This episode, Mak & G look at some more billionaire life skills we can learn from the richest man on earth Jeff Bezos.
There’s a lot you can learn from how Jeff Bezos got so rich.
This episode, Mak & G talk about the importance of starting small, not caring too much about what people think of you, and why all billionaires have to make tough decisions quickly and efficiently.
“You have to start small and build from there.” – Mak
“Sooner or later you’ll have to make tough decisions.” – G
00:27 – How Jeff Bezos used to keep his siblings out of his room.
04:15 – The business plan Jeff Bezos wrote for Amazon and the first things that were sold on the website.
05:15 – The importance for businesses being open to pivot.
06:00 – Why we all need to be able to take criticism.
07:05 – The way Jeff Bezos invested in Amazon’s growth.
07:32 – How Jeff Bezos saved Amazon from almost going bankrupt.
09:04 – How much Jeff Bezo’s wife got from their divorce.
10:16 – What Jeff Bezos does with his money.
Connect with Ben Jones:
MAK: GRAAAANT, where ARE you?! GRAAAAAAAAAAAANT! Hmmm, maybe he’s in his room. WHOA Grant what was that?
GRANT: Haha, gotcha! Just following the example of our new friend Jeff Bezos. He once rigged an alarm to keep his brothers and sisters out of his room. Sounded like a pretty good idea so I did it too!
MAK: You scared the life out of me!
GRANT: Sorry sis. But thanks for testing it out for me! Proof of concept!
MAK: OOOkay, I’ll admit I’m a little impressed.
GRANT: Well that’s very big of you Mak, I appreciate that. We learned a bunch of cool stuff about Jeff last week right?
MAK: We sure did! My favorite part was that he worked at McDonalds. Crazy!
GRANT: Yeah I remember, he had a load of “regular” jobs before he started Amazon.
MAK: No kidding. That’s not what you’d guess for a guy whose now worth $175 billion!
GRANT: Not at all! Oh – finding out he’d once appeared in a Star Trek movie was trippy too.
MAK: Haha, agree! What was his one and only line again? “Speak normally”!
GRANT: Good memory! We know what dad’s favorite part was. Finding out that one of his cousins is the one and only country music star George Strait. Yeehaw, (singing) got in a fight in a bar over a girl…
MAK: Right. Any excuse for him to start singing! And you!
GRANT: I don’t want to talk about dad singing Mak. It’s too traumatizing!
MAK: Hey, I like dad’s singing!
GRANT: You must be trying to get your allowance increased!
MAK: Well…what I get, you get brother, so work with me here.
GRANT: Good point! I’m with you all the way. Anyway, We need to move on, enough reminiscing and enough fantasizing about getting a raise.
MAK: You’re right, we’ve got a LOT to get through. Like, only the entire Amazon origin story! Let’s see what dad’s doing.
DAD: Hey kids what’s up? I’m in the kitchen.
MAK: Dad, you’re in here? I can’t see you!
GRANT: He’s behind all the pizza boxes!! There’s like twenty of them in here!
DAD: Yup, you caught me! Lou’s is finally opened guys, and I’m doing my bit for the family by just making sure it’s as great as we all remember.
MAK: By trying every single pizza on the menu?
GRANT: Sure looks that way!
DAD: Noooot quite. I left out the crustless. As they say in Italy… Withouta di crusta…it just ain’t a pizza.
MAK: And what’s the verdict dad?
DAD: I think I need a little more testing time, I’ll let you know.
MAK/GRANT: Sure thing dad…we believe you.
DAD: Anyway, what are you guys up to?
GRANT: We’re finishing off that crazy Jeff Bezos story we started last week. We’ve been doing a TON of research dad.
MAK: Yeah enough chit chat already! Come on Grant, let’s get into it!
GRANT: Agree. So the year is 1994. Bill Clinton is president. Our home state of Indiana hit its lowest ever-recorded temperature, MINUS 36°fahrenheit! And Jeff Bezos is driving with his wife from New York to Seattle, writing his business plan for…AMAZON.
MAK: Back to where it all began. Just a guy in a car with an idea! So cool.
GRANT: Totally. And he started small, the only thing he sold on Amazon at first was books, it was literally just an online bookstore. I love books, but no way it would’ve been as successful as just a bookstore.
MAK: I agree. But, you know, I think I detect a Billionaire Life Skill right there. You have to start small and build from there, but sometimes you have to change too.
