What Jeff Bezos Learned by Working at McDonald’s at 16 Years Old


Jeff Bezos is a self-made billionaire and the CEO of Amazon, one of the most popular e-commerce sites available on the market. As a child and throughout his adult years, he was unique. Jacklyn, his mother, became pregnant at the age of 16 with her son Jeff. She still remembers how fascinated he was when discovering how toys and machines worked.

She says that he was wired differently and she always knew that, even when he was young. The moment she caught him trying to take apart his crib using a screwdriver, she knew it for sure.

When Jeff turned 16 years old, he, like many young teens, got a summer job working at McDonald’s. The year was 1980, and he claims he learned everything he could from that experience.

Bezos recently told Fast Company that he was a cook because the managers wouldn’t let him near the customers. He was at that age when he had acne and didn’t understand the concept of customer service. They decided he’d fit in well working the back line.

Bezos told Cody Teets, an author of a book about McDonald’s, that he considered himself a grill man, which meant that he had to keep going and keep everything paced right during the rushes.

According to Wired, his hands-on experience at the fast-food chain was his first brush with retail. Jeff spent his summer that year trying to study automation at the company and how to improve on them. For example, the beeps or signals used to tell others when to flip burgers, scramble eggs or pull the fries out of the vat.

This job also provided insight into customer service. Bezos told Fast Company that it was really hard and that customer obsession is one of the today’s leading principles, especially at his company, Amazon.

Jeff wasn’t the only entrepreneur out there to get lessons by working fast-food. The co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, waited tables at Pizza Hut while in high school. He worked his way to waiter after being a dishwasher.

Ohanian recently told The New York Times that when he was a waiter, he learned what he needed to know regarding customer service.

Barbara Corcoran, the star of Shark Tank, also found similar values while working as a waitress when she was in her 20s. She told CNBC Make It that you learn more about everything in waitressing than any other job. If you want to prepare for entrepreneurship, the best job you can take is where you serve others.

As for Jeff’s time working at McDonald’s, he has some advice for young people: Make sure you focus on learning life lessons no matter where you work, even if you’re just flipping burgers or cleaning restrooms.

The point is, you’re there to learn about responsibility, and any job teaches you that if you’re serious. While formal education is essential, you shouldn’t underestimate what you learn by serving others and working retail or fast-food.


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