CNBC make it 2024-05-21 02:00:51

Amazon CEO: An ‘embarrassing’ amount of your success depends on this one skill

The trick to getting ahead at work isn’t being the fastest learner or the smartest in the room — it’s having a positive attitude, says Amazon CEO Andy Jassy.

Jassy, who took the top job at Amazon after Jeff Bezos stepped down in 2021, shared his “best career advice” in a new interview with LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky. 

“I think an embarrassing amount of how well you do, particularly in your 20s, has to do with attitude,” Jassy, 56, said. 

It’s not just about being cheerful, he explained. Having a positive attitude means you work well on a team and honor deadlines, among other strengths. 

If you have the right mindset, Jassy said you should be able to confidently answer “yes” to the following questions: 

  • Do you work hard? 
  • Are you more can-do than naysaying? 
  • Do you do what you said you were going to do? 
  • Can you work in a team? 

These strategies are “so simple” and yet often overlooked, he said. 

“People would be surprised [at] how infrequently people have great attitudes,” he added. “I think it makes a big difference.”

Enthusiasm can enable you to take advantage of opportunities like stretch assignments and training programs because you’ll feel more confident stepping out of your comfort zone and trust that you can tackle any challenges that arise.

Jassy was just 29 when he joined Amazon as a marketing manager in 1997. Five years into his career there, he was invited to be Bezos’s first “shadow” advisor, a quasi-chief of staff who joins all of the CEO’s meetings. 

Several of his colleagues at Amazon told him not to accept the offer, but Jassy said he chose to focus on the positive aspects of the job — and by taking it, he was able to strengthen his leadership skills. 

“I just figured if it wasn’t something that worked out either for Jeff or for me if I tried it a few months, I could always try something else, but if it did work out, I hadn’t ever heard of another job like this,” he said. “And it was just an incredible experience.” 

It’s important to note that Amazon’s leadership has come under fire for its treatment of warehouse employees during the Covid-19 pandemic and for allegedly fostering a harsh workplace culture.

Jassy has previously acknowledged that the company could improve its treatment of employees. “I think if you have a large group of people like we do … it’s almost like a small country,” he said during the GeekWire Summit in 2021. “There are lots of things you could do better.”

Regardless of where you’re at in your career, having a positive attitude can help you build stronger relationships in the workplace. “You pick up advocates and mentors much more quickly,” Jassy said. “People want those people to succeed.”

Research has affirmed the benefits of a positive attitude in the workplace — that it can make you more productive, boost creativity and prevent burnout, among other advantages.

“There’s so many things that you can’t control in your work life,” Jassy said. “But you can control your attitude.”

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This 3-word phrase will stop people from interrupting you, says public speaking expert

Getting interrupted is a fact of life and whether it happens at work or elsewhere, it’s frustrating. It limits your ability to express yourself, to contribute, to shine, and to feel good about yourself.

Ultimately, if you can’t speak up, you can lose out professionally and emotionally.

So how can you fight back? Silently, firmly raise your finger or hand and say this magic three-word phrase.

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to becoming a master communicator and public speaker

“Trevor, I’m speaking.”

Of course, you can improvise — not everyone is named Trevor — but however you phrase it, it’s important to say the person’s name and stop them in their tracks politely and economically. No you don’t, Trevor! Bam.  

Handy as this phrase may be, it’s important to reduce the chances that anyone will interrupt you in the first place.

Try the following tips to learn to speak in a more authoritative way at work and even at home.

3 tips for speaking in a more authoritative way

1. Come prepared

Speaking in public requires forethought. If you wish for people to listen, you need to hold their attention by telling them why they should listen before bombarding them with information.

Prior to any meeting, take a moment to write down your thoughts. Next, figure out the best way to state them. Put the takeaway up top. Tell your audience immediately why your words are important before getting into details. Never dawdle on the way to making your point.  

Bad example: “I’ve been getting a lot of feedback about the, ah, well, just some concerns about, oh, for example, carryover, and some of the other reporting categories that are affected by the new accounting rules? Well, and also with regards to the CAPEX reporting definitions — there are just some implications in terms of we’re gonna need to address the risks.” 

Good example: “I’m worried about the new accounting rules. We have a month to develop some new processes to meet them or we’re going to face some expensive risks.”

