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 #Day1.
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 may, 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 #Day1.
As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly planning ahead, hoping to capitalize not the right opportunity. It’s no coincidence that I planned my company’s showcase for this month. What better moment to reach out to aspiring founders than when they’re most open to thinking big and taking risks? I’m looking forward to a busy month, filled with new connections and lots of buzzing about partnership and collaboration. But at the same time, I find myself feeling conflicted and a bit nostalgic, if I’m honest. I think I’m missing 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’m missing 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 most likely were the people taking the Chinatown bus with you during college on random adventures before you were old enough to rent a car without paying the extra fee that you couldn’t afford. They were the ones who pitched in with their last $20 for gas to get you to the interview or 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, but who want with you even more when you reach the destination.
But #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 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 #Day1: 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. I'm hopeful that I’ll get the chance to chat with him about this someday.
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 founding member of Tide Risers and excited to expand the network to Washington, D.C. in 2019.
Photo credit: Brook Lark on Unsplash