Jeff Bezos Explains Why He Prefers People Who ‘Are Right a Lot’ and How Anyone Can Learn to Be Right a Lot, Too

This skill is unexpected, yet vital.

Courtesy of Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Courtesy of Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
  • Jeff Bezos believes that the best leaders are “right a lot.” 
  • The CEO of Amazon was asked about this unusual belief at the Amazon re:MARS conference on Thursday. 
  • He explained that the people who are right a lot have a lot in common. And one of the most important traits is that they change their minds a lot. 
  • If that sounds like those people are simply wishy-washy, here’s why Bezos believes it’s actually a vital skill. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Under the stewardship of founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s culture is guided by a lot of principles

Some of these company credos are fairly well known: Amazon’s customer obsession or its frugality, for instance. 

But on Thursday, Bezos was asked about one of the odder company principles; the one that he has called his favorite: that leaders “are right a lot.”

Bezos was speaking on stage at the Amazon re:MARS conference in Las Vegas, a gathering devoted to AI, robotics and space tech. He was being interviewed by his employee, Jenny Freshwater, who is Amazon’s director of forecasting. 

“Yeah, I like people who are right a lot,” Bezos laughed when Freshwater asked him about it. 

But then he admitted that simply proclaiming that good leaders are right a lot “is not super helpful. It’s an obvious desire.” To actually be consistently correct requires other important qualities. And Bezos said that he’s detected some common patterns among that group of people.

“People who are right a lot, they listen a lot. They also change their mind a lot,” he said.

Have the discipline to “disconfirm” your biases

Changing your mind a lot is not something that’s always viewed as a good quality, Bezos acknowledged. In politics for instance, a person who changes their mind a lot is labeled a “flip-flopper” — something that’s considered a negative trait.

But the Amazon CEO sees value in having a change of mind.

And while tech companies like Amazon are famous for relying on data to make quantitative decisions, Bezos stressed that this isn’t just about data. In fact, people that are right a lot often do it without any new info, he said. They simply sleep on what they’ve heard and sometimes come to a new decision.

There’s also some simple math involved. “The world is so dynamic that if you don’t change your mind a lot, you’re just, by definition, going to be wrong a lot,” Bezos pointed out.

So does that mean that people who are right a lot are really just wishy-washy? Succeeding more by chance than by smarts?

Not the kind of people that Bezos is talking about.

He’s talking about people who very deliberately and willing question their own assumptions. “They work very hard to discipline themselves, they want to disconfirm their foundational biases and things. And this is very unnatural for human beings. We are very selective in our evidence gathering.”

We prefer to look for evidence to confirm the bias. “It’s a very human thing to do,” he says. But people who are right a lot can see the beliefs they “hold firmly” and they “actively try to look for evidence that disconfirms that idea.”

He said, ‘If you can do that, you are going to be right more often.”

Originally published on Business Insider.

More from Business Insider:

6 science-backed reasons you keep procrastinating — and what you can do to beat it once and for all

10 expert tips for wowing a hiring manager to land the job of your dreams

I asked experts how to be healthier — here are the 8 best tips they gave me

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Courtesy of 
Brent Lewis / Getty Images

Jeff Bezos Says the True Secret to Business Success is to Focus on the Things That Won’t Change, Not the Things That Will

by Julie Bort
Courtesy of Pixabay

Jeff Bezos Says Truly Intelligent People Aren’t Afraid to Do This

by Justin Bariso
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Jeff Bezos speaks onstage at WIRED25 Summit: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Tech Icons Of The Past & Future on October 15, 2018 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED25  )

Jeff Bezos Says This 1 Sentence (Hidden in Plain Sight for 20 Years) Is the Key to Amazon’s Success

by Scott Mautz
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.