At Code Conference 2016, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was asked about the Peter Thiel and Gawker situation. Jeff didn’t want to speak directly on Peter Thiel, but he did provide some sound advice on how to deal with your critics. The question Walt Mossberg asked was,

“Do you think somebody who happens to be a billionaire should be able to fund a series of lawsuits, regardless of merit, whose real purpose is to put that company out of business and destroy them for personal reasons?”

Jeff Bezos’ Answer:

Yeah, I don’t.

I don’t know the details of this particular situation, I don’t think I really need to. I’ll take it up a level and talk about some of the principles that in my mind would apply here. I can take this from a couple directions but you know the old saying, I think it’s attributed to Confucius, ‘seek revenge and you shall dig two graves, one for yourself.’

You always have to ask yourself, ‘how do I want to spend my time and energy?’

Do you want to spend it trying to right even a legitimate wrong? Lets say someone really did legitimately wrong you. Is that how you want to spend your time? I don’t think so. I think most people step back, take a deep breathe and say, ‘I’m going to go on and do great things, I’m going to do amazing things in the future.’

I would also say that as a public figure the best defense against, and again I’m not going to try to get into any particular story, this is not about Peter or Gawker or any particular thing, but the best defense to speech that you don’t like about yourself as a public figure is to develop a thick skin. It’s really the only effective defense because you can’t stop it, you know?

You are going to be misunderstood. If you are doing anything interesting in the world, you are going to have critics. If you absolutely can’t tolerate critics then don’t do anything new, or interesting, and then you can insulate yourself. Then think how wonderful your life will be.”

If you want to hear his answer for yourself, check out the video below, starting at 23:15.

Cover Image: Ash Carter (DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz) (Released) (CC BY 2.0)