The girl who conquered billionaire Jeff Bezos after only two questions


Ann Hiatt has worked in Silicon Valley for 15 years, is an executive business partner for Amazon owners Jeff Bezos, Marissa Mayer (Yahoo) and Eric Schmidt (Google).

Currently, she has established a consulting company, sharing the knowledge learned at Amazon, Google for customers who are CEOs of businesses around the world.

Ann Hiatt was an executive business partner for Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. Photo: CNBC.

In early November, on her personal page, Ann shared the story of her first job application and was recruited by Jeff Bezos in 2002.

Ann Hiatt grew up in Redmond, Washington. Most of her friends’ parents are leaders in tech companies. In her eyes, although they earn a lot of money, they have an unhappy and unhappy life, so they decided to apply to business, not computer science like you.

Graduating from college, Ann Hiatt sent her CV to apply for a low-level assistant position at Amazon. At the time, she had no acquaintances in the company, no computer science degree and absolutely no experience of working for a CEO, so she was ready to be disqualified.

Ann Hiatt in turn passed a series of interviews, including face-to-face interviews with senior managers.

A few months later, Ann Hiatt received no reply and began to lose hope. One day in early October 2002, a recruitment officer of Amzon called to ask her to participate in the next round of interviews. The caller promised this was the final interview. However, this person did not disclose the interviewer this time is Jeff Bezos.

Ann Hiatt felt comfortable walking into the interview. As she was sitting in the room, Jeff Bezos walked in. He started the interview by promising to ask only two questions and the first one would be a funny one. Bezos opened a pen and wrote on the board: “I’ll do the math. I want you to calculate the number of windows in Seattle.”

Ann Hiatt felt dizzy. She tried to calm herself and reminded herself to think about why Bezos asked her that question. He guessed, he wanted to see his way of thinking and perhaps wanted her to break a complex problem down into more manageable steps.

Ann began answering Bezos’ question by estimating the number of residents of Seattle at one million (a number close to reality), with the aim of rounding the number up. She then says that on average each resident will have a house, a car and an office or school – all with glass doors. So she suggested calculating based on that average.

In the process of conversing with Benzos and watching him fill in the numbers on the whiteboard, Ann felt as if a century had passed. She was thrilled when he wrote the last lines and said: “This number seems to be correct”.

Then, Benzos asked Ann the second question: “What are your career goals?”. Ann said, Amazon is an ambitious company it has proven. Amazon’s strengths are in areas where she personally wants to develop herself. She explained that she did not know what an assistant would have to do, but understood the importance of always being daring and taking risks.

Ann said that so far, she understands why those are Bezos’ only two questions. “He sought to measure my potential by asking probing questions about whether I had the courage to run at his pace,” Ann said. At the end of the interview, both agreed that Ann was inexperienced and needed a lot of effort.

After the interview, Bezos showed her a table three feet away from where he sat. It’s the closest desk to Bezos at Amazon.

It took many years for Ann to understand why Bezos had given her such a great opportunity. “He wanted the people around him to work without pressure. He created people who were ambitious, creative and determined, making up for the lack of expertise,” she said.

Ann Hiatt said that since this recruiting experience, she has always aimed to be someone who needs to be restrained, not pushed. She also looks for people who have the ability to inspire, challenge her to do things far beyond her current abilities. That helps Ann find satisfaction in her work life, more than anything else.

Thuy Linh (According to CNBC)

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