Succession Done Right: Amazon Finally Gets to Day 2!

Tim Sackett Leadership, Succession Planning, Talent Strategy

For those who don’t get the reference, Amazon’s founder and soon to be former CEO, Jeff Bezos (the richest dude in the world, even after a divorce) often sites his most held belief that he and his employees should always act like every day is Day 1. It’s a startup mentality. No matter how big you get, if you come into each day as if it’s Day 1, that a great way to focus your efforts.

I’m actually a huge fan of the concept. Bezos even has “Day 1” as the name of the main corporate headquarters building his office is in. Signs and symbols! Another great leadership strategy.

Now, Bezos has come out and begun his transition to Executive Chairman of the Board and promoting one of his most trusted lieutenants, Andy Jassy, to the role of CEO.

So, can we now say it’s Day 2!

Jassy currently runs Amazon’s ATM machine known as Amazon Web Services, aka AWS. It’s most profitable division of the company by a mile and one that has been rumored to spin off as a separate company for years. This will now start rumors that maybe AWS is kept, and Amazon’s main retail operation will get spun off! Either way, Bezos is still and will remain the single largest shareholder of Amazon stock, just in case you were wondering who was really in charge!

What does Day 2 look like for Jeffy? That’s the real question, let’s explore the possibilities:

  • Focus on his charitable foundation. Bezos hasn’t been known for his charitable contributions. His ex-wife actually has done quite a bit, but you would expect the richest guy in the world could start throwing a few billion around and making it rain a bit on some charities.
  • He claims he’s going to focus on climate change with his earth fund and focus on his space company, Blue Origin. Seems like a billionaire pissy contest with Elon Musk. Who can blow the most money living out their childhood fantasy of being astronauts?
  • How about some movies? Bezos loves hanging out in the Hollywood scene. The allure of being in a movie, and easily being able to fund any movie could easily be had. (Said in deep movie commercial voice) Coming this Summer, The Rock and The Jeff star in the Sci-fi buddy movie, “The Race to Blue Origin!”

I mean, if you could do anything, and had the most money, what would you do? I mean how many days could you spend on a private island in the south Pacific before you get bored? How much crap could you buy, before it all is just more stuff? I mean, this dude could have one hell of a mid-life crisis and buy a country or something. King Jeff of Ireland. Like he could actually afford to buy Ireland, not sure why anyone would really want to buy Ireland. Maybe someplace warmer, Hawaii! Can you buy a state? I mean we know you can buy a state senate seat, right??

Oh, President Jeff Bezos? Seems like a giant step down in compensation, and let’s face it, he’s way more powerful than the President. Yeah, he won’t do that, that job sucks.

What am I really talking about?

Succession Planning!

Amazon’s stock price didn’t even wiggle a little when really out of nowhere Bezos stepped away from the CEO role at Amazon. The largest company in the world and no one was like, WAIT, YOU CAN’T LEAVE! That’s great succession.

He writes a short letter announcing his decision and a few words about what’s next, and ends with this paragraph:

Keep inventing, and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1.


Doesn’t it sound a bit like a dude who is about to do a bunch of edibles and not do anything for a while? “Remember to wander?!?” What the f*ck is that? That’s Jeff Bezos Life Coach! “It remains Day 1.” is really just his way of saying, “Look, I’m taking an extended vacation, making a movie with The Rock, and get your asses back to work!”

The best succession planning is when no one really cares that the current leader is leaving, neither good nor bad, just “okay, cool, have fun” we are still going to be over here printing cash. The next day, Day 2, is just like the last day. Great succession goes mostly unnoticed by the vast majority of people.

God speed, Jeff. Can’t wait for the movie!