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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014

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Video: Jeff Bezos: Engineering after Princeton


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Engineering alumnus Jeff Bezos offers new students advice and discusses his philosophy on innovation. View more alumni videos.


Video Closed Captions

(music)

Jeff Bezos:
My name is Jeff Bezos.

Jeff Bezos:
I studied electrical engineering and computer science,

Jeff Bezos:
graduated in 1986 from Princeton, and my current job,

Jeff Bezos:
I'm the founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

Jeff Bezos:
The Kindle is a wireless electronic reader.

Jeff Bezos:
We started working on it more than three years ago now,

Jeff Bezos:
more than, probably, almost five years ago now.

Jeff Bezos:
The idea is to take the key features of a physical book,

Jeff Bezos:
capture those and then go beyond that.

Jeff Bezos:
The number one feature of a physical book is that it

Jeff Bezos:
disappears while you're reading it.

Jeff Bezos:
You're not thinking about the ink and the glue and the

Jeff Bezos:
stitching and the paper.

Jeff Bezos:
You're entering the author's world and the physical object

Jeff Bezos:
just goes away. And that's what we wanted to

Jeff Bezos:
achieve with Kindle, to have a device so simple that

Jeff Bezos:
it too would disappear and let you enter the author's world.

Jeff Bezos:
Failure is an essential component of innovation and

Jeff Bezos:
invention. If you know it's going to work,

Jeff Bezos:
it's not an experiment.

Jeff Bezos:
And so if you want to invent, if you want to innovate,

Jeff Bezos:
failure is part and parcel with that.

Jeff Bezos:
There is no escape from that.

Jeff Bezos:
If I were to go back in time and give myself one piece of

Jeff Bezos:
advice as an undergraduate it would be: Take pride in your

Jeff Bezos:
decisions and hard work, but not in your gifts.

Jeff Bezos:
Celebrate your gifts.

Jeff Bezos:
Enjoy them.

Jeff Bezos:
But don't take pride in them.

Jeff Bezos:
Take pride in your decisions and hard work.

Jeff Bezos:
My best memory of Princeton is finishing problem sets in

Jeff Bezos:
partial differential equations.

Jeff Bezos:
And my worst memory of Princeton is starting my problem sets

Jeff Bezos:
in partial differential equations. (laughter)

Jeff Bezos:
For anybody who is starting -- for anybody,

Jeff Bezos:
it's their freshman week, and they are starting at Princeton --

Jeff Bezos:
I think the advice as to what to focus on is pretty simple,

Jeff Bezos:
which is to figure out -- which is not always easy -- but

Jeff Bezos:
try to figure out what you're genuinely interested in.

Jeff Bezos:
And then pursue those things. Alternative techniques might be

Jeff Bezos:
to try to figure out what you think is going to be most

Jeff Bezos:
lucrative. And I think those techniques tend

Jeff Bezos:
not to work. It's very, very difficult to chase after a wave.

Jeff Bezos:
What's better is to plant yourself in the middle of

Jeff Bezos:
something that you genuinely love and then wait for the wave

Jeff Bezos:
to come find you.

(music)

Jeff Bezos:
That just makes the video better, you guys.

Jeff Bezos:
You realize that, right, if there's a little bit of laugther that you can't quite cut out.

Jeff Bezos:
It's like the "Today Show," and the cameramen can't help but laugh.

Mike Wood:
And then the boom drops in the frame.

Jeff Bezos:
(laughter)

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