As the founder and longtime leader of the first publicly traded company to be worth $1 trillion, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has amassed quite a bit of knowledge about how to run a business.
Bezos, 54, started Amazon.com in 1994 as an online bookstore, working in a tiny office in the company’s early years. More than two decades later, Amazon earns more than $177 billion annually, while Bezos has a personal net worth of more than $160 billion and various side projects, including the space tourism firm Blue Origin and ownership of the Washington Post.
Here are some of Bezos’ tips for how to manage a successful business, as laid out during his conversation this week with Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein at the Economic Club’s annual dinner in Washington D.C., according to Axios.
Bezos favors a personal touch over a massive corporate apparatus, especially in a company’s early stages. He noted that Amazon had just five employees when it opened its doors.
"It's hard to remember for you guys, but for me it's like yesterday I was driving the packages to the post office myself, and hoping one day we could afford a forklift,” Bezos said.
Follow your gut
In the business world, instinct is more important that data sets, according to Bezos.
"If you can make a decision with analysis, you should do so. But it turns out in life that your most important decisions are always made with instinct and intuition,” he said.
Go to bed
Like HuffPost founder and entrepreneur Arianna Huffington, Bezos is a proponent of getting a full night’s rest – regardless of his busy schedule. Bezos said he gets eight hours of sleep every night.
"As a senior executive, you get paid to make a small number of high-quality decisions. Your job is not to make thousands of decisions every day."
Schedule important meetings early
Bezos said he likes to have any “high-IQ meetings” at 10 a.m., before he’s worn out by a full day of work.
“Like anything that's going to be really mentally challenging, that's a 10 o'clock meeting,” he said. “And by 5 p.m., I'm like, 'I can't think about that today. Let's try this again tomorrow at 10 a.m.'"
As an early adopter of e-commerce as a main sales platform, Amazon has developed a reputation for cutting-edge business decisions. Bezos argues that thinking ahead – sometimes years in advance – is a key part of any successful company.
“All of our senior executives operate the same way I do. They work in the future, they live in the future,” he said.