or listeners. People like to communicate more by either talking, the expressives, or they like to write. Bezos is a reader and he likes that. He forces his meetings that way because it helps him prepare for the meeting. What Jeff did is he went and he forced this on the whole company. If I’m another executive and I’m not a reader, and I like to talk things through and I like to see things in different ways, that might not be the best way. It’s an example of what works for me, I’m going to force on my whole team. I largely look at this as just bad management. It works for Jeff because he’s the king and he can force it, but people within the company don’t like it.

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If you think about engineers, one engineer said, “Think about an engineer doing this. A lot of times, putting everything into a narrative is like describing a spreadsheet. Why are we using all these words when a spreadsheet with one sheet would explain what I’m trying to talk about?” Most people felt like the system was rigged towards good writers. Take Frank and I, Frank is an expressive person. He’s great. He talks with his hands. He needs to talk things out. That’s the way you communicate. You’re not a writer.

I can do a little bit of both, but I prefer to write as well. If you and I were to executives in this company, I would have a huge advantage over you. You would end up figuring out how to write the narrative, but what wouldn’t be fair to you is it would take you 3, 4 times as long to do it as it would me. You could communicate just as good with some preparation and some thought without having to do that process.

When I read this, I thought, “I’m never going to work in Amazon. That’s not how I’m wired.” I would have understood early, this is not a place I can distinguish myself. The skillsets that they’re going to call for me are going to be skills that I don’t easily call for myself and this is going to be arduous and challenging. I wouldn’t have done it because I don’t think I can distinguish myself. That happened to me coming out of college when I picked where to go to work. I saw companies that allowed me to flourish with strengths and places that would have called my weaknesses out and I didn’t need to go there so I didn’t.

I agree with everything you just said. What I would pivot to is this, the way to do this properly as a manager, it’s something rich coming from me with 30 employees versus the guy with 300,000 employees. What I see is empowering your leadership team to lead the way it makes sense to lead. Allow them to get out of their staffs what they should do well at. I have a diverse business. My accounting department functions and communicates in a way different than my rental management department. My sales department functions differently. My construction department functions differently. I don’t manage all of them the same.

People who are drawn to and do well in these different positions have different skillsets. Construction people, by and large, are not incredible writers. They just aren’t. Glass & Marker used to always talk about that. They have verbals low. That’s how it is in people who get into construction. It doesn’t mean they’re not analytical, it doesn’t mean they don’t whip around on a spreadsheet, or can’t anticipate a problem and get ahead of it. It’s just they’re not expressive that way.

What you have to look at is, there’s probably some good in this, but Bezos was reliant upon homecourt advantage. His homecourt advantage was set up so he could always be ahead, but they might have gotten further faster if someone had led in a way that allowed other people to flourish beside him. I will say this, it covers it in this book to some degree, but the internet and new stories cover it well. This applies to Zuckerberg a lot.

These smart people started as kids, they started off as people who did not know how to lead or manage, but they learned how to lead or manage. Some of these things, Jeffisms, the two-pizza teams, were ideas that were pushed aside because better managers showed up and said, “This doesn’t work for this reason.” The essay needs to be scrapped because you’re preventing an engineer from expressing how important something is. We don’t need him to write an essay. We need him to design this.

It’s like Google marketing themselves that we don’t have hierarchy here. No one reports to anyone. You talk to anyone who works at Google and they’ll be like, “That’s such bullshit, just because there’s no org chart, we all have bosses. We all have people to report to.” It was cute when Sergey Brin started it and they’re like, “No managers. We’re millennials running this shit.” That’s not exactly how the company runs when you talk to people in it.

I feel as if we’ve gone way too far without a pop culture reference. I’m going to use one here. I love Quentin Tarantino movies. The first one I ever saw was Pulp Fiction, but I’ve seen them all now. He did Inglourious Basterds and Brad Pitt is playing a role. He’s working up against someone else and he’s like, “This guy doesn’t say very much. He’s not very talkative. He’s not exactly the loquacious type.” Brad Pitt looks at him and goes, “That’s what this job calls for huh? The loquacious type.”

