Jeff Bezos’ once-a-year letter to shareholders gives interested onlookers and business leaders carefully curated glimpses into his business style and management.
There’s a lot to be gleaned for anyone interested in leadership or management.
Some of the tips are to be expected: a willingness to react to powerful, external trends; and an openness towards having disagreements, by supporting decisions you don’t necessarily agree with.
However, one of his lessons expounds on a professional fear of the second day at a company. A fear so powerful that Bezos, despite spending well over 8,000 days at the helm of Amazon, opens his letter with.
He writes: “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1. [sic]”
Bezos explains that its crucial for businesses to keep the passion and drive that lead them to starting-up – by keeping that day one mentality in all of their dealings.
He continues: “Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.”
Its not the actual second day that Bezos is scared of, rather the change in mentality that could come with a businesses’ leaders thinking they have already won a secure market position.
Metaphor aside, Bezos also notes that its crucial for companies to utilise external trends for their own gain.
“The outside world can push you into Day 2 if you won’t or can’t embrace powerful trends quickly. If you fight them, you’re probably fighting the future. Embrace them and you have a tailwind.
These big trends are not that hard to spot (they get talked and written about a lot), but they can be strangely hard for large organizations to embrace. We’re in the middle of an obvious one right now: machine learning and artificial intelligence.”
This trend is one that Amazon have fully embraced, using Prime Air delivery drones, staff-less stories and Alexa, a cloud-based AI assistant.
Amazon was founded in 1994.