03/23/17

The Power of Monkey See – Monkey Do — For CEOs Only

Monkey See, Monkey Do — Big Red Car, have you lost our mind?

Big Red Car here on another spectacular Texas day in the making. On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all. [Does that irritate you?]

So, The Boss is talking to a newish CEO and they get on the subject of performance appraisals. The Boss was a CEO for 33 years and in that time period appraised a lot of performances.

The subject isn’t really about performance appraisals. The subject is about using easy tools to do most of the work. To find things that work and mimic the Hell out of them. To stop re-inventing the wheel. Sheesh!

[Normally, the Big Red Car will say, “Your generation didn’t invent sex or business, dear reader.” But, today, I will not.]

Performance appraisal is one of those subjects that rears its ugly head every few years and somebody adds a twist (360-degree performance, full moon appraisals being one of the most recent) which is supposed to make already sliced bread even better. [Big Red Car, a lot of tired ass cliches today. WTF?]

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03/19/17

CEO — Learning To Walk

Big Red Car here in the ATX during SXSW, Texas bluebonnets, azaleas blooming, March Madness, and a bit of spring skiing? Is this a great country — Texas, I mean — or what?

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Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush co-existing in the Hill Country west of Fredericksburg. Peak bluebonnet is a few days away.

OK, so The Boss is talking to a youngish CEO.

“I may not be cut out to be a CEO,” says the youngish CEO. “Maybe, I’m just not CEO material.”

This CEO is actually quite brilliant but the CEO-ing gig is kicking his ass right now.

The Boss listens. A lot of dealing with momentarily troubled CEOs is letting the poison out and that requires a lot of listening. Sometimes, they need to be talked in off the ledge.

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03/8/17

CEO Reflections

Big Red Car here in the ATX feeling a little cloudy — ooops, that’s the weather. Me, I feel marvelous. Let’s talk about the first time CEO, shall we?

So, I catch The Boss talking to a pal the other day. They were Second Lieutenants in a combat engineer unit in the Republic of Korea back in the early 1970s.

 

The Proper Young Lieutenant

The proper young lieutenant, having just landed in a rice paddy fertilized with “night soil.” If you recognize those “soiled” boots as Corcoran Jump Boots, then you have a sharp eye. Stroke of good luck, landing standing up, because of the aforenoted night soil.

 

It was a dicey time and they were both platoon leaders. Both of them would end up as Captains within 18-24 months, which was pretty damn fast even for those days.

“So, when did you first think you knew what you were doing?” asked The Boss’s compadre.

“I’ll get back to you when that happens.”

They laughed.

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03/6/17

Advice Redux — CEOs Only

Big Red Car here working on a few wire taps, wait, no I’m not. I’m getting ready to give y’all some free advice.

We talked about advice a lot in the past few years, but it’s probably alright to update our thinking just a little, why not?

So, CEOs need advice from time to time. Why, you ask? Because a lot of startup CEOs are in their twenties and do not have a deep font of life experience upon which to draw to develop their own thoughts. This is not fatal. This is just being young and being young is good. Most of the time.

Experience is expensive. Renting experience — advice — is cheaper. Plus, you can get someone who’s been a CEO for two or three decades to lend you their advice.

Big takeaway — get advice from someone who has actually been a CEO.

Not your dentist, your shrink, some accountant (unless it’s accounting advice), father-in-law (unless he’s an experienced CEO), not a lawyer (unless it’s legal advice), not a VC (unless it’s pitching or funding advice and even then someone who has been seated n your side of the table may be more helpful) — someone who has been a CEO.

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02/13/17

Employee Retention III — For CEOs Only

Big Red Car here in a Grammy swoon. Didn’t watch them at all. Sorry.

The BRC got a lot of emails about — the difference amongst Strategy, Tactics, Objectives.

I sent the emailers here: Strategy v Tactics v Objectives for Startups << link.

Somebody wrote to me, “That’s simple, BRC. Can you make it even simpler? Please?”

Huh? Go read that. It’s pretty damn simple, but being the accommodating chap I am, here goes.

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02/12/17

Problems and Owning Them — CEOs Only

Big Red Car here on a listless Sunday afternoon. Been to church for a good sermon, wondering if the minister was talking directly to or about ME. That hurts. I think he wastalking about me.

So, The Boss is talking to a lot of new client CEOs and there is a troubling new development bubbling up. Not really troubling, but noteworthy.

You must own your problems if you are going to deal with and overcome them. This is different than saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

Go read: Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys — Advice for CEOs << link 

The Boss is always reminded of a time when he was in the Army when a pal of his, in a moment of extremis, said, “Hold my beer. I’ve got to deal with this.”

“This” was a couple of long-haired-ruffians of the City of Brotherly Love bar fight scene who did not like soldiers, a common enough occurrence at the time. The odds were a little out of balance — two of them, one soldier. The Boss was available as a reinforcement, but his pal said, “I own this problem and I’ll fix it.”

There was some theorem of calculus or quantum physics which gave rise to the clash of ideas. I can’t remember exactly. In the end, the soldier (a Ranger School grad) handled the problem quite nicely though The Boss did drink his beer. Bought him another one.

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11/23/16

Finish Strong

Finish strong, Big Red? [I like calling you Big Red rather than Big Red Car, seems so much more familiar and folksy, no?]

Big Red Car here on the strength of a trip to NYC to conduct recon on the comings and goings of our nation’s first capital. You did know that, right? NYC was our first capital.

So, The Boss is talking to several CEOs — brilliant persons all — and I (eavesdropper that I am) overhear a common lament: CEOs are struggling to find the finish line in the development of their products. This happens across the board whether it is a bit of software alchemy or a website or a product. Or, even, an organizational development, like hiring some more salespersons.

You have to force a finish line and you have to finish strong.

Big Red Car, can you ‘splain that, please?

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10/23/16

Inspiration, a Thimbleful, Please?

Inspiration, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here on a crisp — 54F at 5:00 AM — Texas morning. Ahhh, fall in Texas is a grand thing.

So, a year ago, The Boss is talking to one of his CEO clients and they get talking about a new hire.

This CEO runs an excellent company which he has for more than ten years. He is not a typical startup CEO and the company is profitable (always a good thing), routinely dropping 20% to the bottom line for years and years.

The company is growing at a steady rate but is poised for higher growth.

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