What the rest of us can learn from Bezos’ big mistake … and other lessons in ‘career self-care’

A new book cites Jeff Bezos’ push for financial incentives in Amazon’s HQ2 search as an example of “the dirty little secret about success.” (File Photo / Economic Club of Washington, D.C. / Gary Cameron)

In many ways, Jeff Bezos would seem to have it all. But when is enough enough?

In a new book, “Career Self-Care: Find Your Happiness, Success, and Fulfillment at Work,” Inc. magazine columnist and Seattle-area author Minda Zetlin points to the Amazon founder’s push for financial incentives in the company’s search for a second headquarters as a prime example of “the dirty little secret about success.”

After Amazon’s choice of Queens, N.Y., backfired due to objections over financial incentives, a report by Bloomberg News revealed Bezos and Amazon were originally motivated by envy over incentives that Elon Musk and Tesla received from Nevada for their gigafactory, despite much different circumstances.

Zetlin sees a lesson here for the rest of us.

“We spend our whole lives pursuing success. But where is that spot, exactly?” she says. “If you’re the richest person in the world, which he was at that time, and you’re still not satisfied, you’re still not happy, you’re still jealous of somebody else, it seems to illustrate that there is no there there.”

Zetlin’s book draws on her reporting, interviews and personal experiences to examine self-care with the underlying assumption that, for many of us, work and the rest of our lives are now inevitably intertwined.

The book covers a variety of topics through this lens:

  • Bill Gates and Microsoft show how toxic leaders and companies can evolve and improve, even as recent reports illustrate the lingering effects of the cultures they created.
  • Seattle entrepreneur Jessica Loché-Eggert‘s experiences show the challenges encountered by moms in the workplace, and the power of taking control of one’s own destiny.
  • Zetlin details some of her own struggles with personal and career self-care, and also shares tools that she uses to manage her career and life, such as the techniques of “power-journaling.”

But ultimately, Zetlin makes it clear that the key is not some new time-management trick, but rather the ability to step back and change your mindset, including the way you value yourself and your career holistically.

Minda Zetlin, author of “Career Self-Care: Find Your Happiness, Success, and Fulfillment at Work.”

“We think of our work and our lives in opposition, and that idea is implicit in the term work-life balance. You’ve got two things struggling against each other, and they have to balance, and a lot of times it does feel that way,” she says.

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“The fact is, it goes both ways,” she adds. “Who I am professionally informs who I am as a human being. Who I am as a human being informs who I am professionally, and those two things don’t have to fight it out.”

Minda Zetlin joins us on this episode of the GeekWire Podcast to talk about these topics and more from her book, “Career Self-Care: Find Your Happiness, Success, and Fulfillment at Work.”

Listen above, or subscribe to GeekWire in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Audio editing by Curt Milton. Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell.

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