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Executive Insight: Getting Into A “Day 1” Mindset

What would you do differently if you just bought your business today?

(image credit: Getty Images)

I’ve been running my custom installation business, Livewire, for 20 years. I’d like to say I spring out of bed every morning champing at the bit with a mile-long list that just can’t wait. Most days, that’s true. That said, 20 years is a long time to stay excited about something all the time. Starting new things can be a lot more exciting than running the day-to-day long after the startup phase has passed. How can we keep things fresh?

Amazon embraces an attitude they call “Day 1.” Its stance is simple — there’s no resting on laurels and yesterday is gone. What are we doing today to make things better for the customer? Becoming stale is a symptom of what Amazon’s Jeff Bezos calls “Day 2” thinking. According to Bezos, “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by an excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

I found myself inadvertently moving from a Day 2 to a Day 1 mindset last week as I drove into work. “What if I’d just bought Livewire?” I thought to myself. What would I do to change and improve the business? That lightbulb moment immediately flipped a switch and helped me to start looking at the company through fresh eyes again. I began making a list of top priorities as if I were the new owner. Things I’d become nose blind to started to bother me immensely. Good enough was no longer good enough.

Day 1 is all about appraising the resources and people around you, drawing up battle plans, and getting after it. By eliminating the permission we all give ourselves to coast on prior accomplishments, Day 1 instills a constant sense of urgency by focusing all accomplishment energy on what we’re going to do and not what we’ve already done.

If you’ve found yourself in the doldrums lately, consider trying on a little Day 1 thinking by pretending you just bought your own company. What would you do immediately? Fire that toxic employee? Finally, get your showroom shipshape? Get your mission, vision, and values defined and communicated? Whatever it is, Day 1 thinking will reveal it and rev your engine.

My next mission is to help radiate Day 1 thinking throughout the company. That’s going to be a heavy lift, but an effort that will be well worth it.

What are you doing to foster Day 1 thinking within yourself and your company?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.

This article originally appeared on

About the Author
Henry Clifford is president of LIVEWIRE, an integration firm in Richmond, VA. He also serves on the CEDIA Business Working Group and writes a bi-monthly blog for Residential Systems.

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