It's the question often asked of successful people.
In particular, this question is often the one that comes up the most when it comes to entrepreneurs.
And for those who have built success-stories, it's hard to escape it no matter what linguistic subterfuge they take. No doubt Jeff Bezos, the former richest man in the world, has had to deal with it.
The question is: What advice can you give to someone who wants to start or is starting a business?
Bezos is the founder of Amazon (AMZN) - Get Free Report. The e-commerce giant has revolutionized our relationship to shopping and physical stores. It has become almost impossible to be a retailer without a platform to sell your products online. We are now talking about omni channel, which would be a kind of integration of physical sales channels and online networks in order to offer customers the best possible experience. For a retailer, it is a question of weaving a kind of spider web to capture the customer where they wants to shop.
Amazon's Path to Power
Less glorious, however, is the fact that Amazon is known to be an anti-union stronghold, often earning it bad media coverage.
Before becoming the "conglomerate" that touches multiple areas of our daily lives, Amazon went through difficult times and was even on the verge of bankruptcy when the internet bubble burst in the 2000s. On several occasions this year, Bezos has recounted some of the struggles the cloud juggernaut had to go through..
"25 years ago yesterday, AMZN went public," he wrote on May 16. "As the Grateful Dead would say, 'What a long, strange trip it’s been."
He added that: "It’s been far from smooth. Lots of risk-taking, lots of invention, lots of mistakes, so much we still have to do better. I wouldn’t trade the ride for anything."
"I have this old 2006 BusinessWeek framed as a reminder," he posted the following day. "The 'risky bet' that Wall Street disliked was AWS, which generated revenue of more than $62 billion last year."
Six days after, he was overtaken by emotion, posting a message that conveyed the pressure and doubts that undoubtedly ran through him during crucial moments.
"Thanks for the history shout out here. Many twists and turns and failures and successes in those 23 years…" Bezos said on May 23.
'Organizational Misfits' Are Required
Aware of the challenges and doubts faced by business leaders and potential entrepreneurs, the current second richest man in the world has just given them some advice. This advice comes at a time when Amazon Prime Video is the talk of the town. Indeed, "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," the new TV show of the streaming service is a big success.
The premiere of this mega-budget fantasy series based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien was seen by more than 25 million people around the world.
"If you want unusual results, you’re going to need some missionary, brilliant 'organizational misfits' on your team," Bezos tweeted on Sept. 9 in comment to a Wall Street Journal article explaining that for this tv show which is the most expensive in the history of television Amazon Video entrusted the writing to "two writers who had never done anything like this before."
He was then asked if Amazon, the parent company, had applied the same recipe. In other words, had the billionaire entrusted heavy responsibilities to "misfits" when he built the e-commerce giant.
"Would you say that was the case in Amazon’s early days?" a Twitter user asked.
"100%," Bezos responded.
The advice divided Twitter users. Some found it "inspirational," but others argue that Amazon's first employees were all well-known people in their fields.
"Appreciate the insight Jeff - inspirational," commented one user.
"That's not true. Look at the first 20 Amazon employees. All very experienced in their own domain. None of them was a whatever," disputed another user.
Bezos didn't respond to the comments.