Brad Pitt makes it through the movie in World War II and doesn’t get killed. The guy who was asking for the loquacious type was not happy with this other guy and the way he communicated, gets killed. To me that’s the perfect example here. Know what the job needs and have that. They were out killing people because it was war. He didn’t need someone who was talkative. He needed someone who was good at killing people. That was the whole part of that scene, which I love.

That’s hilarious. I’m curious about your take on this. Bezos, at some point, once they became Amazon and became big, he promoted someone into a chief of staff role. Within the company, they called it the official shadow, Bezos’ shadow. The shadow’s job was just to follow Jeff around. Everywhere Jeff went, the shadow went. They weren’t a personal assistant. It was someone who had actual authority in the company and someone that Jeff was grooming to put onto the S team to figure something out. Especially for a larger company, I thought this was a fascinating role. When you get high up in a company, it can be lonely. There’s no one to turn to. You got all these thoughts and you can’t complain down all the time. I could see that being a cool role as a company grows for an owner to have a chief of staff. Someone that helps them stay organized, stay focused on big initiatives, big picture, and know everything that the owner and CEO are involved in.

I like the position. Do you remember what happened? Does he still have this role or position now?

He still has it. He’s had multiple shadows after him. It’s a 1 to 2 year stint that you play in there.

LMSM 25 | Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos: Sometimes, there needs to be a little bit of fear from the owner down. If a company is not treated as if it’s sacred, it will go extinct.

 

My business isn’t so lucrative that can afford a shadow. The way that I look at it is this, I love doing parts of my business with others in the room. I don’t like doing email alone. I don’t like to type and go through and do that. I like to talk about it and to collaborate while we’re doing it. I whittle everything down, or I have an assistant who whittles everything down and then I have bullet points that I go over with people. For me, I am capable of replying to an email alone, but I don’t do it that way because like Carla will send me 10, 15 emails in the course of the week, I pull out five bullet points and we’ll go over 3 or 4 emails together on a Zoom call, or in a conference room.

The reason for that is it turns into conversation points about why she sent me this. What’s going on? What’s the reason behind the reason? We’re still small enough where I don’t have a shadow, but I’ve got 5 or 6 people who I like to work within a very similar capacity to this. Angelo and I for a couple of years, we’d get together on the weekends, sit down, go through items and work on them. I love the fact that they’ve been able to do this with some level of success. I would love to have someone in my business that could do this, but it’s not a position that I have seen that I can replicate one off. I do feel like it’s something that we do departmentally and piece by piece.

For me, the highest-level position I’ve been in where I had regional managers reporting to me, I had 2 or 3 that I leaned on more than most, that I would just call about everything. I probably was in that role, if you think about it, in my last role, because the job I was doing and my boss’s job were the same. We were both responsible for everything. The two of us talked about everything, went to a lot of the same meetings, and did a lot of the same things together. I found it interesting. When you have a high-level position, it helps very much to have some insiders very close to you that know all of your thoughts. Both the positive, the exciting ones, but also the, “I’m worried about these things.”

It’s hard to have one person who understands everything that a business owner can understand and do. Think about that. If this person starts off and moves their way up, and goes up the ladder, has been in 6 or 8 positions, and then becomes your number two, or your shadow, that’s going to have a lot more value than having someone from the outside who checks emails or does things. This is not an easy thing to understand. I’ve had someone ask me, “Do you have ADD?” I’m like, “No, I don’t have ADD. I just got eight different businesses. My phone’s constantly going off on me. I’ve been interrupted six times during this show and everybody knows not to come in because clearly the world’s burning down around me.” That’s how it goes.

I’ll use an example that is neat. I don’t know if you know him, but his name is Ed Dean. He is a mortgage broker in Northern Virginia and he’s been at it for a long time. Decades ago, when I was building my first house, I sat across from Ed Dean and talked to him. Ultimately, he did a few loans for me. What I found very fascinating about Ed Dean was, he was a loan officer but he produced at the level of someone who is a regional even though he was a loan officer. His processors were all compensated like loan officers. I’m using the late ‘90s, early 2000s and he had people around him who are processors that are making $150,000, which was a fortune. What he was doing is although he was simply a loan officer generating loans, he had 4 or 5 people under him who were supposedly processors but were really loan officers.

