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Keeping the short-termers at bay

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos wants us to think long term. That’s the reason behind the burial of a $42 million clock deep in the Sierra Diablo Mountains in Texas. The timepiece will run for 10,000 years.

Who better than Bezos to build an icon to long-term thinking? The company was founded in 1994, listed in 1997, but didn’t post profit until 2001.

In 1997, he said this in his first report to Amazon.com shareholders: “Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh trade-offs differently than some companies.”

His company isn’t the only one to get off to a slow start:

1.  Phil Knight began importing Tiger brand (now Asics) running shoes in 1964. It wasn’t until 1971 that he introduced the first Nike shoe.

2.  McDonald’s had only one burger stand in its first 10 years. Twenty-two years later, it finally unveiled its Golden Arches logo.

3.  William Harley and Arthur Davidson built a motorized bicycle prototype in 1901, but it wasn’t strong enough to forge up a Milwaukee hill. They didn’t sell their first Harley-Davidson model until four years later.

As for Amazon, Bezos is credited with seeing the long-term potential early on—and keeping the short-termers at bay long enough to build the world’s biggest online retailer.

— Adapted from “10,000 Year Clock Is Icon of Building to Scale and for Long Term,” Adam Gordon, Forbes; “How to Think Like America’s 18th-Richest Man, Jeff Bezos,” John Warrillow, Inc.

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