We all have great days. Maybe we get a raise. Maybe it’s our kid’s birthday. For Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, a great day can entail making over $12 billion overnight.

But Bezos didn’t just wake up one day owning Amazon, space company Blue Origin and The Washington Post with a total net worth of $134 billion. It took decades of perseverance through crises and bobbing his way through technological changes to get to this point. It also took a little help from his family.

Business Insider just released a fascinating interview with Bezos, in which he talks about the skills that helped him reach success and the positive impact his family has had on his career.


Photo Credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

From packing up books on the floor in the mid-1990s at the start of Amazon to aiming to launch humans into space with Blue Origin by 2020, Bezos said the main thing that’s helped him do it all has been resourcefulness.

“Being resourceful. If there’s a problem, there’s a solution,” he said.

Finding motivation through family

He first learned this lesson while working on a ranch in Texas with his grandfather. Bezos’ grandfather as well as the love and support from his family, including his wife Mackenzie, have been extremely influential on his career.

“Look, we all get gifts, we get certain things in our life that we’re very lucky about,” he said. “And one of the most powerful ones is who your early role models are.”

He added: “When you have loving and supportive people in your life, like MacKenzie, my parents, my grandfather, my grandmother, you end up being able to take risks.”

While love from your family is unconditional, it helps if you spend some time with them. This is what’s often referred to as work-life balance. Bezos doesn’t like that term. He goes on trips with his siblings (thanks to his mom who takes care of the kids) and just went on an amazing trip to Norway for a few days with his wife and family. For Bezos, work-life balance is more of a work-life circle.

“[…] The reality is, if I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy. And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy. It actually is a circle. It’s not a balance.”

Handling risks and criticism

If you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner, Bezos’ advice is to not be scared of your competitors. Instead, be scared of your customers.

“Look, you know, it’s okay to be afraid, but don’t be afraid of our competitors, because they’re never going to send us any money. Be afraid of our customers. And if we just stay focused on them, instead of obsessing over this big competitor that we just got, we’ll be fine.”

From criticism about privacy to accusations that he’s created a monopoly, Bezos says he invites criticism  — it’s part of the game. But at the end of the day, all the risks are worth it.

“Life is full of different risks. And I think that, when you think about the things that you will regret when you’re 80, they’re almost always the things that you did not do.”