2. Get the room’s attention

Public speaking is all about thinking of your audience. Maybe you converse quietly at home, in your comfort zone, but if your normal way of speaking is holding you back at work, it’s time to evolve.

Practicing enunciating and speaking more intentionally by removing filler words like “um,” “ah,” “like,” and “y’know.” Also avoid upspeak — when your voice pitch rises at the end of statements, making them sound like questions.

The more commanding your speech becomes, the more valued it will be.

If your meetings are orderly, it may be enough to silently raise your finger or arm to create an opening to speak. If your meetings tend to be chaotic free-for-alls, however, you may need to stand up and deliver a firm, well-timed, “I’d like to talk.”

3. If you can’t win, change the rules of the game

Once the meeting is over, approach your manager, voice your concerns, and suggest some changes. Perhaps a round-robin approach might work. Insist that one speaker at a time should be heard and interruptions should not be tolerated. 

Another tactic is to join forces with your colleagues and enlist their help to back each other up. Next time a Trevor interrupts, you can jump in: “Maryann was speaking, Trevor. I’d like to hear what she has to say.”

If you’ve spent years not being heard, these steps might feel scary. Consider the practice of these ideas to be a form of therapy. Changing your behavior might cause anxiety, but the goal is to get onto a new path at work and in your personal life.

John Bowe is a speech trainer, award-winning journalist, and author of “I Have Something to Say: Mastering the Art of Public Speaking in an Age of Disconnection.”  He has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, McSweeney’s, This American Life, and many others. Visit his website here.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Preregister today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

What life is like in the world’s happiest country, from a 28-year-old who left the U.S. for Finland

When I first visited Finland back in 2017, I was enchanted by the marshmallow-like trees, picturesque landscapes and lakes, and the season of midnight sun — but it wasn’t just the country’s natural beauty that impressed me.

Public spaces and homes were outfitted with a variety of recycling options. During my trip, I didn’t witness any homelessness. Kids as young as six-years-old safely took public transportation on their own, and I saw many senior citizens navigate their walkers to the grocery store with ease.  

Finland’s society seemed like it was built on a foundation of both independence and care, and that stayed with me. My now-husband is from Finland, and in 2019, when he had an opportunity to pursue his professional basketball career back home, I jumped at the chance to join him there.

Today, he is still playing basketball and I’m an entrepreneur. 

At the beginning of 2024, after several years of working as a content marketing specialist, I launched my own marketing firm. My clients are Nordic companies in the tourism and retail industries. In my corporate job, my income was about $4,348 per month. Now that I’m working for myself, I made about $21,739 in the first quarter of the year.

I feel so fulfilled by my life in Finland. Here are the three biggest reasons why I love living here. 

Life is organized around being in nature

Being in nature is a daily or weekly lifestyle staple here, and many Finnish cities are located near well-marked outdoor spaces. It is very common, for example, to cut through and use forest trails if you are running errands by bike or on foot. One of my favorite places is the beautiful Tapanila forest, which is about 100 yards behind our home.

Then, if you walk 100 yards in front of our house, you arrive at beautiful Lake Vesijärvi. We boat on it in the summer and ice skate on it during the winter. My favorite coffee shop in the area is by another lake, Kahvila Kariranta, which I bike to most days. 

Finnish people don’t let inclement weather affect their enjoyment of nature. Even in the deepest, darkest parts of winter, I’ve enjoyed walking, biking and skiing. I’ve even gone swimming in a hole in a frozen lake. It was incredibly refreshing.

In the U.S., I would mostly avoid being outdoors. I lived in Florida and it was very hot and humid all the time, so I counted down the moments until I was in an air-conditioned car or store. I would also not go into a forest by myself back in the States. The prospect of that feels more dangerous than restful.

These daily doses of nature have improved my mental health. When I’m in the forest, my mind slows down and I breathe more deeply. It really does feel like a form of therapy.

People here tend to stay active well into old age

I’ve found that it is easy to maintain healthy habits here because there is a culture of lifelong fitness. For example, when I went cross-country skiing for the first time, I remember watching as a three-year-old went by with his mom, followed by a man who looked to be in his 70s.

Even though I was unsteady on my feet, I still felt so welcomed and encouraged during this experience. That has been the case whenever I have tried any new activity since moving here. 

