scorecardJeff Bezos says work-life balance is a 'debilitating phrase,' and that work and life are actually a circle
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Jeff Bezos says work-life balance is a 'debilitating phrase,' and that work and life are actually a circle

Katie Canales,Zoë Bernard   

Jeff Bezos says work-life balance is a 'debilitating phrase,' and that work and life are actually a circle
Tech2 min read
  • Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, thinks "work-life balance" is a "debilitating phrase."
  • The billionaire and former Amazon CEO instead taught employees that work and life are a circle.

Jeff Bezos doesn't like the phrase "work-life balance" and has said in the past that he views work and life as a circle.

The Amazon founder said in 2018, at an event hosted by Business Insider's parent company, that he tried to teach employees about "work-life harmony," rather than a balance.

"I get asked about work-life balance all the time," Bezos told Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner. "And my view is, that's a debilitating phrase because it implies there's a strict trade-off."

Bezos added: "It actually is a circle. It's not a balance."

In a separate interview at Vox's Code Conference in 2016, Bezos said: "I find that when I am happy at work, I come home more energized. I'm a better husband, a better dad, and when I'm happy at home, I come in a better boss, a better colleague." (Bezos was married to MacKenzie Scott at the time.)

Bezos has also said many people "have very high standards for how they want their work life to be."

"If you can get your work life to where you enjoy half of it, that is amazing. Very few people ever achieve that," he said in a 2020 interview in Mumbai, India, with the actor Shah Rukh Khan and the filmmaker Zoya Akhtar.

"The truth is, everything comes with overhead. That's reality. Everything comes with pieces that you don't like," he added at the time.

Bezos' so-called work-life circle has changed since he made the remarks. The billionaire stepped down from his role as CEO of the e-commerce giant in July 2021. Bezos was replaced by Andy Jassy, his former Amazon Web Services chief, and directed his focus to other endeavors, such as space exploration with his company Blue Origin, philanthropy, and a jet-setting social life with his fiancée, Lauren Sánchez.

Bezos, the second-richest person in the world, has taken a nontraditional approach to work: He has said he makes time for breakfast every morning with his family, doesn't set his alarm before going to bed, schedules surprisingly few meetings, and sets aside a few minutes every day to wash his own dishes.

Katie Canales and Zoë Bernard previously contributed to this article.

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