'Celebrate your choices, not your gifts!'

Updated: Jan 18, 2020, 07:30 IST | Mayank Shekhar | Mumbai

Anchor Mandira Bedi perfectly sums up Jeff Bezos's full-on gyan session, hosted by SRK, Zoya

Jeff Bezos. Picture courtesy/ YouTube
Jeff Bezos. Picture courtesy/ YouTube

"Embedded in efficiency is [the fact] that you know where you're going. But it's when you're wandering, is when you're learning. It's your time, and that's the time I want," said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in what turned out to be a riveting conversation in Mumbai, Thursday night — especially if you read between the lines, and took it as a session bordering on spirituality.

What with excellent life lessons such as the fact that "you must celebrate your choices, not your gifts," as anchor Mandira Bedi summed up her takeaway on stage, after the hour-long chat. For gift, whether it's beauty or intelligence, as Bezos put it, is something you're born with. What you make of it makes all the difference. No, Bezos didn't sound like the Sadhguru. He's had quite a lifetime to prove what he's saying.

And the talk was peppered with much banter, as you would expect for a session hosted by Shah Rukh Khan, arguably the wittiest Indian on screen, along with Zoya Akhtar, the whiz behind it. Strangely, they never spoke about money, sitting across the world's richest man. Which is only one way to describe the globe's biggest retailer.

Mandira BediMandira Bedi

The other is to know Bezos as the man who changed how so many humans talk to others —well, they don't; they talk to his little device. Bezos also spoke extensively on listening to his customers, who have "divine discontent", and that he still shows up in meetings with a carton full of consumer complaints lodged directly to his personal e-mail.

In what was an excellent question to ponder over, Khan asked Bezos what he thought was a waste of time — it's sleeping, for Khan, and "chamchagiri/ass-licking", for Akhtar. Bezos's philosophy centres on finding a work-life balance. He believes it's not hard work that people ever have an issue with. It's having no control over our lives that bogs people down: "Every job comes with pieces we don't like. [The key] is to enjoy [at least] half of it."

Bezos's first major job had him as the sole employee in 1994, seeking funds for Amazon, which currently has 700,000 people on its rolls, including 70,000 in India alone, which is likely to grow, given Bezos announced "doubling Prime investment here". Did he ever have a Plan B in life? "Plan B should always be to make Plan A work!"

Jeff Bezos with Shah Rukh Khan and Zoya Akhtar
Jeff Bezos with Shah Rukh Khan and Zoya Akhtar

What else did Bezos talk about? It's Mumbai, and his first trip; so movies, of course, with the big man revealing a rather sound producer's head before an entirely film-industry audience, equating artistry to business, since the "very best do both". "It is talent that makes the story. In the entertainment business, everyone is talented, and yet the final product is bad. We don't know how to do it perfectly. Which is what makes it fun. It's art, not science. One of the hardest things humans do is tell riveting stories," Bezos said.

How do you end a gyan-full quasi spiritual night like this? Well, you clear the tables of all spirits first — no alcohol allowed, as AR Rahman steps in. The backdrop lights up to stunning Islamic architecture. Rahman enthralls the audience with a half-hour straight set of Sufi songs — completely lost in trance! Couldn't have asked for more.

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