Since Finnish people seem to just mind their own business, they don’t really look at you with any kind of judgment if you’re struggling to learn something new. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. There is a real sense of possibility that comes from seeing people try something outside their comfort zone, without fear.

In many cities, there are also organizations that arrange sporting clubs and lessons for people of all ages. I’ve done CrossFit, functional training in the forest and I also teach a weekly spin class. These activities have introduced me to some great friends.

Finns emphasize societal well-being

I’ve been struck by how much everyone seems to care about each other here. It seems like things are designed to make life easier and to help people thrive.

New parents have generous leave packages at work. Taking time off is required by law, and there is a significant culture of pay transparency. Every year, the Finnish government shares everyone’s taxable income, and anyone can take a look.

Higher education is free for citizens or those with specific resident permits. Public transportation is functional and convenient — and parents with a stroller can even use buses or trains for free. Recycling is easy to understand and accessible. Public healthcare is affordable and often free of charge.

All this infrastructure makes me feel safe.

Being from the Southern USA, one of the biggest things that surprised me when I got here was how quiet it was in malls and public spaces. I was also struck by the lack of socializing, smiles and small talk in public or with strangers. While that might seem chilly on the surface, I’ve found that when you get to know Finns, they are warm and genuine. 

Finland is the first place I lived after college and the first place my husband and I lived together. I think that being surrounded for the last five years by a society that values slow living, nature, self-sufficiency and staying active has shaped me in significant ways. Since I’ve moved here, I’m so proud of the person that I’ve become. 

Jade Ventoniemi is an American who has called Finland home for the last five years. She is a former NCAA basketball player, a content creator and the founder of a marketing firm called Bright Soul Oy. Jade lives in Lahti, Finland with her husband and their mini poodle. In her free time, she loves to be outdoors, and jumps at the chance to swim in a frozen lake or explore a local forest. You can follow her journey and life in Finland on Instagram or TikTok.

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U.S. Dollar figures converted from Euros on May 17, 2024.

31-year-old joined the Air Force at 18—now he has $500,000 saved up to retire in 7 years

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Millennial Money series, which details how people around the world earn, spend and save their money.

In 2011, like many 18-year-olds, Darren Thedieck wasn’t sure what he wanted. He thought briefly about studying to become a dentist, “but I was nowhere close to that,” he says. Plus, he was worried about the prospect of racking up student debt.

Knowing he wanted to travel the world and seeking financial stability, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, hoping to maybe get into the medical field that way.

Instead, he was encouraged to work in IT — a potentially lucrative field in the private sector — at an E-1 Basic Airman’s base pay of about $1,400 a month.

Thedieck, now 31, is still in the military, and has gotten an awful lot of what he’s wanted ever since.

Travel the world? Check. After basic training and a stint in Las Vegas, Thedieck took assignments in England, South Korea, Germany and his current posting in Aviano, Italy — about an hour’s drive from Venice.

He’s gotten financial stability too. Thedieck has steadily risen in rank and pay over his 12-plus years in the military while dutifully stashing away cash in a variety of investment accounts. Between his base pay and allowances, he pulled in $9,134 in March, which works out to an annual income of about $110,000.

He’s been slowly but surely working toward a degree in finance using military tuition assistance, and in 2017 began teaching free personal finance classes for fellow servicemembers online and in person.  

Another person he helped with money management: his wife Naudia, who he met in Germany in 2021. At the time, she had about $25,000 in student, credit card and automotive debt.

“Me being a finance guy, I kind of got that conversation going early on in our relationship. We got together and made a plan to cut unnecessary expenses,” Thedieck says. “And although we didn’t completely join our finances together at that point, we started working on a monthly budget for her in order to enable her to aggressively pay down her debt.”

By the time the couple got married last April — a destination wedding in Denmark — they were debt free.

The couple welcomed their first child in February, and Thedieck already has bright plans for the future. His investments currently total more than $500,000 — a figure he hopes to push to $1 million in the next five years.

A few years after that, he’ll be eligible for retirement from the military with a pension worth half his base pay. Early retirement at age 38 will just be the start of his second act.

Saving on a military salary

Thedieck was interested in saving and investing long before he joined the Air Force.

“Our family didn’t have a whole lot of money coming up,” he says. “I had to see my mom struggle at times financially. Part of that inspired me to do better for myself financially.”

