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Jeff Bezos answers question from David Rubenstein. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos gave a master class on life and business onstage in Washington last night, with this keeper advice: "All of my best decisions in business and in life have been made with heart, intuition, guts, ... not analysis."

"If you can make a decision with analysis, you should do so. But it turns out in life that your most important decisions are always made with instinct and intuition."
— Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
  • "Everything I have ever done has started small," Bezos added, drawing laughter at the 32nd anniversary dinner of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.:
  • "Amazon [now with 500,000 employees] ... started with five people."
  • "It's hard to remember for you guys, but for me it's like yesterday I was driving the packages to the post office myself, and hoping one day we could afford a forklift."

Amazon's president, CEO and chairman was interviewed at the Washington Hilton for 70 minutes by David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group (one of the world’s largest private equity firms), and president of the Economic Club.

  • After a long answer, Rubenstein joked: "I'm not used to cutting off the richest man in the world."

Bezos, 54, owns The Washington Post, where today he'll cut the ribbon on a newsroom expansion to accommodate 850 journalists and 350 engineers. He drew applause with his defense of the press:

  • "What the president should say is, 'This is right. This is good. I'm glad I'm being scrutinized.' And that would be so secure and confident."
  • "But it's really dangerous to demonize the media. ... It's dangerous to say that they're the enemy of the people."

Turning to business best practices, Bezos said he sets his first meeting at 10 a.m.:

  • "I go to bed early and I get up early. I like to putter in the morning. So I like to read the newspaper. I like to have coffee. I like have breakfast with my kids before they go to school."
  • "I do my high-IQ meetings before lunch. Like anything that's going to be really mentally challenging, that's a 10 o'clock meeting. And by 5 p.m., I'm like, 'I can't think about that today. Let's try this again tomorrow at 10 a.m.'"

Bezos said he gets eight hours of sleep:

  • "I prioritize it. ... I think better. I have more energy. My mood is better."
  • "As a senior executive, you get paid to make a small number of high-quality decisions. Your job is not to make thousands of decisions every day."
  • "Is that really worth it if the quality of those decisions might be lower because you're tired or grouchy?"

"All of our senior executives operate the same way I do. They work in the future, they live in the future."

  • "Right now, I'm working on a quarter that's going to reveal itself in 2021 sometime."
  • "If I make, like, three good decisions a day, that's enough."
  • "Warren Buffett says he's good if he makes three good decisions a year." [Laughter].
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Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
4 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

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