Jeff Bezos’ values (and yours)
Have you ever heard the saying, “Show me your receipts, and I will show you your values?”
An ancient proverb puts it like this, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Last week, Jeff Bezos’ space flight wasn’t the only spectacle commanding attention.
His values were on full display.
The world’s richest man launched into space aboard a rocket developed by his private spaceflight company, Blue Origin.
Since its founding in 2000, Bezos has put an estimated $7.5 billion of his own money into his space venture enterprise.
His company’s long-term goals are creating an “off-Earth economy,” with millions of people living and working in space while moving resource extraction and heavy industry from the planet.
Innovation, futurism, forward-thinking, creativity, environmentalism (debatable)…
While these values initially land on most as benevolent, there is a dark side.
Take a discerning (some would say cynical) glance at these values and an underbelly emerges. Fierce competition, unsustainability, and single-mindedness.
Allow me to elaborate.
After his space joyride, Bezos received much criticism for unfairly benefiting from U.S. corporate tax breaks, not contributing to more philanthropic causes, and unsavory employment practices with Amazon’s 1.3 million employees.
We have the right to be angry. We have the right to criticize. We have the right to boycott Amazon.
And of course, Jeff Bezos has the right to legally spend the money the way he wants.
Let’s take a look at Bezos’ philanthropic spending.
Bezos recently gave $200 million worth of “Courage and Civility Awards” to American news and political commentator, Van Jones, and celebrity Chef José Andrés — both leaders in nonprofits and social causes.
Benzos stated, announcing the award:
“We need unifiers and not vilifiers. It’s easy to be courageous but also mean. Try being courageous and civil. Try being courageous and a unifier. That’s harder and way better, and makes the world better.”
What’s the lesson we can learn from Bezos’ values here?
It’s clear: His generosity comes with a declarative message.
Meanwhile — in a nearly completely opposite approach — McKenzie Scott (Bezos’ ex-wife) has been quietly giving her billions away to nonprofits after hiring a consultant to advise on her philanthropic endeavors.
Her philanthropic values seem to drip of humility, generosity, and compassion.
What about your values?
Personally, I’ve spent thousands on Amazon(dot)com purchases in the last few months.
Clearly, two of my values are “ease” and “effortlessness”. The ease of a Prime membership and groceries being delivered in a few hours makes me one of the millions who funded Bezos’ entrepreneurial wealth.
However, here is the truth. The unfortunate underbelly of my values is “lazy” and “unimaginative”.
This week, I noticed the impact of my spending and, moving forward, choose to be a good steward of my wealth.
I choose minimalism, sustainability and to practice humility. I chose to spend locally and spend more time researching other purchasing options.
A movement begins with one and turns into millions. If you do not like the values of our political and business leaders, look at yourself in the mirror and choose differently.
Don’t complain, act.
You will thank yourself for staying true to yourself and your values.