07/10/19

The Whine Line Protocol

The Whine Line Procotol, Big Red Car? Do tell.

So, your Big Red Car was engaged in a bit of  discussion and blog reading in which the subject of how to deal with problem hires or heretics — do not dig that word in this context — was bandied about.

A couple of things came to light, but the most important is this — dealing with employees both good and not so good is a normal part of CEOing.

Your generation did not invent sex or business; dealing with less than perfect employees is not a problem unique to your outfit. It is just a normal part of CEOing, and you got that gig.

Employees are dynamic. Your star marketing person may become your challenge and vice versa. Here are you and the employees on good days.

It is all just part of running a team, a company, CEOing. It is normal and you don’t need to be firing people for a little whining. The challenge is to keep the whining within a tolerable level.

That requires you to develop your own personal Whine Line Protocol.

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07/1/19

CEO Shoptalk — Situational Awareness

CEOs have a hard job. Keeping it is one of the most difficult parts of the job. Keeping your job as a CEO may depend on your ability to understand the situation — something pilots call “situational awareness.”

In an airplane, you have several instruments that an instrument-trained pilot scans to determine the situation — speed, direction, level flight, climbing, descending, fuel status, GPS (redundant), and George (George is the autopilot). I have taken to calling George Georgette.

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06/2/19

CEO Shoptalk — Mistake Amnesia

One of the first things I do when I take on a new CEO client is to ask, “What percentage of your decisions are good?”

I get two answers: forty-five percent or ninety percent. [True.]

I ask the same question of the same CEOs some time after we’ve been working together.

I get two answers:

 1. The former 90%-ers now say, “Forty-five percent.”

 2. The former 45%-ers now say, “About the same, maybe 50%, but now I know why.”

In making decisions, CEOs are going to make a lot of bad ones. If you follow the math above, more bad decisions than good decisions.

How do you get rid of the overhang of bad decisions? Mistake Amnesia!

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05/28/19

CEO Shoptalk — Perspective

Rains are coming because it’s the end of May and it’s Austin By God Texas. Like a bit of rain.

So, two CEOs are talking and we get into a chat about the difference between young/first time CEOs and experienced/serial CEOs.

I hazard the following, “Think it’s perspective.” There are a few other thoughts, but we keep circling back to perspective.

Serial CEOs know what is important — and they are better at it — because they have done it before. They made the mistakes, paid full tuition for the education.

On the heels of the Memorial Day post yesterday, I got a few emails from CEOs (former clients) who said the same thing, essentially, paraphrasing: “You were doing very different things than we were doing at the same age — early to mid-twenties. I assume it gave you a different perspective on things.”

Old lions and new lions are lions, but they have a different perspective on things.

Please note this is a nuclear lion family. They live in Llano, Texas. What is each of the lions thinking about.

Daddy lion is thinking about the checklist for the board meeting (he read the Checkist Manifesto as a cub and knows it works) and making sure the meeting docs are in the DropBox. He’s also thinking he needs to talk to those tigers in marketing to make damn sure they are following the agreed to process.

Momma lion is pondering whether Insta or FB is the way to go on marketing. She’s thinking about whether to have another cub, but is worried about the dilution if she has to raise capital.

Cub lion is thinking — “Wow, that looks cool. Maybe I should re-do my logo? Or become a B Corporation, cause that’s way cool. A blog — maybe start writing a blog.”

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03/30/19

Managing Expectations and Messaging

I wish I were not using President Donald J Trump as an exemplar for part of my blog post, as it is not intended for a political discussion, but rather for the CEO and his/her slice of capitalism.

As a CEO, two of the elements of your company that can be (must be?) managed are expectations and messaging. They are intimately related.

As a CEO, you are converting a Vision into a Mission and creating Strategy, Tactics, Objectives in a framework of Values which define a Culture.

Click on this graphic to see it at larger scale. It shows how these things are related. There is both structure and process at work here.

I often find that CEOs are comforted when they are able to see how all of these concepts are related and work together. It proves up the structural elements of your rapidly evolving process.

 

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10/21/18

Jeff Bezos on Decisionmaking

Big Red Car here with the skies clear and the sun shining. Let’s see how long that holds. We need to dry out here in the ATX and the Texas Hill Country.

So, your Big Red Car has always been keen on the science of making decisions. This is a topic first explored when in the Army and watching the decisionmaking techniques and practices of battalions, brigades, and divisions. Only once was I exposed to how a corps (3-5 divisions) makes decisions.

Today, we discuss the wisdom of the Bezos Style of Decisionmaking. He is a wildly successful founder and executive, so we should pay attention to how he suggests things might be done.

