Looking to hold a productive meeting? Then don’t plan on ordering more than two pizzas.
So says Jeff Bezos, the self-made billionaire who created Amazon in 1994—well before any of us non-tech folk really knew what the Internet would become.
The reasoning’s pretty simple.
We’ve all been there before: Let’s call it the eight-pizza meeting. The bossman’s trying to talk, but everyone’s shuffling to get food and whispering amongst themselves. Where are the plates? Can you pass me a napkin?
Sure, there’s camaraderie there in the sense that everyone’s together. But at the end of the day, the only thing people will talk about is how the meeting was a waste of time, how no one could hear anything, how they’d probably do nothing at their desks anyway, but at least they’d answer a few emails.
Jeff Bezos’ philosophy behind the two-pizza meeting simply points out the obvious: The fewer people involved in a project, the less distraction, the more productivity. Teams that are excessively large are bound to be less effective, because in order for things to get done in those settings, more voices will have to be heard. And they’re not necessarily the ones worth hearing.
A Small-Town Boy Becomes a Legend
Over the course of time, many high school students across the country become valedictorians. But not many valedictorians become household names.
So what’s different about Jeff Bezos?
Well, for starters, he’s kind of a visionary, which means he doesn’t think like you or I do. He literally thinks about building space cities that orbit the Earth—complete with amusement parks and hotels—that are large enough to house three million people, a place you and I could go visit.
That’s what he really thinks about.
So sometimes, you’ve got to think outside the box. Aim high, and you never know where you’re going to land. Jeff Bezos thought of a website people could visit to buy books. And then he thought some more, and now his website sells everything, from milk to beds to slippers. And cloud hosting services.
Now, he thinks about galactic rollercoasters.
Wait, Amazon Doesn’t Even Turn a Profit?
The days are numbered for most executives whose companies regularly don’t report substantial net incomes. But somehow, Jeff Bezos is exempt.
As they say, you’ve got to spend money in order to make it. And Jeff Bezos knows that. By investing all of Amazon’s soaring revenues back into the company, its future looks brighter than ever.
While it might be more comfortable to hang on to your money, Jeff Bezos is proving that purchasing the right assets and making the right investments is what’s most important in business—even if it doesn’t make immediate financial sense.
Sure, it might be risky move if the tide were to ever turn against his company. But does anyone have any doubt Amazon will succeed in the long run?
For Bezos, the Sky is the Limit
But he’s quite the juggler: In addition to orchestrating his Amazon empire and figuring ways to let people ride waterslides in space, Jeff Bezos also somehow found the time to fork over $250 million in cash to buy the The Washington Post. And he also found time donate $42 million to a project that aims to build a device that’ll keep accurate time for 10,000 years.
His ambitions seem endless—as do his visions—and his nearly $30 billion fortune speaks for itself.
So what can you learn from Jeff Bezos?
That more often than we’d like to admit, simplicity is right. That blazing your own trail—trying new things—is essential. That no matter what, you’ve got to really care about what you do. That everything you do is important, down to the last sentence, the last word.