How did Jeff Bezos make one of the most important decisions in his life? His approach can be adopted by innovators in every field.
In the early 1990s Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, recognized the potential of the emerging tech development called the Internet. At the time, he was working at a New York City quantitative hedge fund, a type that uses algorithms and data-intensive methods for making trading decisions. It was a stable and lucrative position, with hefty annual bonuses. But Bezos had an idea for starting a company that would sell books online. He was looking for a framework that would help him decide which path to pursue. Should he stay or go?
In retrospect, we can all say his decision to leave and start an internet company was a great one. Look at what Amazon has become and how Bezos is now the wealthiest person in the world. Rewinding the clock, however, makes us realize that the decision was not so clear back then. How did Bezos — a self-described nerd who based his entire career success on quantitative data — decide to make the move?
Bezos developed a framework he calls his “Regret Minimization Strategy.” He looked ahead to age 80 and focused on minimizing the number of regrets he would have. “I knew that I was not going to regret having tried to participate in this thing called the Internet, which I thought was going to be a really big deal. And if I failed, I wouldn’t regret
Making Decisions Easier
Framed in this way, Bezos explains, “it was an incredibly easy decision” because it took him out of the “daily pieces of confusion,” such as walking away from his annual bonus that year. “If you think about the long term, you can make really good life decisions” in this way, he adds. (You can watch Bezos explain this strategy in a classic two-minute YouTube videothat also includes his trademark laugh.)
I learned about Bezos’ framework many years ago, and it has guided several big life decisions for me, including returning to school to get a
My challenge for you this week: Review the big decisions you might be facing and consider how the Regret Minimization Strategy may work for you.