Image result for images jeff bezos

Jeff Bezos has strong and “different” views on the subject.

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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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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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07/28/18

Respect the Process

Respect the process? WTF are you talking about, Big Red?

Big Red Car here supervising the plumbers. Saturday plumbers always require a lot of supervision, but, hey, so what?

There is a new soaking tub going in and the plumbing change is quite extensive. They are doing work below the second floor and above the first floor ceiling – makes me a little nervous.

So, I’m melding a lot of recent conversations with CEO clients. They are all smart and hardworking, but, sometimes, not often, but, sometimes, they don’t stick to their knitting.

They don’t respect the process.

Did NOT RESPECT THE PROCESS

This creates problems which they then fix consuming twice as much time as if they had just respected the process in the first place.

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05/17/18

Experience, Addressable Experience

What is addressable experience? Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here on another glorious Thursday in the ATX in which the sun shines, the breeze blows, and life flourishes. On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all.

So, I’m visiting with a gray haired eminence former CEO who is an old pal. We get on the issue of experience.

How much is enough?

How much is too much?

How much is relevant?

How much is addressable?

It was an interesting conversation. Between the two of us, we have more than seventy years of CEO-ing. That is a lot of time, a lot of experience.

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05/16/18

CEO Shoptalk — Great Startup CEO

Are you a great startup CEO?

OK, so the Big Red Car gets asked often, “Tell me, wise and red Big Red Car, what makes a great startup CEO?”

Like most things in the startup world, there is not a single, correct answer, plus the Big Red Car is lazy and doesn’t want to do the work.

But, now somebody asked the question in a way I cannot dodge. So, here goes.

What makes a great startup CEO, Big Red Car? Tell me.

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05/12/18

Founder Fog

Founder fog. Weather report in startup world is calling for founder fog? Huh?

Big Red Car here on a glorious Saturday morning in the ATX – Austin By God Texas.

Up early with contractors arriving to do some renovation work and the new granddaughter, Tempe, known as Baby T. She is a Southern girl from Savannah.

Baby Tempe and Gwantpa discussing Founder Fog with red-headed momma on her second startup at the elegant and delicious Tiny Boxwoods, Austin, Texas

So, I have had four conversations with founders in the last month in which there is a common issue which I shall call the fog of founderdom.

How does it manifest itself, Big Red Car, you ask? Let me tell you.

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04/29/18

CEO Shoptalk – Energy

Energy, today we focus on energy.

Big Red Car here after an afternoon of menial labor. I like menial labor, I do.

So, today we talk about how a startup, a small business, or a medium size business deals with energy.

First, there are energy sources and energy sinks. An energy sink is an absorber of energy. We will come back to this issue of energy sinks. Now, we focus on creating, maintaining, and multiplying energy.

Here is an example of a dragon projecting energy, hence, the name “dragon energy.” Haha, Kanye and Donald, both DRAGON ENERGY.

Fire breathing dragons are sources of energy. Usually, they have eaten burritos with jalapenos.

Every enterprise is, essentially, an energy equation. Let’s apply that to business, shall we?

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04/19/18

CEO Shoptalk – Setting Standards

There is much to be learned about setting standards by looking at how successful companies do just that.

OMG, it is so damn beautiful in Austin By God Texas, y’all.

Today, we talk about CEOs setting standards taking our inspiration from the recent Amazon shareowner letter which revealed that Amazon Prime had surpassed 100,000,000 members (Big Red Car is one of them).

Here is a link to the Amazon Shareowner 2017 Letter. Read it after you finish this post.

There are a number of interesting things to focus on, but today, I want to focus on the issue of setting standards.

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02/13/18

Reading – CEO Shoptalk

One of the keys to personal development and success in business is reading, y’all.

Big Red Car here on a early Tuesday morning (40F headed to 49F and cloudy) with a lot to do today, but I will find the time to read for an hour today without fail.

Reading is the difference between being the King of the Jungle or a cub. Not bad to be a cub, but you, dear reader, want to be the King of the Jungle, don’t you?

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10/26/17

Exit Interview — CEO Shoptalk

Exit interview, y’all?

Hello, dear readers. It is 66F here in Austin By God Texas. It is clear, crisp, and lovely. It is sweater weather.

So, the last couple of posts we have discussed how to fire and layoff employees.

When you part company with an employee, a useful exercise is conducting an exit interview. An exit interview may provide a soon-to-be-former employee an opportunity to harness their candor and tell you some things they might not if they were dependent upon you for their next paycheck.

The question is how to conduct the exit interview?

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