In 1994 Jeff Bezos was watching the Internet explode.
As we watched him say last week in this clip he saw, “If it was growing at 2,300% a year pretty soon it was going to be huge.”
Still, most people had never heard of the Internet.
Nobody knew how it would evolve.
Let alone how any business would use it to make money.
Taking your shot
Sitting in his job at D.E. Shaw Jeff was dreaming of the everything store.
If a business could sell anything online, why couldn’t one store sell ‘everything,’ and to everyone?
It seems “unrealistic,” doesn’t it?
Even though you can look out in the world and see Jeff and his team have now built it, how might you have imagined it from his seat?
He was sitting in a great job on Wall Street, the type of job most would be afraid to leave.
Newly married, he had plenty of reasons to be risk averse.
Yet, there it was, right in front, this huge opportunity.
Or, was it?
70% chance of failure
Jeff gave himself 3X the odds.
90% of startups fail.
But borrowing $300,000 from his parents to start Amazon, Jeff told them it ONLY had a 70% chance of failing.
One might say that Jeff was lucky that his parents had the savings to fund his “bold bet.”
Yet also keep in mind this meant that he and his wife lacked it.
He was leaving this great seat on Wall Street without first “making his money,” for a 70%-likely-to-fail opportunity.
Would you bet on yourself and these odds?
Many were betting Jeff would fail.
Amazon’s success all seems so obvious now, doesn’t it?
But it’s SO CRUCIAL to keep in mind that at the time many were betting against Jeff and Amazon.
I was in Silicon Valley at this time, and I well remember the .bomb mantra.
Near everything was going to hell, and many proclaimed Amazon would too.
A couple of weeks ago Jeff Bezos tweeted this image with the attached message—
Listen and be open, but don’t let anybody tell you who you are. This was just one of the many stories telling us all the ways we were going to fail. Today, Amazon is one of the world’s most successful companies and has revolutionized two entirely different industries.
Powerful reminder, isn’t it?
You choose you
“Don’t let anybody tell you who you are,” Jeff wrote.
Said a different way, ONLY you can know who you are.
What you are capable of.
And the things YOU can make possible.
btw, check out the comment at the bottom of Jeff’s tweet from Elon Musk, which reinforces this idea.