What I learned from Ed Dean was this, if you pay for incredible talent, doesn’t matter what title they’re in, if they can handle their business, you can do more business. What I’ve learned is I don’t have a shadow. I’ve got 5 or 6 people in my business who run their business. I can call them up, talk to them, bend their ear. If it’s personal stuff or field stuff, I have 5 or 6 people I rely on in my business because I have 5 or 6 different silos of business and it requires that. That to me is the lesson that I learned. Put smart and articulate people in these roles that you can trust and then talk to them.

From being close enough to you to know your business, you don’t have a true number two, you have 4 or 5 number twos and they’re all responsible. You lean on them all equally. They’re not any more important or less. I felt the same way in senior-level executive roles. I always have 4 or 5 people that were my go-tos for certain things. I found myself talking to them 80% of the time. They knew how I thought, what I was thinking, I was very comfortable with them, I can be very direct and blunt with them, and they can be direct and blunt with me. That made me more effective in having those kinds of people.

There’s another side of this, Ian that’s important to talk about. If you only have one number two, you only have one other opinion. By me having the multiple silos that I talked about, they all have different pressures, different metrics and slightly different businesses.

Different backgrounds, different thought processes on risk, and what type of risk to take, it’s helpful. It’s a diversity of thought that you’re using as your counsel.

It’s the exact opposite of, “Show up with an essay that I can read.”

Yes.

Instead of having an essay that everyone has to write so I get to read it and manage it one way, I’ve got a diverse set of inputs that allow me to see things in different ways because of the people in the jobs doing great work, and being smart and educated about what it is that they do.

In order to create a miracle, there must be an insane sacrifice. Click To Tweet

I’m going to jump down in the agenda to Ted Jorgensen. I know you didn’t underline anything, but Ted Jorgensen is Jeff Bezos’ biological father. The author of this book found Bezos’ biological father working in a bike shop. He’d already interviewed Bezos multiple times. He’s been working with the Amazon group forever and this guy almost never got brought up right. This was the unicycler who left at a very young age and was never in Jeff’s life from the time Jeff was five. He didn’t remember his dad.

He is slightly different in Kruger Way. He was basically a sperm donor. Everything that happened in Bezos’ life goes back to his mom and his stepdad.

The author goes and find this guy in his tiny little bike shop, and says, “What do you think about your son’s great success? I’m writing a book on him and his amazing companies. He’s a billionaire.” The guy says, “Who?” He said, “Jeff Bezos.” He had changed his name, so Jorgensen didn’t know it was Bezos. He’d already forgotten his name. The quote is, “He was utterly confused and denied being the father of the most famous CEO and one of the wealthiest men in the world.” He pulled out a picture and said, “This is what he looks like today.” Jorgensen recognized him because he was his father for five years at least he was around. He said, “He’s still alive.” He got moved. He was emotional about it.

We talked earlier about regrets and the regret minimization framework. When I read this page of the book, I found it so incredibly sad. I don’t have Jeff Bezos’ aspirations. I don’t care to run a company as big as Amazon. I don’t want to be worth $200 billion. I don’t know what I would do with all of that, but when I heard about this, and I thought about it, for me, there’s nothing I ever wanted to be more than being a dad. There’s nothing I ever wanted more than that. My ambition has always been that. I’ve been pretty good at business and I do it because I want to make a lot of money so I can be a dad more. The last few years for me as busy as I keep everything I do in business. You know this Frank because it’s hard to get me after 3:30 on a weekday. Everything is secondary to being a dad.

At 6:15 AM, I’m at Diamond Heroes with my son. For 1.5 hours, we were playing baseball before school. If you think that’s crazy that my ten-year-old gets up at 6:15 sometimes because that’s the only time we can do it. He loves it and I love it. We got the whole facility to ourselves. I hit him with some grounders. We play catch. We hit baseballs. If there was anything I would regret in life, it would be that I kept pushing my way up the chain and didn’t have that time. I didn’t have that time to coach, to be around and to goof with my kids all the time.

This page wrapped everything up to me is, you can have all the ambition in the world and when you go to that deathbed conversation of something you would regret, what are those flashbulb moments? All the stuff we talked about in this show the meetings I’ve had with CEOs or raising money, all that shit, I don’t think I’m going to care about any of that on my deathbed. I’m going to remember coaching baseball. That’s all I’m going to remember. The moments with my kids. That’s all my dad and mom talk about. Me when I was a kid, and how much fun we had. The trips we went on, and me playing hockey. That’s all you remember as you get older. It’s family.

