Jeff Bezos did something crazy.
Years before the Internet was mainstream he decided to go after it.
Unlike a college kid with nothing to lose, he had a lot to lose.
He had a good, stable job on Wall Street.
Recently married with a new home, he had reasons to be risk averse.
But imagining what the Internet could be, he wanted to avoid looking back in regret.
He makes it sound easy
You’ll see him talk about it in this short video clip.
It’s a classic from 2001 where he’s talking about leaving Wall Street to start Amazon.
See, the thing is, of course now some 27 years after founding Amazon, and becoming the richest man in the world, it looks like an obvious decision.
But going back to when he was making it, the decision was anything but obvious.
What his boss said to him well captures it.
Keep in mind he’s ONLY worth $6.5bn…
Bezos’ boss at the time was David Shaw, a computer scientist and founder of D.E. Shaw.
In every way Shaw is a powerful figure in his own right.
His firm was once described by Fortune as “the most intriguing and mysterious force on Wall Street.”
So back when Bezos was making this decision, he was hardly leaving behind some crap job.
He was already strapped into a rocket ship.
Sitting in the type of job that many on Wall Street dream of even today.
Yet for Bezos, there was something far more compelling he was focused on.
“Better idea for somebody who didn’t already have a good job”
Having already decided he was going to resign, Bezos told his boss—
“I’m going to go do this crazy thing and start this company that sells books online.”
Shaw replied favorably, “This actually sounds like a really good idea to me…”
Before finishing with the phrase I wrote above—
“But it sounds like it would be a better idea for somebody who didn’t already have a good job.”
He suggested Jeff spend 48 hours thinking about it, which he did.
And despite the fact he was in a good job.
Was recently married to a woman who as he says in this video had “married a fairly stable guy in a stable career path…”
The Bezos’ decided to leave it all behind and move across the country to start Amazon.
Regret minimization framework
You see that’s the title of this video.
And you also hear Jeff describe this as the framework he used to make this decision “incredibly easy.”
Now, I would add, having invested a couple of months deeply researching him that you hear Jeff describe using this framework all the time.
In human programming there’s a notion called Meta Programs.
These are the ways of thinking that you most naturally, and constantly keep coming back to.
An example being—Some people are programmed to be more reactive, while others are proactive.
Similarly, this regret minimization framework is a core program Bezos uses for decision-making.
This is how he describes using it in this case—
I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, I’m looking back on my life, I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have. I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret participating in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that. But I knew the one thing I might regret is not having ever tried. And I knew that would haunt me every day.
Drive forward… while you can
People keep asking me, where have you been?
Um, along with everyone else, mostly in my home, of course…
But what they really mean is why haven’t you been writing as frequently, or doing some of those things you used to do?
I’ve been too busy.
Way too busy.
Now might be the busiest time I’ve ever had, in a life of 100 hour weeks.
But it’s also by design.
This last year has been massively transforming.
So many amazing things are happening with clients and in our businesses that I’m staying pedal to the metal.
You want to drive your mission while the sun shines.
But more importantly, who knows if you’ll ever get another time?
If not now, when will you?
If you still don’t see how precious your little time here on this earth is…
You need to relive the last 15 months.
Quite simply, this situation has made it clear that everything in your life can change overnight.
One day you can have a job, business, life, and the next it can all be taken away.
We all know people who have lost their lives.
And plenty who’ve lost their businesses and livelihoods.
Yet on the flipside, some of my clients and friends have made absolute fortunes in the last year.
In every market, in every time, opportunity is everywhere.
And so too is the risk you’ll be looking back regretting holding yourself back from going after it.