How to Avoid Complacency

A Look Inside Jeff Bezos’ Day 1 Mindset

Valkyrie Holmes
5 min readMay 10, 2021

By Valkyrie Holmes

What if I told you that Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder and former CEO of Amazon, has held the same mindset for over 20 years? His companies have shifted with the times, changed to accommodate his audience, and have grown to the height they are now due to the fact that he’s always had one hard rule.

It is always Day 1.

A crucial part of running companies as big as Amazon is constantly innovating. Without innovation, companies don’t evolve. Without evolution, the company goes under. Bezos realized this and revolutionized how people thought of new industry building. In his 2016 “Letter to Shareholders”, he outlined his philosophy since the start and described how it’s helped him stay relevant all these years.

When he first started Amazon, he named a building Day 1. He’s kept that name since that very day and it all started with the simple realization that once Day 1 is over, the spark is gone. Day 2 is always filled with the nitty-gritty progress details, the long workdays, the decline, and the loss of creativity. Once the first day is done, many people lose that drive to keep going. That’s why every day has to be Day 1.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” — Jeff Bezos

Bezos outlines some key principles to following this mindset that every young entrepreneur should be aware of when taking on a new project.

Customer Obsession

Whether you’re a tech company or focused on the business side of things, the single most important thing you have to worry about is the customer. You can have a killer product that will improve everyone’s lives ten-fold but if you don’t have a medium to sell it through or understand the target audience, you aren’t going to get anywhere. Even when a customer is satisfied with a product, there will be failures and things you could improve and a great CEO will be able to assess those shortcomings and improve quickly. Even when there seem to be no problems, you will instantly know where you can make changes when you listen to your peers.

Resist Proxies

Adaptability is key. There’s a very common problem that happens with most larger corporations and that is focusing too much on the process rather than the outcome. You can get into a flow of things when you’ve done it for so long, losing innovation and eventually, losing your sense of self or your sense of what the company stands for. One process will not always work in every scenario and even if the same thing has worked in the past, it doesn’t mean it will work the same way in the future. That’s why it’s super important to take extra care of how you approach the process and never lose sight of using improvements to fuel success.

Embrace External Trends

Being educated on the outside world is becoming easier and easier with the growing technological age and this connectivity makes it both simple and difficult to hop on big trends, especially for bigger companies. Engaging in alternative frameworks and states of mind can help shape a company for the future, especially in industries like artificial intelligence. By learning from the experts and using that information to fuel your own growth, it further emphasizes the Day 1 mentality; always learning, always growing, always improving.

High-Velocity Decision Making

Even if you’re a successful company that makes high-quality decisions, that doesn’t mean you’ll be Day 1. The key to being innovative and achieving true Day 1 results is making decisions fast and effectively, emphasis on the FAST part. First off, if you wait for all the right information, you’ll waste time that could have been spent on creating new opportunities. Secondly, you’ll waste precious energy that could have been utilized to disrupt the industry. You have to focus on where those misalignment issues lie and dispel them first and fast to move on to bigger and better things. From there, then you make progress.

Applying the Day 1 Mentality

You can’t be afraid of change. You can’t be complacent. You can’t be completely satisfied. David Goggins, a motivational speaker and former Navy Seal, once said that “the worst thing a man can do is become civilized. You lose that fight. You become common.”

You don’t have to achieve perfection, but you can strive for it. How do you live your life currently and how are you training yourself to deal with failure? With regret? With past decisions?

You have the capability to transform your future and shape your own reality. You need to surround yourself with the right people, change your mindset, and do the hard things first. This isn’t to say that Amazon hasn’t had rough times in the past and that you’ll never run into pitfalls because that’s all part of being human. But when you allow yourself the freedom to think creatively and tap into that potential, the possibilities are endless.

We can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. But we have to choose it. — Jeff Bezos

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Valkyrie Holmes

I'm Valkyrie. Currently looking to educate the masses and disrupt industries. Building Faura to keep our homes from burning down. Come talk to me.