You Aren’t Criticized for Things You Fail to Try

 A subtle but powerful insight from Jeff Bezos, founder of, via this Q&A in Portfolio:

One of your big initiatives, a search engine called A9, fell flat. What happened? If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table. Companies are rarely criticized for the things that they failed to try. But they are, many times, criticized for things they tried and failed at.


Did you ever get criticized for some­thing you tried that worked out? When we pioneered customer reviews, it was incredibly controversial. I got letters from publishers saying, “You don’t understand your business. You make money when you sell things. Take down those negative customer reviews.” We’ve never done anything of real value that wasn’t at least a little bit controversial when we did it. But if you want to be a pioneer, you have to be comfortable being misunderstood.

3 comments on “You Aren’t Criticized for Things You Fail to Try
  • An absolutely reliable test of an idea having potential is to count the number of self-proclaimed ‘we-have-your-best-interests-at-heart’ people tell you off for it. The greater the numbers, the more likely that the idea will fly.

    Did the ‘community’ thing that Amazon was trying to create with reviews not become Web 2.0?

  • Very true stuff, & the surprising thing is that years afterwards, your critics won’t remember ever having said how dumb you were. They’ll probably think they were a great help.

    Also, people who really do have your best interests at heart tend to listen carefully to your ideas before trashing them.

  • Such an interesting point, Ben! I’d like to share another I recently learned.
    I just finished reading James Arthur Ray’s newest book, Harmonic Wealth, and I had to share this concept he has that I think makes so much sense: LIVING FROM THE OUTCOME (Page 322). James says that most people live toward the outcome, meaning you are living like you don’t have it yet. He says you should shift your thinking so that you are LIVING FROM THE OUTCOME and thus sending out the energy to the world that you already have it. Think, feel, and act like you’ve already made it and the universe will say “Your wish is my command.”

    For me, that meant acting like I was more valuable as an individual – acting like a $500 a day earner instead of a $150 a day earner (no more reality TV marathons!) and acting like a thin and fit woman instead of a slightly overweight and sometimes lazy woman (goodbye Ranch Doritos!). Honestly, in the two weeks since I put down the book, things have started changing. And I think it really comes down to that one concept.

    Check out the Harmonic Wealth site and link to the book:

    – A James Ray Fan

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *