• The Jeff Bezos Way: How to Design Your Ideal Future

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    - video content in brief -
    Jeff bezos had a simple, but very effective decision-making system that almost guaranteed that what he was doing was exactly what he should have been doing. The world was looking at a checker’s board while he was playing chess.

    The foundation of his secret is that he was on an entirely different time-horizon. He didn’t care to win over a period defined by someone else, whether that be the media or Wall Street; rather, he was doing his own thing today while being relentlessly focused on tomorrow.

    Observing this, if there is one skill that separates Bezos from other effective CEOs — and really most people in general — it’s the ability to make optimal decisions in the face of a future he doesn’t fully understand.

    Most of us have to make similar decisions all the time, and these decisions are incredibly important, and their consequences can ripple for decades.

    Having a framework is absolutely crucial. Luckily, we can steal one.

    1. Vision As Directional Orientation

    When it comes to making the most important and the most long-term decisions, Bezos has a simple rule that’s quite useful:

    “Focus [your vision] on the things that won’t change.”
    At Amazon, this means that everything is built around their value of customer obsession. They don’t try to hop on every new fad because they don’t know which one will still matter. They do, however, know that in 20 years, customers will still want faster deliveries and cheaper products. They can build a future around making that a primary area of focus.

    Similarly, if you’re 30 years old, you may not be able to say exactly how your personal taste will evolve tomorrow, but you can be reasonably sure that if you have enjoyed being creative for 20 years, then the next 20 years likely won’t change that. You can build a career around that.

    Having a long-term focus gives you more control over the product of your actions, but that doesn’t matter if you don’t have a stable orientation.

    The only way to get one is to determine what part of you will remain intact.

    2. The Slow Guidance of Tinkering
    Once a directional orientation is decided, the focus turns closer to home. You have to actually figure out the steps you need to take to get there.

    The problem at this point is that, if your directional orientation isn’t overly specific — it shouldn’t be — and if it’s a long, long way out —as it should be — then it’s hard to work backwards to determine clear day to day steps of action.

    On top of that, it can be impossible to know where exactly to start. It’s easy to decide that you want to be remembered as a great artist in 30 years, but how do you decide what kind, or the details of how you are going to improve?

    The answer is surprisingly simple. Test and then drop; tinker and then build.

    Many people make the mistake early on in the lifetime of a big decision to take one path and stick to it. That’s generally not optimal because, again, it’s difficult to know what exactly you need or like until you have it.

    3. What Not To Do
    The intuitive approach many people have to planning their future is to pick a specific medium-term goal and then work backward in exact steps. They imagine themselves five years ahead and put the remaining pieces together.

    The problem, however, is that medium-term goals don’t allow for versatility. They are often too defined, which is an issue when dealing with uncertainty, and they are too brief, which rushes the patience you need to tinker.

    While it might appear that having a directional orientation over 30 years is harder to justify than a five-year goal, the truth is that a long horizon stops you from making short-sighted choices, and more importantly, it gives you more control over the unpredictability of randomness.

    This was exactly the reason people doubted Bezos and Amazon for all those years. They were too focused on results over a quarter, and in the process, they failed to see how well they were being set up for the decade.

    It’s easy to have luck work against you in a short time-frame, but it’s almost impossible to not succeed if you’re willing to put 30 years of work into it.

    We live in a dynamic and changing world, and the only way to make effective decisions in such a world is to avoid static frameworks. We have to allow a degree of fluidity and openness in how we make choices.

    The future may be unpredictable, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t shape it. Show less
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