Amazon office

Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos recently became the second richest person in the world with a net worth of $75.3 billion. What's the secret of his success? Every day he asks one simple question: "Are we a Day 1 or Day 2 Company?"

Day 1 Company

A Day 1 Company makes the decision that every day will be a new day where experimenting, inventing and innovating are the norm. Day 1 companies are obsessed with their customers and not becoming a prisoner to process. They embrace new trends and weak signals early to stay ahead of the curve and practice high speed decision-making where 80% confidence is enough to act. In a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) waiting for 100% confidence is simply too slow.

A Day 1 Company removes proxies that kill innovation such as bureaucracy, waste and out-dated attitudes and practices. It has the spirit and agility of a startup whatever its history or size. General Electric calls itself a 125 year old startup for a reason. A Day 1 Company embraces intelligent failure. In uncertain environments stop worrying about the rate of failure because you can afford a lot of failures if they're cheap. As the saying goes, "fail fast, fail cheap and move on".

A Day 1 Company adopts a 'learn it all' culture instead of a 'know it all' culture and practices 4C leadership (creating, collaborating, changing and challenging). And it always need to be a state of perpetual beta optimizing the present, while creating new growth engines and business models for the future. And a Day 1 Company has a CEO of tomorrow rather than a CEO of yesterday, always disrupting the status quo and anticipating change before a crisis forces it to change. Tesla, AirBnB, UpTake Technologies and WeWork are all Day 1 Companies.

Day 2 Company

What does a Day 2 Company look like? "Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why Amazon is always Day 1," writes Bezos.

A Day 2 Company is the opposite of Day 1. The mindset is 'business as usual' and the way of thinking is Industrial Age and 2C leadership (command and control). A Day 2 Company is still obsessed with efficiency before innovation, hierarchy before empowerment and status quo before change.

When you walk into a Day 2 Company you see an SEP culture ("somebody else's problem"). It's endemic in most Day 2 Companies and is the opposite of Day 1. You know the characters: blame throwers, energy suckers, silent assassins, and misery monsters that drag the whole team down. A Day 2 culture means avoidance: excuses, inertia, and lazy back covering. Like a disease that's airborne, SEP can contaminate a team, a company, and even you.

Day 2 Companies are literally sleepwalking into oblivion. Sun Microsystems, Blockbuster and Kodak became Day 2 Companies. Who's next?


Are you a Day 1 or Day 2 Company? Now is not the time to preserve the status quo. It's time for action: build a clear vision of the future, scale rapidly, and never stop learning.

Terence Mauri

Terence Mauri is an Inc. Top 100 keynote speaker and author of the award winning book, The Leader’s Mindset: How To Win In The Age of Disruption

Jun 5, 2017 By webmaster