Thinks Out Loud: E-commerce and Digital Strategy

Thinks Out Loud: E-commerce and Digital Strategy

Revisiting Day One — Today is a New Day (Thinks Out Loud)

August 31, 2023
Photo of farmer and his son walking at dawn to illustrate Amazon's "Day One" mindset

We’ve officially reached "the unofficial end of summer." What a great time to relax, recharge, and reset our "Day One" mindset before heading into the rest of the year.

What is a "Day One" mindset? And why does it matter to your business? That’s what this "Best of the Thinks Out Loud Podcast" episode is all about.

Day One is borrowed from Amazon and focuses on building your company as though it is your very first day of operations, every day. The brilliance of this approach is that you’re always allowed to think about how you might start "start over," how you can improve, how you can get better and provide your customers with better experiences, every day. It’s an amazing approach and a big reason why Amazon is one of the most dominant players in Big Tech.

What else can you learn from adopting a "Day One" mindset? And how can you apply it appropriately within your teams, within your company, and within your own career? Give a listen and let us know what you think.

And, if you want to learn more, here are the show notes for you.

Revisiting Day One — Today is a New Day (Thinks Out Loud) Headlines and Show Notes
Show Notes and Links

You might also enjoy this webinar I recently participated in with Miles Partnership that looked at "The Power of Generative AI and ChatGPT: What It Means for Tourism & Hospitality" here:

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Running time: 20m 38s

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Transcript: Revisiting Day One — Today is a New Day

Well hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 387 of the big show. And thank you so much for tuning in.

I genuinely appreciate it. You know, my clients, my customers have an interesting reality. In that they cooperate pretty heavily. They rely upon companies like Google and Amazon and Expedia and Booking. com, Big Tech generally to reach customers just like you do, right? They also compete with Google and Amazon and Expedia and and big tech generally Just like you do You know, there’s this old e-commerce term it goes way back to the early days of e commerce where people talked about co-opetition. You cooperate with these player; you also compete with them. You live in a world where they have an enormous amount of control, they have an enormous amount of power. You can’t simply ignore them. And you want their reach. You want their ability to reach customers that you may not be able to reach on your own profitably. You also don’t want to rely on them entirely.

Because then you don’t have a direct relationship with your customer. This is something we’ve talked about a lot, right? It’s the whole crux of the hub and spoke model that I’ve talked about many, many times where your hub are things you control and the spokes are the things you use to reach people you can’t reach more easily on your own.

The thing that I want to focus on today though, with regard to big tech, Is that what you can do in every case is learn from them. You can learn what works for them that you can apply to your business. And you also should learn what doesn’t work for them that you don’t want to emulate in your business or what might be working for them, but wouldn’t work for you and you don’t want to emulate.

And given that we’re about halfway through the year, I thought it would be interesting to talk about one place where I absolutely think every business can learn from Big Tech. And in this case, it’s not Big Tech generally, it’s one specific company. It’s Amazon. Amazon Has for years used what they refer to as a day one culture.

It was a big hallmark of Jeff Bezos’s time as CEO. I, I’m a little concerned they may be getting away from it a little bit, but their day one culture is genuinely brilliant. I talked about this on an episode of the podcast about a year and a half ago. Where Jeff Bezos wrote a letter to shareholders and talked about what he called a day of Amazon being what he calls a day one company.

As I said at the time, he’s always looking at it as if they’re starting from scratch from day one, if they were going to build a company that they wanted to be going forward. Yeah. What kind of company would they build and that’s a necessary component of digital transformation. It’s really brilliant and it’s something that I think lots of companies can learn from because you get to make it better.

Any day you want, every day you want, from wherever you happen to be, and then it’s an important question to ask how you can cultivate that mindset in your team, in yourself, and in your company at large. It starts with a vision of where you want to be. In episode 380 of this podcast, I’d used that quote, I’d mentioned that quote, that a society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit.

And I asked the question, What trees will you plant? Where do you want to be? What kind of society, and in this case I’m using that term more narrowly, when you think about your company, when you think about your team, when you think about yourself, what society do you want for you, for your team, for your company?

That’s how you grow great, is by thinking about that and beginning to do the work to quote unquote plant those trees. There’s also another quote that I like a lot that I’ve talked about before. In fact, I mentioned it in that same Amazon Day One post not long ago, where I talked about how culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Now, I only agree with this in part. You need to have a solid strategy. That’s why you want to start with a vision of where you want to be. If you don’t have a strong vision of where you’re going to end up, if you don’t know what kinds of trees you wish to sit under, or whose shade you want your company to sit under, then it’s unlikely you’re going to get where you want to be.

But a great strategy with a terrible culture is also doomed to fail. Because you’re not going to have people who embrace that vision and who work together to achieve that vision. Collaboration works way better than individual geniuses. So you want to make sure it’s a culture where people work together to achieve that vision.

Who are all pulling together to achieve that vision. You need to create a culture that embraces the changes that are necessary and embraces the learning that is necessary. You know, embraces failure, embraces the, you know, you learn something important from those failures so that you can get better as you go forward.

I recently worked with a client, not long ago, a few months back, where there was a real lack of trust within the organization. It was a really good company. But they had some culture issues, and they brought us in initially to help better understand their customers. Part of the problem that we discovered, though, was that senior management wasn’t sure that employees had the right skills to serve their customer needs.