By 16, he was working at grocery stores and reading about how he could get the money he saved to grow. “Some of my early influences were through books — Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, figures of that nature,” he says.

Though he admits he didn’t necessarily start with the titans of the investing world. “I went to the bookstore and picked up, plain and simple, ‘Stock Investing for Dummies.’”

At 18, he opened a Roth individual retirement account, and soon began maximizing his contributions. He also began contributing to his Thrift Savings Plan — the government’s version of a 401(k).

Thedieck credits the prodigious amount he’s invested in part to the way that he’s compensated. “The pay structure in the military allows me to aggressively save because a lot of the income that I get in the form of allowances aren’t taxed,” he says. “It’s very tax-advantageous to serve in the military.”

In March, Thiedeck’s base pay was about $4,650. From there, he sees deductions for federal taxes, Medicare, Social Security and group life insurance. He also receives three more sources of income in the form of entitlements: about $460 for food, $3,294 for housing, utilities and home maintenance and a $729 cost-of-living allowance.

When you live abroad, those allowances can go an awfully long way, Thedieck says.

“Cost of living in Italy is actually pretty affordable in comparison to most parts of the United States,” he says. “In rent alone, we’re in a pretty nice house — a four-bed, two-bath — and we pay roughly 1,650 which translates to about $1,800 [per month].”

How he spends his money

The low cost of living has helped Darren and Naudia keep their budget under control, but it’s taken planning as well.

Naudia left her job at Service Credit Union when the couple moved to Italy in 2023, both to prepare for the arrival of their child and to avoid working visa red tape in a new country. Moving to one salary has made things a little trickier, but still manageable, Thedieck says.

“That’s forced us to be even more intentional with our finances and how we spend and save,” he says. “Now that we’re down to one income, we actually conduct monthly financial meetings as a family.”

Here’s where their money went in March 2024.

  • Housing and utilities: $2,279 for rent, Wi-Fi, electricity and home fuel
  • Savings and investments: $2,230 deposited into his TSP and taxable brokerage account
  • Groceries: $737
  • Discretionary: $683 on household items, wellness treatments, entertainment and travel
  • Dining: $543 on meals, coffee and drinks
  • Car repair: $350
  • Gas: $255
  • Insurance: $145 on health, dental, auto and life policies
  • Subscriptions: $50 for Apple, Disney, Netflix and Spotify
  • Phones: $24

At a glance, a few expenses on that list feel low while others seem to be downright missing.

No debt paydown? Thedieck and his wife own their vehicles outright. Naudia is debt-free after aggressively paying down her loans, and Thedieck never had any debt in the first place. He also pays off his credit card balance multiple times per month.

He’s been working toward his bachelor’s degree using $4,500 a year worth of tuition assistance rather than paying out of pocket or using his GI Bill. As a result, he may be able to transfer his benefit to his child, who could attend college on the military’s dime.

The cost of raising a child is partially reflected in the couple’s household and grocery bills, but other baby expenses have been very low thanks to the generosity of the community on base. They still haven’t gone through all the diapers Naudia received at her baby shower.

“We have spent roughly $500 of our own money on our baby, from a 3-in-1 combo stroller to various smaller items,” Thedieck says. “Everything else has been received through our registry and friends’ donations.” 

Of course, the couple is willing to spend on things that matter to them. Throughout his career in the military, Thedieck has been willing to spend on travel, and says the budget gets a little looser when he and Naudia are on the road together.

“We want to make the most of those moments and not think so much about how much it costs to do things, but put more value on the experiences,” Thedieck says. The same goes for spending on health and wellness.

They’re even willing to extend the food budget if it means indulging in a few more macchiatos or savoring the local cuisine. For Thedieck, it’s all about finding a balance between spending and saving.

“I understood from an early age that I wanted to prepare a secure future for myself, especially in anticipation of a family,” he says. “But I also realize the importance of living in the now and making the most of that. So I tried to travel as much as I could, while also setting myself up for the future.”

Future plans and FIRE 

For many savers, “the future” is code for retirement, and for Thedieck it is, too. He’s just planning for it to arrive sooner than most.

Thedieck is aiming for FIRE, short for financial independence retire early.

