By: Danielle Kristine Toussaint
Spoiler: This is technically not an ode.
Amazon founder and tech mogul, Jeff Bezos, is famous for many things. Not least among them is his business philosophy that is relentlessly committed to sustaining the optimism and agility that founders and their companies have at the very start, on Day 1.
In one letter penned to his shareholders, he offered this rationale: “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” Hard to argue with his reasoning. He’s not the first to make the case for what’s special about new beginnings.
For many, January 1 is a day that represents new possibility. No matter who they were (or weren’t) or what they were doing (or not doing) just seconds before the ball dropped, somehow knowing that it is a new day, a new year, brings about this rush of optimism for lots of people. I’m not totally immune to this phenomenon; and while I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I do believe in bottling the energy of Day 1.
As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly planning ahead, hoping to capitalize on the right opportunity. It’s no coincidence that this year, I planned my company’s female founders showcase at the top of the new year. What better moment to reach out to aspiring entrepreneurs than when they’re most open to thinking big and taking risks? But as January turned into February, and the mania of the new year started to wear off, I found that I welcomed the slower, steadier pace. This led me back to the question: What’s so special about Day 1? I think it less about the time and place, and more about the people — my #DayOnes.
I’ve had the remarkable good fortune of staying connected to people in my life long after our paths have diverged. Thanks to modern technology (and the fact that I’ve only ever had one mobile number), old classmates (from Kindergarten to college) are usually only a direct message, text, or email away. But I’m not interested in a class reunion, per se. What I’ve come to miss are grounding conversations with the people who emerged through past experiences as real friends, those who challenged and supported me, those who let me dream aloud without judgement, and for whom I did the same.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” The problem with the new people who come into your life as your dreams start to take shape and materialize is that they’re not tested. You really don’t know how they’ll react if you hit a rough spot. But your #DayOnes have already proven that they’ll be there for you — because they already were. They were the ones who pitched in with their last $20 for gas to get you to your first real job interview or who spotted you for lunch when you got laid off from that entry level job you didn’t really like anyway. Your #DayOnes are the people you want with you on the journey and who you want with you even more when you reach the destination.
“Adulting” has changed everything for my #DayOnes and me. Most of us are married. Some of us have children. All of us have bills and responsibilities. Still, when we get together, even if it’s just on a massive group chat, it feels different. I immediately start to remember things I had forgotten about who I am, what I’ve come through, and why I must reach my destination.
Maybe that’s why Jeff Bezos insists on never moving past Day 1. He remembers that the people who were there at the start know something about who he is, what he’s come through, and why he must reach his destination that the new people who come along on Day 2 could never begin to grasp. Maybe someday I’ll get to ask him if my theory is right.
But for now, this one goes out to my #DayOnes. You know who you are.
Danielle Kristine Toussaint, founder + CEO of She Thinks Purple, is a storyteller, strategist and social impact leader. She has been the writing pen behind op-eds and speeches for Huffington Post, Forbes.com, and TEDx. Danielle holds a B.A. in Political Science and African American Studies from Yale University and a M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. She’s a member of the Ellevate DC board and a founding member of Tide Risers.
Originally published at www.ellevatenetwork.com.