10/17/18

Strategy Report Card – Better Next Year

Big Red Car here in rainy and flooding Austin By God Texas. The flooding situation is getting very serious in the Hill Country to the west of Austin. Lake Travis – an enormous body of water, 30 square miles in surface area – is full to overflowing. It is at the sixth deepest depth of water since it was inundated in 1942.

Image result for images hill country flooding 2018

Floodwaters topping Max Starcke Dam on the Colorado River by Marble Falls and upstream from Lake Travis. Lake Travis is a flood control dam — thank you, Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn.

So, today we talk about planning your strategy for CY 2019.

But, first, we have to take stock of how the strategy fared in 2018. Now is the time to begin that reflection.

Here is a guideline to begin the process.

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10/15/18

Voting Trusts

Big Red Car here on a rainy Monday in the ATX. [Whoever has been praying for rain locally – you can stop now.]

So, a founder calls me and says, “I read where you recommend a voting trust for a startup. Do tell?”

A voting trust is a good idea right from the founding of a company. It is something which should be in your founding documents:

 1. Articles of Incorporation;

 2. Corporate Bylaws;

 3. Option Plan;

 4. Founding Shareholders Agreement;

 5. Voting Trust; and,

 6. Employment Agreements.

[You do have the Big Six, right? Haha, half of y’all couldn’t find these docs even if you made them. Sorry, that was mean.]

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10/11/18

The Founder Note Receivable

Big Red Car here musing about how founders can get paid for the uncompensated work they do in launching their business.

A startup may cycle through bootstrapping, friends & family, angels, syndicated angels, seed VC funding, Series A/B/C/D funding.

At some time, they will be able to pay themselves some kind of living wage – the question is when?

Today, the Big Red Car shares an idea whose time has come: the Founder Note Receivable.

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10/9/18

CEO Shoptalk – Mistakes

Rainy day in paradise, so we talk about mistakes today.

If you are a CEO for more than twenty minutes, you will make a mistake. Sorry. Truth.

Mistakes fall into four general categories:

 1. Foot faults, like using the wrong fork with shellfish;

 2. Minimal consequences to someone on the team faux pas;

 3. Adverse consequences to a client or critical stakeholder; and,

 4. Burn the house down mistakes.

So what do you do?

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10/2/18

CEO Shoptalk – Time Allocation

Time allocation is a critical consideration for the CEO of any size enterprise, but particularly for CEOs of small businesses and startups.

Big Red Car here. Been in Savannah spending time with My Perfect Granddaughter offspring of My Perfect Daughter, the red head.

So, when I am there, I get into a convo with a young C-suite type guy and we are discussing how a startup or small company CEO should allocate his time.

It is a conversation I’ve had with a million CEOs. It is a universal problem faced by all CEOs.

How does one allocate their time as the company is faced with growth in a crawl, walk, run scenario?

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09/21/18

Decisionmaking – Quick Decisionmaking

Big Red Car here on a glorious Friday. Well, actually, it’s rainy, but it is still Friday.

So, I was in conversation with a fellow graduate of Virginia Military Institute and we were discussing, of all things, the purpose of the VMI Rat Line.

Your first year at VMI, you are systemically challenged (akin to waterboarding, but who’s quibbling about technique) to learn how to be a cadet, absorb the military regimen, and study something like civil engineering. It is a hard row to hoe.

This is called the VMI Rat Line. Other places call it “torture.” It is a system which VMI has used since 1839 and they are not even considering changing it. About 2/3s of your class will survive it. Sometimes, only half. It makes Airborne and Ranger Schools seem a little tamer.

VMI Professor of Artillery and Philosophy Stonewall Jackson standing guard over Matthew, Mark, Luke, John combat veterans of the Mexican and Civil Wars. Keeping an eye on things down range.

To which, my classmate posed the question: “Why?”

To which I answered, “To prepare novitiate Army officers to be able to make a multitude of decisions under pressure.”

He graded my answer at B+. I protested and he upped my grade to an A-.

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08/5/18

Control – SNAP, an exemplar in control

Big Red Car here filled to overflowing with a good church sermon. I will have to digest it a bit.

So, one of the things the Big Red Car preaches to his CEO coaching clients is, “Retain control of your company at all costs. When you lose control, the probability of your being replaced goes up astronomically.”

This is what the Big Red Car says when a venture capitalist wants to make an investment resulting in an “after money” equity ownership of 20%, but wants two seats on a five-man Board of Directors.

“Uhhh, CEO, if the VC owns 20% then he gets 20% of the board seats. That’s one, not two!”

Interestingly enough, CEOs seem to always win this argument. This is a matter of control.

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08/2/18

CEO Shoptalk – Traits of Leaders

Big Red Car here on a beautiful, sunny Thursday. Ahhh, on Earth as it is in Texas, y’all.

So, I’m at church on Sunday listening to the sermon – I love and desperately need a good sermon – and it inspires me to think about some of the traits of great leaders – not “good” GREAT!

I come up with four traits which seem to separate the great from the good and the mediocre.

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05/30/18

CEO Shoptalk – Pruning the Organization

Pruning the organization, Big Red Car? Huh?

Big Red Car here on a gray day in the ATX. Just let that haze burn off, y’all.

Today, we talk to and about CEOs/founders/entrepreneurs who have spent a couple of years building an organization, have some revenue, and about 1-400 employees.

You know who I’m talking to, don’t you?

You are not quite happy with everything, but you have customers, revenue, a viable product, and you’re building your company.

Now, it’s time to do some pruning. Pruning the organization.

Even the Angel Oak outside Charleston could use some pruning? Don’t you dare touch this tree. There is a debate as to its age. Some say it is 500 years old. Some say it is 1500 years old. It was there before the American Revolution.

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