And their employees didn’t trust that senior management respected the work that they did. They didn’t feel like senior management was connected closely enough to what was going on to do the right thing for the customers. Now, both groups had valid viewpoints and valid experiences. This was more about struggling to communicate and Very much about some missing pieces in how they measured the success of their work.

They didn’t have great success measures in place. They didn’t know what success looked like in a detailed way, or what elements that they did along the way led to greater success in the long term with their customers. They knew, generally, that their customers were happy. But they struggled to articulate the specific actions they took that led to happy customers.

Different parts of the organization, marketing, sales, product, technology, were all claiming credit for their happy customers. But no one could easily point to what actually mattered to the customer. One of the results of this was that they rarely celebrated wins. They didn’t know who to give credit to. So they didn’t credit anyone.

And this was leading the teams to believe that senior management didn’t care about their work. And it was leading senior management to believe that the teams were more worried about getting credit than doing a good job. Now, I have to be very clear. None of this was malicious. No one set out to do this.

This is why it’s called culture. Because culture grows. Culture is an organic thing that occurs. Over time, everyone in the organization wanted to do a good job. Everyone was working hard. And they were producing generally good results that generally made their customers happy. At the same time, the company was tripping over themselves a bit, and making it harder and more painful than it needed to be to take care of their customers and to do the very good work that they were doing.

We helped them, we helped kind of shine a light on this problem to help them define some simple success measures that were predictive of client satisfaction. We helped them account for where they were measuring up to those success measures, and in the cases where they didn’t, where they were falling short.

We encouraged senior management to celebrate quick wins in the places where they found them, and there were plenty. Which made the team feel more appreciated. It made them feel like they were being valued for the hard work that they were doing. At the same time, we encouraged the teams to find ways to fix the areas where they were falling short.

Which made them feel more engaged. And actually made their work easier. It also demonstrated to the company’s senior leaders that the team was capable of doing a great job and it demonstrated how willing they were to improve how much they wanted to improve, how much more they wanted to do their jobs better.

The engagement had started out about gaining a better understanding of the customers, helping them gain a better understanding of their customers. It morphed though into getting a better understanding of the company culture and where necessary making some subtle shifts in that culture to better serve customers.

Quick wins build on each other. They help you say, this is something that went really well. How can we do that again? How can we do that again? How can we do that again? Think about New Year’s resolutions, if you want, for a moment, and ignore the part where most New Year’s resolutions fail. Of course, there’s plenty of research, you’ve seen this over the years, that show that only about 9% of Americans that make resolutions complete them.

This is according to Ohio State University. In fact, research goes on to show that 23% of people quit their resolution by the end of the first week. And 43% quit by the end of January. First, let’s flip those numbers on their head for a moment. Another way to look at that set of numbers is that 77% keep going past the first week.

And 57% of people keep going past January. The question you need to ask is why do the people who stick with their New Year’s resolutions keep going? Well, it turns out that The same research from Ohio State University calls that out as well. They say you have to start, you have to set smaller objectives.

That’s where quick wins come into place. What can we accomplish right away? How do we build on that? You have to expect obstacles. You’re going to run into roadblocks. If those come as a surprise to you, it’s understandable that they may stop you short. But if you know that there will be obstacles, then they just become a thing you have to get over or around.

You have to assume accountability. When I talked a moment ago about setting the measurements of things that mattered, that’s where that comes into place. Are we actually counting what matters and holding one another accountable for those things? Are you measuring in the first place? That you’re accomplishing what you want.

And the last element, and for purposes of today, the most important one. Is they start at a time of change. Here’s the brilliance of Amazon’s day one culture. If it’s always day one, if we are always starting from the very first day of the company, then every day is a time of change. Think about it. If today is day one, it’s a time of change.

If tomorrow is day one, it’s a time of change. If the next day is day one, it is a time of change. The lesson is that you get to start over at any time. This is a weird psychological trick. I feel like one of those BuzzFeed articles right now. You know, this one psychological trick, this one weird psychological trick, but it’s well known that it is easy to, to inspire change in yourself and in others.

On dates that correspond with change, your birthday, the first day of the year, the first day of the quarter, the first day of the month, even the first day of the week, it’s a whole new beginning. That’s what Amazon’s doing. They’re saying every day is the first day. So the question I would ask you right now is we’re six months through the year.

We just started the second half. We just started a new quarter. We’re halfway through a month, but there’s a new month coming up. There’s a new week coming up. There’s a new day coming up. This is your opportunity to take hold of that first day of the week, the first day of the month, the first day of the quarter, even the first day of the year for some year today, right?

It’s a new day and it’s a great mindset to, to take hold of, to invest in, in your organization for yourself, for your team, for your company. Because if today is day one, and tomorrow is day one, and the next day is day one, then the only question that matters now is, how are you going to spend it? How are you going to take day one and make something new?

You get to do that every single day, because every single day is day one. How are you going to spend it? I can’t wait to see what you do.

Show Wrap-Up and Credits

Now looking at the clock on the wall. We are out of time for this week. As always, I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 387.

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Show Outro

Finally, I do want to say thank you so much for tuning in. I know I say this again and again and again almost every week, but I say it again and again and again because it’s so important for you to hear this.

I would not do this show without you. Your support, your listenership, your comments, your conversation, the community you are helping us build mean so much to me. So please keep the tweets coming, keep the messages coming on LinkedIn, keep the emails coming. I love getting a chance to chat with you and hear what’s on your mind and learn how we can make this a better community together.

So with all of that said, I hope you have a fantastic rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please, be well, be safe, and as always, take care, everybody.


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