Gwyneth Paltrow is a famous person, which means her success rate when asking other famous people for favors is typically much higher than an ordinary person’s might be. When Paltrow launched a podcast her friend Oprah Winfrey agreed to be her first guest; when she got married, Jerry Seinfeld and his wife hosted her rehearsal dinner. And when she needs advice on running Goop, her ever-expanding lifestyle empire, she calls Disney CEO Bob Iger (and Oprah, obviously).
Yet one person remains indifferent to Paltrow’s entreaties: Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
“I’ve emailed him,” Paltrow said in a recent Wall Street Journal Magazine profile. “He won’t email back.” (According to the magazine, a Bezos spokesperson declined to comment.)
Paltrow shouldn’t take this too personally. Bezos receives an overwhelming amount of email, especially since he has always publicized his Amazon email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Though he doesn’t respond to them personally, Bezos claims to read most of the customer complaints that come to his inbox. Those he deems worthy of follow-up get forwarded to the relevant manager with a message consisting of a single character—“?”—which translates in Bezos-speak to “figure out what this is about and fix it.”
As The Cut highlighted, Paltrow’s admiration for Bezos dates back to at least February, when she told the Wall Street Journal that the Amazon CEO was the person she would most like to have dinner with.
“I just have lots of questions for him,” she said at the time. “Does he want to be the boss of the whole world or is there a beautiful, poetic strategy for the consumer? I’m totally fascinated—he’s an enigma.”
Paltrow is far from the only A-lister willing to make cold calls. Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez have used the tactic to land meetings with everyone from Oprah to Warren Buffett. To increase her chances of a response, Paltrow should follow the advice of organizational psychologist (and Goop podcast guest) Adam Grant, whose six tips for getting important people to respond to one’s emails include a perfect subject line, and “highlighting uncommon commonalities,” and expressions of gratitude—a subject Paltrow’s Goop website covers in abundance.
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