“No, Thank You, Mr. Pecker”: Critical Thinking & A Cool Head From Bezos

(ed note: No, that’s not a bald joke – I mean it!)

Oh baby. The National Enquirer is in the headlines, instead of headlines.

You’ve probably seen it already Jeff Bezos, billionaire founder of Amazon, clapped back hard at the tabloid and its parent company, AMI, when they attempted to blackmail him with publishing dirty pictures from his affair. What’d he do? Oh, just publish their attempts at extortion publicly, complete with an editorializing post detailing the situation.

Beyond this being some juicy news for us to read about, what can we learn from this as professionals?

Bezos played it like a boss. He kept a cool head, used critical thinking, and assessed his options.

First, Bezos recognized how to deal with a blackmailer (or a school yard bully). Give in, and they’ll just be back for more. Yes, he has endless money to back up his challenge, but that was part of his analysis. He knows he has the money to take on AMI. That was part of his calculations.

Next, he figured out how to hit them where it hurts – publicly. He published their emails to him verbatim, including the list of salacious photos they claim to have. By stealing their thunder, when or if these photos come out, they won’t be as shocking or scandalous as they may have been if we’d never heard of them before.

He also calculated the personal embarrassment of having these photos described or leaked in his fight back, and decided it was worth it.

And it probably was. In these times, when virtually every celebrity has had a leaked nude, and some celebrities got their fame directly through nudes, the sight of an ankle, or something higher up the leg, like the crotch region, has lost some of its power. It no longer bestows instant negativity on the person in the photo, but now is just another dick pic in the endless parade.

And finally, he was clever enough to know that he couldn’t publish this on the pages of the Washington Post. Instead, he turned to the open platform Medium, where anyone can read it, and news organizations can pick it up to cover as a story. This kept it independent, and more importantly, kept WaPo independent too.

Given his position as the owner of Amazon, he has less to fear or worry about than most workers. But he has a Board to answer to, so the issues he faces are similar to those lower employees may deal with, just writ large. He sized up the situation, figured out a strategy that put the most pain on AMI and the least on him.

Hopefully you’re never facing a situation quite like this in your professional career, but there are some strategies you can learn from this.

Critical Thinking For Tough Situations

  1. Take time to assess the situation as a whole before you move.
  2. Investigate. Dig deeper when you can to find out as much as possible.
  3. Weigh your options. Is it worth it to take a stand and fight, or is this one you walk away from?
  4. If you fight, assume you’re going to take a hit too, and determine how to minimize the impact on you.
  5. Own a national newspaper. (wait.. scratch this one….)
  6. Figure out how to do your own PR and craft your message for the people who need to hear it.
  7. Find the appropriate channels to send your message to serve you in the best way possible.
Want to be prepared when a tough situation comes your way? C4CM has you covered. Our webinar on Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Skills for Improved Performance & Increased Productivity will help you keep a cool head in any situation, whether it’s crazy high-stakes or just a tangled work snafu. Everyone can benefit from improving their critical thinking skills, so get it on-demand today!

Tina Nacrelli


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