05/21/19

The Energy Source v The Energy Sink Theory of Life

Big Red Car here on a wet Austin By God Texas day. It is May, y’all, and it is time to contemplate the Memorial Day floods.

Here is a pic from the 1981 Memorial Day floods, my first personal intro to the phenomenon. This pic is taken at the bridge in front of Hut’s Hamburgers, home of some of the best burgers on the planet. There were car lots next to Shoal Creek and hundreds of cars ended up in the creek.

Image result for images austin texas memorial day floods

When you come to Austin, you are going to want to get a Hut’s Hamburger. Trust me on this. Get the hickory burger.

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05/17/19

Fountain of Youth v Fountain of Wisdom/Experience — For CEOs Only

Grayish, cool day in the ATX which gets me thinking about the journey a startup CEO makes from ignorance to wisdom — OK, you do know that’s the journey, right?

As a young leader, I knew next to nothing about everything — so I thought, but I did have an advantage as I’d been in the Army for five years and had run largish outfits. My last command was 600 men in a unit that should have been 186 (The Army was contracting form Vietnam War levels and discharging a lot of draftees. I housed, fed, trained, disciplined them until their magic date arrived — a wild bunch. What a nightmare.).

Truly, everything I ever needed to know to be a CEO I learned in that assignment, but I just didn’t know it. I was 25.

I was young and dumb. I was drinking from the Fountain of Youth and Inexperience. There was a long line to get a cup of that stuff.

Some thirty-three years later, I was filled to overflowing with wisdom and experience, so much so that today I advise startup CEOs and assist venture capitalists prying their fully funded oxen out of ditches.

I can’t quite put my finger on when I stopped bathing in the Fountain of Youth and took up station in the Fountain of Wisdom and Experience. I just know I did.

OK, it was probably five years until I even knew there was such a thing.

Read your Malcolm Gladwall Outliers to learn why it takes five years.

Outliers: The Story of Success by [Gladwell, Malcolm]

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04/17/19

The Character Traits and Skills of the Successful CEO — Accountability

Cool day in the ATX and I like it. So, we are back to talking to and about CEOs. One of the most important elements of a successful company derives from the CEO’s creation of an environment of accountability.

Accountability is a two way street — the accountability of those from on high to those they serve and those served to those on high. Let me translate that: accountability goes up, down, and sideways.

Accountability? I’m confused, Big Red Car

OK, we have different levels of accountability:

 1. The bosses are accountable to the workers.

 2. The workers are accountable to the bosses for doing their jobs and accomplishing their objectives.

 3. Everyone is accountable to their peers.

 4. The CEO is uniquely accountable to the Board of Directors.

 5. The Board of Directors is accountable to the shareholders and the CEO.

One point that is essential — it takes a long time to develop an all-encompassing environment of accountability, but there are elements of it that should be in place from the beginning. Let’s break it down.

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12/16/18

Recruiting v Hiring

Big Red Car here on a day with brilliant sunshine, bit of a chill, and off to church to pray for all of us. Glorious Sunday!

So, the other day we were talking with some overcaffeinated CEOs about hiring.

One point that was left off was the utilization of recruiting as a part of the hiring mindset.

Image result for images of lions

This is you with a candidate in recruiting mode. You are a beast, the King of the Jungle. But, hey, you knew that, right?

When the lion lays down with the lamb, the lamb is not going to get much sleep. Recruitment, back on topic.

Stop — recruiting is different than hiring.

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12/10/18

I Did the Best I Could

Big Red Car here on a cold, sunny day in the ATX. Brrrr, 58F.

So, I’m in conversation with a trio of CEOs who have in common that they tried to fix something and didn’t quite get it fixed correctly the first time.

They came back with a longer rope and a bigger hammer and fixed it.

They were distraught that they hadn’t gotten it right on the first try.

To which your Big Red Car asked, “Did you do the best you could?”

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11/30/18

CEO Shoptalk – Screws v Nails

Screws v nails, Big Red Car? What’s going on down there in the ATX?

Well, dear reader, it’s going to be 80F and I may have to turn the A/C back on for a few hours. How goes the weather where you are?

So, I have been reading a bit of CS Forester (The African Queen, Horatio Hornblower). This is an author from a long time ago with whom an educated person should be familiar. If you have ever aspired to be a professional soldier — guilty — then you have to read The General (written in 1936, $1.99 Kindle or free if you have Prime).

The General, a novel, is a study in the poor quality of the generalship in the British Army during World War I. It is required reading for those who must balance the authoritarian comfort zone of military leadership with a more results oriented approach.

For the enlightened reader, it is a story of leadership preparation, the failures of “the system,” leadership style, authenticity of leadership voice, and results.

The General (C. S. Forester novel) book cover.jpg

If you have been in the Army and have read this book, you understand exactly what I am saying. If not, then you are in for a treat.

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10/26/18

Typical CEO Coaching Process

CEO coaching, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here on a grayish morning. I wonder if the guy who has been praying for rain is happy yet?

Hey, stop praying for rain.

So, the Big Red Car gets a longish email from a pal who gives him a hard time about his subject matter on The Musings of the Big Red Car. Says he wants to hear what a typical coaching process looks like.

To get rid of him, I promise to do that.

I hang out a shingle under the name of The Wisdom of the Campfire because I like the picture of sitting next to a campfire and absorbing wisdom from others gathered next to it. It’s an easy picture as I lived it in places like the DMZ in South Korea or Grafenwohr in Bavaria when I was a young Army officer.

The Wisdom of the Campfire is the imagery of what I do. I want to be that guy at the edge of the campfire, with 33 years of CEO-ing, who can talk you through the process based not on theory, but on real world experience.

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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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