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  • Reverend James Squire

Day 1

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

Walter Isaacson has written about the lives of some great people such as DaVinci, Benjamin Franklin, Ada Lovelace, Jobs, Einstein and most recently, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. Isaacson wrote the

introduction to the collected essays of Bezos. Bezos is in the same league with some creative, artistic talent. There are some key characteristics that these people have to warrant Isaacson’s interest. "They must be passionately curious, love to connect arts and sciences, must think differently, and have a childlike sense of wonder." Bezos’ book, Invent and Wonder, gives us insight beyond how to become the richest man in the world but more importantly some observations about how to go from nothing to something which is a message for how to live in a post 2020 world.

First, Bezos is always “obsessed with the customer” and not the competition or what the shareholders want. Bezos is most concerned that people benefit by what he is doing. This is something more than "The customer comes first” or “The customer is always right”. He will do whatever it takes to make us happy. Can you imagine a nation where all that the leaders cared about was the well-being of “We The People.”

I am always interested in a leader’s decision-making process. He used the same process building Amazon as he did when taking the risk that no one thought would work to begin Amazon. He left a great job because of a question, “Would I regret not doing this (starting Amazon), when I reached old age?” That question powered his enterprise and when you think about it was a question behind the risk required in the founding of our nation. If caught our forefathers would have been hung. They had no regrets.

Bezos has three criteria for people who are hired. “Will you admire this person? Will this person raise the effectiveness of the group he or she is entering? Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?” These questions are being answered each day of this Pandemic by the actions of our medical personnel, other first responders, and essential workers with a resounding “Yes”. They are “We The People” centered. Bezos’ memo to the newly hired is, “You can work long, hard, and smart, but at Amazon, you can’t choose two out of three”. What an apt description of those tireless workers who keep us alive and well during this pandemic. They do all three for “We The People”.

At the core of Bezos’ success is the expression “Today is Day 1”. He always wants others to remember the core values of when they first began, those values that put people first and everything else second, those questions that he raised for those who would be hired, and finally the characteristics of recognizing hard work when you see it.

In my memoir I identified Day 1 for me, “Never forget where you came from”, and ask that question that can empower us, “How did I get here from there?’. Unlike politicians who operate from the Day 1 of “What have you done for me lately?”, we need to embrace the patriots of our land going forward, like John McCain whose Day 1 mentality was his integrity and courage in his life to “Never leave anyone left behind.” including those in prison camp with him. Find your Day 1 core values and questions that result in action. You will need them as we move forward as a nation into 2021.

On July 29 of 2020 Jeff Bezos testified to a house hearing along with the CEO(s) of Facebook, Google, and Apple. In his testimony, Bezos framed the challenges the nation faced: “We are in the middle of a much-needed race reckoning. We also face the challenges of climate change and income inequality, and we’re stumbling through the crisis of a global pandemic.” And then he shifted his tone to that of an innovator: “Still with all our faults and problems, the rest of the world would love even the tiniest sip of the elixir we have here in the US. It’s still Day 1 for this country.”

Day 1 for President Elect Biden is “Build Back Better. Unite and Heal”. The least we can do for the new breed of patriots that we find caring for others in a hospital including hospital workers who keep the premises clean, first responders, grocery store workers, and teachers, etc. is to put on a mask. To do that makes us a patriot. To not do it makes us people who only ask, “What have you done for me lately?” And lately, just may be too late!

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