[Every night] I send myself an email with the subject line: “rocks.” The idea is to separate the “rocks”—the big priorities—from the “gravel.” When you check your email in the morning, it can become a sinkhole. By sending myself this note, I’m able to use email in a more productive way.
At the Spheres [the giant biodomes at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters], we have 40,000 plants—800 different species from more than 30 countries—and thousands of visitors per week. Making sure that all those folks have a good experience is important to me. I’m getting people excited about nature, but also helping them physically feel better, and potentially, I hope, take better care of our planet.
I walk to work—if the weather is bad, I take the bus—and stop by my desk underneath the Spheres. It’s a steam environment where there might be soil on the floor and plants coming and going. When I was traveling to procure plants for the Spheres, botanical gardens really opened their doors in terms of sharing plants. I would always arrive with a suitcase full of packing materials—plastic wrap, ziplock plastic bags, paper towels, labels—and I would often bring back 100 to 200 different types of plants from a single botanical garden, in addition to going to nurseries and committing to purchase some plants. Living things are always unpredictable, but I’m a planner, and a little bit of planning goes a long way.
I try to get out in nature as much as I can. About five years ago, I bought an ’85 VW Westfalia camper van. I’m exploring Washington and a little bit of Oregon and places like Yellowstone. That’s often where I’m at when I need to recharge.
Time he gets up: 5:15 a.m.
First thing he does in the morning: “Make coffee, walk the dogs, water the plants.”
What he does while commuting: “Meditate on my big priorities.”
Email strategy: “When I’m traveling, I go back and find every email I can respond to and close the loop. I stop when I hit 100.”
How he handles social media: “I like to take pictures in the Spheres, and sometimes I post one to Instagram. It’s nice because it slows me down.”
Best habit: “Trying to instill a sense of gratitude in myself and in my team. We have arguably some of the best jobs for horticulturists on the planet. I tell our founder, Jeff Bezos, when I see him that I have the best job in the company. He’s the CEO, but man, I love my job. And I’m grateful for it.”
Worst habit: “I have to be conscious of my emotions when I’m in front of my team. How we appear to folks can [rub] off.”
Last thing he does at night: “Plug in my phone, outside of the bedroom. We have a ‘no screens in the bedroom’ policy.”
Time he goes to bed: 9:30 p.m.
A version of this article appeared in the Winter 2019/2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.