I’m going to take this in two separate directions. The thing about my business that I’m the proudest of is the people and the impact we have on the community. One of the initiatives we put in place in 2021 Is planting 300 trees in neighborhoods that have trees taken out of them. It makes a difference. There’s an article in The New York Times that came out in 2020 and it talked about how the poor neighborhoods have no trees, and people die in the summers. They don’t have air conditioning and these people literally heatstroke, and they die.

It was a very racist city and was redlined 100 years ago and this is real. One of the things that we’re going to do as a company is, we’re going to plant trees. Another thing we’re going to do as a company is, we’re going to do 1,000 hours of community service. Our 401(k) is unofficially tied to it. We have a little measuring stick in our front foyer. We’re going to do 1,000 hours of community service as a company. That’s one of our missions for 2021.

I love that. That’s cool.

Why do I bring those two things up? It’s not an ego trip. It’s because those are the things that matter the most. It’s the people. It’s what you do. We all make a lot of money. We all are in America. We all have great lives. If you go to a third-world country, the things we take for granted and we don’t need to go down that rabbit hole. What I can tell you is this, the things that I’m most proud of are the people, what we do, how we do it and the impact. That’s what I’m the most excited about. I’m excited about providing affordable housing. I hope my personal life trumps my business life in my flashback memories right before I die. I’m working hard every single day. I’m a new dad. On the business side, I’m thrilled with what we do on the business side.

The other thing I want to talk about is Steve Jobs’ biography. If you read it, Steve Jobs had a sister. He had a biological sister. The sister had found their dad. They were adopted by different people, Steve Jobs and his biological sister, they had different names. Steve Jobs asked his sister, “Don’t tell him who I am. You can do whatever you want. I don’t need him to know who I am.” It just so happened that Steve Jobs’ biological dad was still in Silicon Valley. He owned the restaurant. An ethnic restaurant that Steve Jobs would go to.

Steve Jobs’ biological father would brag to people that Steve Jobs ate in his restaurant. He had all of his pride wrapped around the fact that his food was eaten by the great Steve Jobs, missing the fact that this was actually his son. What I want to talk about are these two things. For people who achieve at this level, almost all of them have had tragedy or some hole they needed to fill. I’m curious about what the driver is. The book doesn’t go into it with Bezos, was there something missing, or what was it? With Steve Jobs’ case, there was always something he was chasing.

The other side of it is this. There’re 100 country songs written about this. Brad Paisley wrote a song. The name of the song is He Didn’t Have to Be, and it’s all about a stepdad and how that stepdad impact impacted this little kid. He goes, “I hope I’m half the man that he didn’t have to be.” Meaning that when he’s a father, which he is, could he be half as good as this man who didn’t have to be his dad? What I look at with Bezos is, he hit the freaking lottery. He ended up with this dad that raised him like he was his own. It’s so sad that his real dad didn’t know who he was, but think of that incredible man that became a stepdad, adopted him, treated them like his own, back him, and supported him. You can’t control the other guy who essentially was the sperm donor, but for Bezos’ namesake dad, wow.

LMSM 25 | Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos: If you pay for incredible talent, it doesn’t matter what title they’re in. If they can handle their business, you can do more business.

 

What Bezos did when he created that company, that’s nearly impossible. It’s the first ever and who knows if it’ll happen again. For his dad, who was never around, it’s hard being a good dad. It’s hard. You got to put in a bunch of work, but it’s not that hard. Billions of people do it. I’ve talked to you about this all the time, Frank. Being a mom and dad, billions of people on the planet figure it out every day. Being a great one, being really memorable, being there all the time, being present when you’re around them. That’s difficult to give and that’s how you’ll be remembered.

For me, I’m very blessed that I’m in a place in my life where my kids are in that sweet spot where they want to be around me all the time and I got the time to do it. I’m very focused, you and I talked about it a lot, of building businesses that let me keep putting them number one right now because that’s where I’m at right now in this world. I coach you on this all the time. Build a business to let you coach Tee-ball. Don’t build one that you’re going to be able to say, “I got to pass on coaching Tee-ball,” because you will regret it if you don’t coach your kid in sports. You’ll regret not being around for it.

