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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

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

7 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

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