Adherents to the FIRE movement aim to stash a large portion of their income into investment accounts. The goal is to reach their so-called FIRE number — the amount in your portfolio from which you can safely withdraw a certain percentage, often 4%, in perpetuity each year to totally cover your living expenses.

As a member of the military, Thedieck’s road looks a little different since he’ll have an extra source of income in the form of a half-base-pay pension.

If he wanted, Thedieck could supplement that income with withdrawals from his investing accounts. He currently invests $1,300 a month into a taxable brokerage account and another $930 into his TSP. All told, his mix of investments is currently worth more than $500,000.

Right now, though, the plan is for that money to provide a financial “cushion” for the family, Thedieck says. Instead of full retirement after military life, both he and Naudia plan to take off in a new direction.

Naudia plans to go back to work. Thedieck, meanwhile, hopes to launch his financial classes as a small business while also taking on a new rank: stay-at-home dad.

“I’m going to run my online finance business for a little bit. That’ll allow me that benefit to stay at home, run that, but also just kind of hang out and relax and enjoy my life a little bit more, just by taking care of our children as well as the household,” Thedieck says.

Until then, Thedieck and his family will go wherever the Air Force stations him. Once he retires, though, the plan is to move back to Europe, where cost of living is low and opportunities to travel are abundant.

While Portugal holds appeal as a home base, “we had the idea to move every six months to a year to new locations in Europe,” Thedieck says. “We’ve talked about living in London for a year, living in Dublin, Ireland, for a year, places like that, so that we can kind of get a feel for what the life is like.”

The experience, the couple hopes, will be enriching not only for them, but for their child, along with any more they might have on the way.

“While it might be a little bit more frequent moving for them, it’ll really offer them so many diverse opportunities that American children just don’t get by being home.”

What’s your budget breakdown? Share your story with us for a chance to be featured in a future installment.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Preregister today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

Barbara Corcoran’s No. 1 piece of advice for people in their 20s: ‘Always choose the best boss’

With graduation season in full swing, Barbara Corcoran has some career advice for emerging professionals.

As you weigh job prospects and potential roles, “always choose the best boss,” Corcoran, a millionaire real estate entrepreneur and investor, said in a TikTok video last week.

It can be tempting to choose a job solely based on salary or a company’s big and flashy reputation — but those things won’t matter if you and your boss are incompatible, Corcoran explained.

“Don’t take any job based on how much it pays,” she said. “Having a good boss will have more to do with your happiness at work than actually what you do with your day.”

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to acing your interview and landing your dream job

Corcoran learned the lesson from experience: She had several bad bosses in her 20s who didn’t give recognition, lacked integrity and undermined her work, she told Yahoo Finance in 2019.

This behavior can make the workplace seem dreadful and contribute to burnout, she added in a 2019 episode of her podcast, “Business Unusual.”

“I’ve never met anyone who worked for a bad boss and enjoyed their job. Or, for that matter, ever got ahead, no matter how much they liked what they did,” she said. “So finding work that you like to do is the easy part. Finding the right boss is the more difficult part.”

“If you have a bad boss for a long time, it can [damage] your ego,” Corcoran added. “I’ve had bad bosses, I know what that feels like. It can make you feel less important and less respectful to yourself … it’s a dangerous situation to be in.”

How to spot a good boss

Three common traits stand out among the best bosses, according to CEOs and workplace culture experts:

  1. Empathy
  2. Adaptability
  3. Initiative

Having bosses who can put themselves in your shoes — and show genuine kindness and care for their employees — is crucial for job satisfaction, according to Caitlin Duffy, director of research at consulting firm Gartner.

This is especially true in today’s post-pandemic workforce, as “employees now expect leaders at work to address all of their personal needs that have become more complex and sensitive over the last few years,” Duffy told Make It in 2022.

Meanwhile, adaptability and initiative go hand in hand. When a challenge arises at work, a good boss will assess the situation and make the best decision for both the company and the people who work there, executive coach Rohan Verma told Make It in February.

Bosses with these qualities can make even the most demanding job more fulfilling and worthwhile, Corcoran noted.

“It’s the person you work for who’s going to determine whether you’re happy or miserable at your job,” she said.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank,” which features Barbara Corcoran as a panelist.

Want to land your dream job? Take CNBC’s online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers really look for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. Use discount code NEWGRAD to get 50% off from 5/1/24 to 6/30/24.