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TED talks, Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter

Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter

Back in New York, I am the head of development for a non-profit called Robin Hood. When I'm not fighting poverty, I'm fighting fires as the assistant captain of a volunteer fire company. Now in our town, where the volunteers supplement a highly skilled career staff, you have to get to the fire scene pretty early to get in on any action.

I remember my first fire. I was the second volunteer on the scene, so there was a pretty good chance I was going to get in. But still it was a real footrace against the other volunteers to get to the captain in charge to find out what our assignments would be. When I found the captain, he was having a very engaging conversation with the homeowner, who was surely having one of the worst days of her life. Here it was, the middle of the night, she was standing outside in the pouring rain, under an umbrella, in her pajamas, barefoot, while her house was in flames.

The other volunteer who had arrived just before me -- let's call him Lex Luther -- (Laughter) got to the captain first and was asked to go inside and save the homeowner's dog. The dog! I was stunned with jealousy. Here was some lawyer or money manager who, for the rest of his life, gets to tell people that he went into a burning building to save a living creature, just because he beat me by five seconds. Well, I was next. The captain waved me over. He said, "Bezos, I need you to go into the house. I need you to go upstairs, past the fire, and I need you to get this woman a pair of shoes." (Laughter) I swear. So, not exactly what I was hoping for, but off I went -- up the stairs, down the hall, past the 'real' firefighters, who were pretty much done putting out the fire at this point, into the master bedroom to get a pair of shoes.

Now I know what you're thinking, but I'm no hero. (Laughter) I carried my payload back downstairs where I met my nemesis and the precious dog by the front door. We took our treasures outside to the homeowner, where, not surprisingly, his received much more attention than did mine. A few weeks later, the department received a letter from the homeowner thanking us for the valiant effort displayed in saving her home. The act of kindness she noted above all others: someone had even gotten her a pair of shoes.

In both my vocation at Robin Hood and my avocation as a volunteer firefighter, I am witness to acts of generosity and kindness on a monumental scale, but I'm also witness to acts of grace and courage on an individual basis. And you know what I've learned? They all matter. So as I look around this room at people who either have achieved, or are on their way to achieving, remarkable levels of success, I would offer this reminder: don't wait. Don't wait until you make your first million to make a difference in somebody's life. If you have something to give, give it now. Serve food at a soup kitchen. Clean up a neighborhood park. Be a mentor.

Not every day is going to offer us a chance to save somebody's life, but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one. So get in the game. Save the shoes.

Thank you.



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Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter

Back in New York, I am the head of development for a non-profit called Robin Hood. When I'm not fighting poverty, I'm fighting fires as the assistant captain of a volunteer fire company. Now in our town, where the volunteers supplement a highly skilled career staff, you have to get to the fire scene pretty early to get in on any action. Сейчас в нашем городе, где волонтеры дополняют высококвалифицированный кадровый персонал, нужно приходить на место пожара довольно рано, чтобы принять участие в каких-либо действиях.

I remember my first fire. I was the second volunteer on the scene, so there was a pretty good chance I was going to get in. Я был вторым волонтером на месте происшествия, так что у меня были хорошие шансы попасть туда. But still it was a real footrace against the other volunteers to get to the captain in charge to find out what our assignments would be. Но все же это была настоящая гонка против других добровольцев, чтобы добраться до главного капитана, чтобы узнать, какие у нас будут задания. When I found the captain, he was having a very engaging conversation with the homeowner, who was surely having one of the worst days of her life. Here it was, the middle of the night, she was standing outside in the pouring rain, under an umbrella, in her pajamas, barefoot, while her house was in flames.

The other volunteer who had arrived just before me -- let's call him Lex Luther -- (Laughter) got to the captain first and was asked to go inside and save the homeowner's dog. The dog! I was stunned with jealousy. Here was some lawyer or money manager who, for the rest of his life, gets to tell people that he went into a burning building to save a living creature, just because he beat me by five seconds. Well, I was next. The captain waved me over. He said, "Bezos, I need you to go into the house. I need you to go upstairs, past the fire, and I need you to get this woman a pair of shoes." (Laughter) I swear. So, not exactly what I was hoping for, but off I went -- up the stairs, down the hall, past the 'real' firefighters, who were pretty much done putting out the fire at this point, into the master bedroom to get a pair of shoes. Так что, не совсем то, на что я надеялся, но я пошел -- вверх по лестнице, вниз по коридору, мимо "настоящих" пожарных, которые к этому моменту почти закончили тушить огонь, в главную спальню, чтобы добраться до нее. пара ботинок.

Now I know what you're thinking, but I'm no hero. Теперь я знаю, о чем ты думаешь, но я не герой. (Laughter) I carried my payload back downstairs where I met my nemesis and the precious dog by the front door. (Смех) Я отнес свою полезную нагрузку обратно вниз, где встретил своего заклятого врага и драгоценную собаку у входной двери. We took our treasures outside to the homeowner, where, not surprisingly, his received much more attention than did mine. Мы вынесли наши сокровища на улицу к домовладельцу, где, что неудивительно, ему уделялось гораздо больше внимания, чем моему. A few weeks later, the department received a letter from the homeowner thanking us for the valiant effort displayed in saving her home. Несколько недель спустя департамент получил письмо от домовладельца, в котором он благодарил нас за доблестные усилия по спасению ее дома. The act of kindness she noted above all others: someone had even gotten her a pair of shoes. Акт доброты она отметила превыше всего: кто-то даже подарил ей пару туфель.

In both my vocation at Robin Hood and my avocation as a volunteer firefighter, I am witness to acts of generosity and kindness on a monumental scale, but I'm also witness to acts of grace and courage on an individual basis. И в моем призвании в «Робин Гуде», и в моем призвании пожарного-добровольца я являюсь свидетелем актов великодушия и доброты в монументальном масштабе, но я также являюсь свидетелем актов милосердия и мужества на индивидуальной основе. And you know what I've learned? They all matter. Все они имеют значение. So as I look around this room at people who either have achieved, or are on their way to achieving, remarkable levels of success, I would offer this reminder: don't wait. Поэтому, когда я смотрю в этой комнате на людей, которые либо достигли, либо находятся на пути к достижению выдающихся успехов, я хотел бы напомнить вам: не ждите. Don't wait until you make your first million to make a difference in somebody's life. Не ждите, пока вы заработаете свой первый миллион, чтобы изменить чью-то жизнь к лучшему. If you have something to give, give it now. Если у вас есть что дать, дайте это сейчас. Serve food at a soup kitchen. Подавайте еду в бесплатной столовой. Clean up a neighborhood park. Be a mentor.

Not every day is going to offer us a chance to save somebody's life, but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one. Не каждый день дает нам шанс спасти чью-то жизнь, но каждый день дает нам возможность повлиять на нее. So get in the game. Так что заходи в игру. Save the shoes. Сохраните обувь.

Thank you. Спасибо.

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