Teachers, who are really good create that environment where you can be very satisfied by the process of learning. If you do something and you find it a very satisfying experience then you want to do more of it. The great teachers somehow convey in their very attitude and their words and their actions and everything they do that this is an important thing you're learning. You end up wanting to do more of it and more of it and more of it. That's a real talent some people have to convey the importance of that and to reflect it back to the students.
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You want to look at what other companies are doing. It's very important not to be hermetically sealed. But you don't want to look at it as if, 'OK, we're going to copy that.' You want to look at it and say, 'That's very interesting. What can we be inspired to do as a result of that?' And then put your own unique twist on it.
When you receive criticism from well-meaning people, it pays to ask, 'Are they right?' And if they are, you need to adapt what they're doing. If they're not right, if you really have conviction that they're not right, you need to have that long-term willingness to be misunderstood. It's a key part of invention.
The Post is famous for its investigative journalism. It pours energy and investment and sweat and dollars into uncovering important stories. And then a bunch of websites summarize that [work] in about four minutes and readers can access that news for free. One question is, how do you make a living in that kind of environment? If you can't, it's difficult to put the right resources behind it... Even behind a paywall, websites can summarize your work and make it available for free. From a reader point of view, the reader has to ask, 'Why should I pay you for all that journalistic effort when I can get it for free from another site?'
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I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, 'OK, I'm looking back on my life. I want to minimise the number of regrets I have.' And I knew that when I was 80, I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate 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 ever having tried. I knew that that would haunt me every day.
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I think technology advanced faster than anticipated. In that whirlwind, a lot of companies didn't survive. The reason we have done well is because, even in that whirlwind, we kept heads-down focused on the customers. All the metrics that we can track about customers have improved every year.
If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you're competing against a lot of people, But if you're willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you're now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavours that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We're willing to plant seeds, let them grow""and we're very stubborn. We say we're stubborn on vision and flexible on details.
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The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it.
The framework I found which made the decision incredibly easy was what I called "" which only a nerd would call "" a 'regret minimization framework'. So I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, 'Okay, now I'm looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have.
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On the Internet, companies are scale businesses, characterized by high fixed costs and relatively low variable costs. You can be two sizes: You can be big, or you can be small. It's very hard to be medium. A lot of medium-sized companies had the financing rug pulled out from under them before they could get big.
... if it's not your style to stretch and go the extra mile to make sure our customer experience is great, you're going to have an allergic reaction to this company. You probably won't stay. If you do try and stay, but can't adapt to the culture then it will reject you like a virus from a healthy immune system.
I don't think that you can invent on behalf of customers unless you're willing to think long-term, because a lot of invention doesn't work. If you're going to invent, it means you're going to experiment, and if you're going to experiment, you're going to fail, and if you're going to fail, you have to think long term.
Because, you know, resilience - if you think of it in terms of the Gold Rush, then you'd be pretty depressed right now because the last nugget of gold would be gone. But the good thing is, with innovation, there isn't a last nugget. Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities.
A lot of people "" and I'm just not one of them "" believe that you should live for the now. I think what you do is think about the great expanse of time ahead of you and try to make sure that you're planning for that in a way that's going to leave you ultimately satisfied. This is the way it works for me.
We've done price elasticity studies, and the answer is always that we should raise prices. We don't do that, because we believe -- and we have to take this as an article of faith -- that by keeping our prices very, very low, we earn trust with customers over time, and that that actually does maximize free cash flow over the long term.