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.