For my son, I had to go away for business and my wife was asking me, “What are our weekend plans?” I’m like, “I’m taking Mack Saturday morning.” She’s like, “You are?” I’m like, “I didn’t see him for a few days.” He had a traumatic event. He fell and he lost a tooth, and I want to be with him. I want to spend time with them. This isn’t Ian and me preaching to you out there about how you should be a parent and be a dad, but what we talk about a lot is the enjoyment of our families, it’s big to both of us. It’s something that is at the core of who we are.

Ian’s biggest regret that he still talks about sixteen years later is not being with his parents on weekends and having the meals at the house. This is a fabric of who we are. What I would say in this and how I live is, I tell my son something every night when I tuck him in, and I tell him, “Son, these are the good old days.” I give him a kiss and I put him in his bed. I pat him and I ask him for a high five and he says, “Bye dada,” and I walk out of the room.

What’s cool is, Nickle told me a story about what he told his daughter, she’s my goddaughter, he tells Max that these are the good old days. He had to explain to his daughter what that meant. She’s only sixteen, she didn’t get it. He goes, “You’re learning to get your learner’s permit and get your license. When you’re 21 you’re going to have different worries and we’re going to think, ‘Man wasn’t life simple when I was trying to get my driver’s license?’” It’s at the core of why we do this. This is a way for Ian and I to have fun and cement things and memories that we do and memorialize them, talk about them, and talk about them together. Ian and I are very good friends. This makes us closer. We have an hour a week where we’re talking about a similar subject and when we’re not recording, we talk about things that we want to talk about or things that we just talked about. What I can tell you is this, I hope to be successful in business, but if I had to pick becoming a business success, or family success, and I had to pick in harsher terms, be a business failure, but be a successful husband and father. I would choose those.

If you’ve got to look at the two, be a failure as a father and a husband, that’s the right decision to make. You’ve got to prioritize and figure things out. It’s a somber way to finish this. I can speak for myself, I just don’t have Jeff Bezos’ ambition as I read through the book. Probably about 100 pages into a 300-page book, he had blown past my ambitions of where I was at a point in my life and I’m cool with it. The older I get, I still have plenty of different ambitions and things I want to do as long as they’re fun. It’s a phenomenal story. There’s a lot of urban legends that helped me break up about what it’s like to work within that company and the things that they do. It’s also a matter of Amazon, people and customers adore it. Not everyone who works there loves working there. They bully a lot of suppliers and some people but to make customers love you for that long and to do things as well at low prices with that speed, you have to have a very heavy hand to pull off what they did. That’s my biggest takeaway.

I feel the same way and I’m going to say it, Ian and I went to Omaha, Nebraska, where all good times are hatched. We went to the annual meeting before COVID for Berkshire Hathaway. Someone asked Buffett and Munger, “Why didn’t you invest in Amazon?” Buffett said, “What he did is incredible. Congratulations. We’re huge fans, but we don’t invest in miracles.” What I can tell you is this and I feel this way, in order to create a miracle, there’s an insane sacrifice. There’s a lot of happiness between the ground and a miracle around life. We read books like this because they inspire us. They’re fun. They’re cool. It’s neat to get inside the brain of someone like that. I will most likely never be a billionaire and I’m perfectly fine with that. There’s a lot of good living between here and there.

One of the things that I learned is just to enjoy the moment. For us, this show is us enjoying the moment. We have fun. We laugh. We joke. We talk about stuff we like, but if you have that insane desire to build something, and it’s enjoyable for you, do it. However, if you’re on a different trajectory, and most likely, if you’re reading this blog, you are. What I would tell you is this, enjoy what it is you’ve chosen to do and have a great time doing it. Pay attention to the important stuff. Do the things that impact you in a way that you want them to and have fun with it.

Frank, that’s a hell of a wrap-up. I don’t have much to add to it. It’s been a pleasure talking to you about The Everything Store.

Again, we should have just done an audiobook.

I bet the audiobook takes five hours to hear the whole book. See you, Frankie.

That wraps up our two-part, compelling series on The Everything Store. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed reading the book, taking notes, building an outline and talking about Jeff Bezos taking over the world. If you love our show, please give us a review at Apple Podcasts. If you’re new to the show, we’d love it if you hit that subscribe button.

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