DAD: Good call Mak. Starting small is great, because many companies make big changes to be successful. We call those changes a “pivot”.
MAK: Is that what we learnt in basketball? You keep your foot in one place and the other can move around. So, he started with the bookstore, and moved around to other things?
DAD: Exactly!! Nobody goes straight from zero to a hundred in a straight line. Or in Jeff’s case, zero to a hundred and seventy-five billion. From tiny acorns mighty oaks do grow…
GRANT: That’s a pretty cool quote, I’m gonna have to remember that. Here’s another cool quote, from Jeff himself. He said that someone who cannot tolerate criticism shouldn’t do anything new or interesting.
MAK: Hold on, let me untangle that. A lot of negatives in there!
GRANT: Right, like at school when we learnt about double negatives making a positive.
MAK: Exactly! So Jeff was saying that you have to be prepared for people to laugh at you if you’re going to do something differently from what anyone’s done before.
GRANT: Exactly. Another billionaire life skill I guess! You cannot care what other people think of you.
DAD: That’s exactly right guys, it’s called having a thick skin. Like a rhinoceros, or like the milk on your hot chocolate and it’s one of the most important things in business. It can be tough out there!
MAK: Right, it sounds like that was even the case with Amazon too. Right Grant?
GRANT: Sure was. As the company grew, they had to deal with a lot of hard stuff.
MAK: What’d you find out G?
GRANT: Well for one thing, at the beginning he put almost all the profits back in the company. So, he invested in growth. So, Jeff had to borrow A LOT of money to keep it going – around $2billion in fact!
MAK: Wow, there’s that crazy ability to take risks again. We talked about that when we did Bill Gates. Guess it really is a common trait with these mega wealthy people!
GRANT: No kidding. And that wasn’t all, back in 2002 the company almost went bankrupt.
MAK: Seriously bankrupt?
GRANT: Yep, until Jeff made a bunch of tough decisions, including laying off over 1,000 people.
MAK: So, he fired all those people? That must’ve been tough for everyone?
GRANT: Did you hear that? Sounds like that’s another skill.
MAK: Sooner or later, you’ll have to make a tough decision. But, it saved the company.
GRANT: Yep. The following year, Amazon made a $400million profit!
MAK: Sounds like his path to wealth wasn’t a straight line. Dad was right! Between the years 2000 and 2018, his wealth changed a lot. Kind of like a roller coaster up and down. Sometimes over 50% at a time.
GRANT: That’s right, I heard that too. Seems like that would be soooo stressful.
DAD: That WOULD be stressful. If our money situation changed that much we’d have to make some BIG changes! No more pizzas for me, no video games for you. For most that’s too much stress.
MAK: Yeah, guess you definitely have to be able to live with that to be in the billionaire club.
GRANT: AGREE. And Jeff has had personal difficulties too. He got divorced and his wife Mackenzie got shares of Amazon, worth a mere $35billion.
MAK: Wow. So she’s in the billionaire club too!
GRANT: Sure is! In fact, she’s the fourth richest woman in the world!
MAK: I’m sure she was there through all the ups and downs?
GRANT: Agree, remember what mom says, behind every good man is a better woman!
DAD: Mom’s always right. MacKenzie supported Jeff from the time she was driving their car across the country while he wrote his business plan, and all along the way. She helped build it too!!
GRANT: So wait, their combined net worth right now must be…175 billion plus 35 billion…$210 billion!
DAD: That’s right. Nice work Grant. That’s a lot of money for a guy who started out selling books.
MAK: Which makes me wonder, what does Jeff Bezos DO with all his money? Is he a big philanthropist like Bill and Oprah?
GRANT: Good question! He is…but not quite as much.
DAD: What do you mean Grant?
GRANT: Well he has made a bunch of donations to great causes, but he’s nowhere near the Bill Gates 99% pledge!
MAK: Oh right I remember that, Bill pledged to give away 99% of his wealth in his lifetime and persuaded some other billionaires to do the same thing
GRANT: Right. Jeff’s not quite at that level, but like I said, he’s still done some cool and generous stuff.
MAK: Like what G?
GRANT: He has already pledged over $12 billion to the homeless in the US, as well as some childhood and immigrant education charities, and let’s not forget the fight against climate change,
MAK: Ok so that is still a LOT of money!
