What Jeff Bezos’ First Job At McDonald’s taught him

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Believe it or not, the richest man in history and founder and CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos got his start at McDonald’s. He worked his first job as a 16-year-old in a McDonald’s kitchen, and admittedly, learned a lot from the experience.

He told Cody Teets, vice president of McDonald’s, all about his job at McDonald’s in an interview for a book she was writing titled, “Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers That Began at McDonald’s,” Business Insider reports

All these years and billions of dollars later, he still remembers his first week at work:

“My first week on the job, a 5-gallon, wall-mounted ketchup dispenser got stuck open in the kitchen and dumped a prodigious quantity of ketchup into every hard-to-reach kitchen crevice. Since I was the new guy, they handed me the cleaning solution and said, ‘Get going!'” he said.

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And being thrust into these situations definitely taught him a lot. He gained a few tips about managing a staff from the position:

“The most challenging thing was keeping everything going at the right pace during a rush. The manager at my McDonald’s was excellent. He had a lot of teenagers working for him, and he kept us focused even while we had fun,” he told Teets.

So, for Bezos, focus was key. And at Amazon, he’s chosen to direct much of his focus on the customer.

When asked what he learned about customer service from his time at McDonald’s he told Fast Company, “I learned that it’s really hard.”

This probably explains why “customer obsession” is the first top of 14 “Leadership Principles” for Amazon.

The Amazon website reads, “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

Yep — he picked up that business tip from none other than Mickey D’s!

And he’s not the only one to get a lot of business know-how from a job at McDonald’s. Teets’ book also features stories from successful people such as Katie Couric and Jay Leno, along with Bezos. The book, ironically, is available for purchase on Amazon.


Bezos stressed the fact that you can learn a lot from any job, if you apply yourself:

“You can learn responsibility in any job if you take it seriously. You learn a lot as a teenager working at McDonald’s. It’s different from what you learn in school. Don’t underestimate the value of that!”

Because yes — even someone who got their start at a McDonald’s can go on to do great things.

About the Author

Augusta Statz

Augusta Statz holds a B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She's an avid writer with a genuine sense of curiosity. She feels the best way to absorb the world around you is through fashion, art and food, so that’s what she spends most of her time writing about. More.

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