Jeff Bezos concludes all of his shareholder letters with this sentence:
It remains Day 1.
This sentence encompasses the mindset that drives his strategy and leadership of Amazon. Although the company will be 24 years old this year, Bezos believes that Amazon must remain perpetually in Day 1.
In his 2016 Letter to Shareholders Bezos answered the natural follow up question: "What does Day 2 look like?":
Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.
Day 2 doesn't sound good for a company with over 500,000 employees and a fiduciary duty to shareholders who own a stock that is up 11% YTD (as of Feb 9, 2018).
So how does Amazon maintain a Day 1 mindset?
Here’s a starter pack of essentials for Day 1 defense: customer obsession, a skeptical view of proxies, the eager adoption of external trends, and high-velocity decision making.
This defense forms the strategic value pillars for Amazon. These pillars are the foundation for how the company operates. Reference points for team members on how to make decisions and approach their jobs.
The Day 1 mindset has a powerful application beyond Amazon.
How would your life be different if you viewed it from a Day 1 versus Day 2 mindset?
Day 2 is the tropical beach scenario. You made it, cold beverage in hand you've cashed out and no longer have responsibilities or worries. You don't need to learn or do anything. Just be until your internal clock hits 0. As Bezos writes:
Day 2 is stasis.
Day 2 is an illusion. A fictitious place to visit when Day 1 is hard or doesn't align with expectations. You imagine it will be better in Day 2 because then you wont need to work any more. You wont need to learn anything new or channel your discipline and put in the hard work to achieve your goals. Day 2 is when you've achieved all your goals and there is nothing left for you to do.
But I agree with Jeff, today remains Day 1. And Day 1 is much more interesting than Day 2. There is so much to discover, to explore, to learn. People to meet, experiences to be had. Hobbies to try. Skills to learn. New places to go. Goals to strive for.
The Day 1 mindset is one of curiosity. The will to try something. It's about having experiences. The experience of a new job, maintaining an existing relationship, having a beginners mind in a new class you've picked up.
Day 1 is embracing everything that comes with it. The hard work, the reward of perseverance, the process. It's not about chasing Day 2, or getting through Day 1 so that it's finally Day 2.
Kobe Bryant in his Muse documentary film talked about his immediate thoughts after winning his first elusive championship in 2000 against the Indiana Pacers:
...I remember winning the championship and kind of being like, well ok, now what, what happens now, what happens now...?
Kobe reached the pinnacle for any NBA player, the Day 2 of winning a championship. And yet his immediate question brought him back to Day 1. He may have spent 30 minutes in Day 2 basking in the champagne and celebrating with the team. But he was quick to return to Day 1. For Day 2 doesn't have the allure of Day 1. You don't get better in Day 2. You don't learn. You don't get to experience life.
And so for me also, it remains Day 1.