While most of us have heard the story of how Jeff Bezos left his cushy Wall Street job behind in 1994 to start Amazon.com in his garage, most of us don't know much about his relationship with his wife MacKenzie and the lessons they are together teaching their four children.
Jeff and MacKenzie -- both Princeton alumni, and former colleagues at New York City's D.E. Shaw hedge fund -- married in 1993. Impressed with the fact that web usage was growing at the rate of 2,300% per year, Jeff was convinced that the future was not in the physical world -- it was in the online world.
According to Jeff, after a year of marriage, "I told my wife MacKenzie that I wanted to quit my job and go do this crazy thing that probably wouldn't work since most startups don't, and I wasn't sure what would happen after that."
MacKenzie encouraged her husband to pursue the opportunity, and the rest as they say is history. Amazon has rocketed to annual revenues of $136 billion, and Jeff Bezos -- with a net worth of more than $94 billion -- is currently the world's richest person.
On Saturday, November 4th, Jeff Bezos was interviewed by his brother Mark at the ideas festival Summit LA17 event in Los Angeles. During the course of the interview, Jeff explained the importance of resilience -- bouncing back from failure. According to Jeff,
"People pursuing dreams and passions know -- the whole point of moving things forward is you run into problems, you run into failures, things don't work, you have to back up and try again. Each one of those times when you have to step back, back up and try again. You're using resourcefulness, you're using self-reliance. You're trying to invent your way out of a box."
Zeroing in on his children, Jeff explained how he and his wife MacKenzie are raising some exceptionally self-reliant and resilient kids. Says Jeff,
"How do you help your children, what's the right thing? My wife has a great saying -- we let our kids use, even now they're 17 through 12, but even when they were 4, we would let them use sharp knives. By the time they were, I don't know, maybe 7 or 8, we would let them use certain power tools and my wife, much to her credit, she has this great saying, 'I would much rather have a kid with 9 fingers than a resourceless kid.' Which, I just think, is a fantastic attitude about life."
Fortunately for the Bezos kids, Jeff reports that they do still have all their fingers. But they have learned valuable lessons in self-reliance and resilience from their parents that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.