GRANT: Right. Remember, Jeff’s ex-wife, Mckenzie? She did the Giving Pledge Bill started and will give away more than half of her wealth, that’s over $15 billion. That’s a game-changer right there!
MAK: Agree. Do you think she goes by Mak? I could go for being a billionaire!
GRANT: That would be cool. You’d take care of your brother right? Hey, you could call me MAK for $35 billion!!
MAK: Funny G. With all that money, has Jeff bought some sweet stuff with his money. I mean I heard he has a private jet worth $65 million. That’s pretty cool.
GRANT: For SURE! He also owns a bunch of properties across the US. Kind of sounds like Oprah.
MAK: And like any good business owner that wants to grow, he reinvests a lot of his money back into Amazon.
GRANT: Of course. But I think the coolest thing he spends his money on is SPACE TRAVEL.
MAK: What? Did you say space travel? That Star Trek appearance must have really given him some “interplanetary” ideas!
GRANT: Exactly! But he really got serious about it, and now he’s selling $1billion of Amazon stock every year to fund his space tourism company, which he called Blue Origin.
MAK: Space TOURISM! Seriously?? Like visiting some place and just checking it out? Super cool! So does this mean one day we can buy a ticket to space?
GRANT: You already can! But they’re pretty hard to get hold of…and they cost up to $300,000 per person…
MAK: That’s a lot of allowance saving.
GRANT: Yeah, they’d have to freeze our bodies and wake us up in 100 years to be able to save that much…
MAK/GRANT: Dad, can we go to space? PLEEEEASE!
DAD: Sure you can! All you have to do is have an idea as good as Jeff’s and make it happen.
GRANT: Well there’s some motivation Mak, let’s brainstorm ideas!
MAK: Ok but I’m enforcing one of Jeff’s own rules, known as the “Two Pizza” rule – if two pizzas can’t feed all the people in the meeting, there are too many people!
GRANT: That’s being efficient.
MAK: Exactly, he has so much going on, he has to be efficient. So, how does the pizza rule work for us?
GRANT: Not so good. I can eat a whole pie, and so can you…and dad can eat two himself. But, he has more than enough to go around, so let’s just eat!! Pass me a plate!
DAD: Hey who said I was sharing??
MAK/GRANT: We did! So until next week…BYEEEE!
Dad wraps up:
Wow, we learned so much from Jeff Bezos’ story, it’s hard to know where to begin! We identified A LOT of Billionaire Life Skills over the last two episodes. Last week, we learned about
NUMBER ONE: Overcoming obstacles, and
NUMBER TWO: Building your skills.
This week, we have identified several additional skills to throw into the mix:
NUMBER THREE: Start small – nobody makes it to the billionaire club overnight, and be prepared to pivot. It definitely requires a long-term plan and a LOT of hard work.
NUMBER FOUR: You can’t care too much what people think of you! Doing something differently from everyone else is always going to attract comments, some of them might even be mean. You gotta believe in your idea!
NUMBER FIVE: Making tough decisions usually comes with the territory. This applies to any business owner and doesn’t just happen to the super wealthy ones. At some point, something will go wrong and you will be responsible for deciding what to do to fix it.
NUMBER SIX: Be efficient. Jeff Bezos really does have a two pizza rule for meetings! If you’ve got this much going on, you really have to learn to be organized and manage your time.
And, as Mak and G found out, the journey to this crazy amount of wealth is not always smooth. For instance, in the year 2000, Bezos’ wealth went DOWN by 40%! Then DOWN by another 66% a year later.
Hey, he was still worth a lot, but he held on and kept going. In 2004 his wealth was up 104% then again by 102% in 2007 and AGAIN by 85% in 2010…these are SCARY changes that most people will never even come CLOSE to experiencing! Things can go down, probably more often than they go up.
One last thing about Jeff. If there’s anything else you want to know, well guess what – you can ask him! He still works on the email address email@example.com and sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes, he replies to emails. Give it a try!
Thanks for being here. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. Remember you can download some questions on today’s episode at www.MoneyWithMakAndG.com/Download. Test your knowledge, and have fun. In addition, we’d love to hear from you, and it’s easy to do. Just send an email to “Ideas” @ money with Mak and G .com, and we’ll see you next time for more, when we’ll be learning about the youngest ever self-made billionaire, Kylie Jenner. Bye…