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Day 1 Mindset: A Key to be unstoppable


Cindy Montgenie, CEO of New Skies Nation

By Cindy Montgenie

By 2025, nearly half of today’s Fortune 500 companies will be swept away by digital disruption. 52% of Fortune 500 companies from 2000 are already gone, and that’s just the beginning of the digital disruption.

How is it that some companies still aren’t even nurturing relationships with their customers through email? Meanwhile artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing are gaining traction, giving a clear competitive edge to companies using those technologies.

What can we learn from companies that are thriving in this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world to avoid becoming a casualty of digital disruption? Let’s look at Amazon, an iconic company which been continually focused on creating the future since its early startup stage.

In his 2017 letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos revealed probably the principal key to Amazon’s phenomenal success: remaining a Day 1 company.

What does that mean?

A Day 1 company lives and breathes to delight its customers. Business models and products come second. They know their customers better than the customers know themselves, so they can anticipate their needs to create innovative products.

Who knew we needed Amazon Prime before it existed? The company that knew its customers best. In the case of Apple, another Day 1 company, who knew that we couldn’t live without smartphones? Risk, failure, and innovation are embedded into their culture in a continuing quest to wow their customers.

A Day 1 company values processes, but is not a slave to them. Processes are a must to profitably scale any business, but they should never kill the vitality of a company.

A Day 1 company embraces trends early on to stay ahead of the pack and create the future.

A Day 1 company makes super-fast decisions with 70% of the information at hand. The need to reach a consensus is replaced at Amazon by the principle of “disagree and commit.”

At some point, you stop the discussion, acknowledging that you disagree, but you commit to a path so the company can move fast. The CEO and executive team can both move forward with confidence despite not having all the answers.

A Day 1 company maintains a startup spirit while they are scaling. Their focus is on the future and leading change before being forced to adapt to change.

If these winning traits characterize a Day 1 company, you might wonder what a Day 2 company looks like?

According to Jeff Bezos: “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful, decline. Followed by death.” Ouch!

A Day 2 company operates from an opposite mindset from a Day 1 company.

They value optimization over innovation. They are not fixated on customer. Their leadership style is top down and not collaborative. Inertia, status quo, and excuses prevail over change and speed.

Day 2 companies were one thriving Day 1 companies like Kodak, Nokia, and Blockbuster who forgot that remaining number one is not a given.

Amazon is now more than 20 years old, and Jeff Bezos prioritizes his daily effort to ensure that Amazon remains a Day 1 company.

What about you: are you a Day 1 or Day 2 company?

What is your leadership style: authoritative or collaborative? Are you the one coming up with all the strategic initiatives or do you regularly get input from your executive team and employees? How well do you know your customers?

“Business as usual” is dead. CEOs and executives of any size in any industry should be focused on leading change to ensure the future of their companies.

I would love to hear what you’re doing to stay customer-focused and embrace change.

Former tech executive, Cindy Montgenie is the CEO of New Skies Nation (www.newskiesnation.com). As a high-performance strategist, keynote speaker and trainer, Cindy Montgenie helps business leaders leverage her “All Star Leadership Playbook” to thrive through change so they can be future-ready without losing their sanity. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook (@NewSkiesNation) Twitter (@CindyMontgenie) and Instagram (@CindyMontgenie) and contact her at cindy@newskiesnation.com