The Most Important Trait in Business

This single trait determines business success & death

6 min readNov 24, 2021


I saw a post about the first job ad that Jeff Bezos posted for Amazon. The post is for a developer who Bezos says should be able to build and maintain complex systems “in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible.”

Sounds like Bezos needed some 10x engineers. In all seriousness though, the thinking was sound. By hiring a developer that could work much faster than other developers would allow Bezos to get ahead of his competitors and maintain a healthy distance in the market race to become the dominant online book seller.

One of the things that has surprised me about being at as large of a company as Amazon is that working fast is the norm. What I liked most about working in startups was how fast we could do things. This would be reinforced whenever I engaged with large enterprises on behalf of the startups I worked for. It would take ages to arrange a meeting with stakeholders, to get answers to questions, to be approved as a vendor, to negotiate contracts, or to get paid.

This is what working fast on the Internet looks like apparently

What I realized is something Bezos understood way back when he started Amazon. Speed matters in business. While this may seem obvious, the history of modern day corporations is littered with companies that died miserable deaths because they simply could not move fast enough. They were out marketed, out innovated, and out hustled.

This concept of speed is inherent in what we call our Day 1 culture. When Bezos first shared this in his 1997 Shareholder Letter, he declared that it was day one for the Internet and for Amazon. Maybe the best way to understand and visualize Day 1 though is to look at the opposite of Day 1 culture:

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death.”

At a 2017 company town hall, Bezos answered the question, what is Day 2? Most companies epitomize Day 2 culture, overloaded by process, removed from the customer, and reacting slowly to the market. In short, they simply move too slow to adequately serve the needs of customers, to drive innovation, and to adopt modern ways of operating.




Thoughts on developers, digital transformation, startups, community building & engineering culture. Author is Mark Birch @ AWS 👉