And in one of them, he has a special library with two fireplaces.
This week, his library and fireplaces were a topic of discussion at Amazon’s inaugural re:MARS AI, robotics and space conference taking place this week in Las Vegas. The conference was born out of Bezos own private, invite-only robotics conference that takes place annually in Palm Springs. This Las Vegas event was the first one open to the public.
During a talk on Wednesday by Amazon senior exec Jeff Wilke, the CEO of Amazons’ enormous consumer ecommerce business, Wilke described Bezos’ library like this:
“In Jeff’s library, there are two fireplaces that face each other. On one side of the library, over the fireplace, he has the word Builders, and under that is all of the books in his collection that are authored by builders. And on the other side of the library, it says Dreamers and he has books by Dreamers. This is a very good representation of what we are trying to do here – to bring together the builders and the dreamers – as we envision the future.”
On Thursday, Bezos took the stage for a fireside chat with another Amazon exec, Jenny Freshwater, director of forecasting who immediately asked him about the fireplaces.
And his explanation was kind of a sweet way of looking at how human creativity can be nourished.
“The dreamers come first and they inspire,” he said. This includes science fiction authors. For instance, he noted that Alexa “was inspired by the the Star Trek computer.”
“So the dreamers come and the builders get inspired by them. And the builders build a new foundation that the dreamers can stand on and dream more,” he said. “The dreamers can’t continue to dream until the builders build. They stand on each other’s shoulders.”
But Bezos said that these builders and dreamers are not two different groups of people. “Everybody is a dreamer and everybody is a builder,” he said. “We all have that capacity. It’s a very human capacity to dream and to build and get that spinning.”
Looked at that way, the Bezos philosophy could serve a practical guide for anyone feeling stuck.
If it’s hard to build something new in your life, instead of turning your energy to tinkering or iterating or otherwise protecting what you last built, it may be time to dream a new dream. What may be possible now with the last thing you created? And if you’re having trouble dreaming, it may be time to work on turning your last big dream into a reality, to roll up your sleeves and build.