Big Red Car here in a bright, sunny ATX masterpiece. We will be talking about CEOs today. Ahh, the poor, lonely CEO.
So, The Boss likes to go to Lakehills Church out on the edge of Austin toward the Hill Country. Never takes the Big Red Car because somebody doesn’t like getting their church hair messed up, but I listen in through the electronics in the Lexus. A Big Red Car has a long reach, y’all.
So, the pastor gives a sermon and mentions a favorite passage from Proverbs:
“As iron sharpens iron,
So, one person (friend) sharpens another.”
It is intended in a Biblical and religious way to lobby for the assembly of Christians to further their faith, but the Big Red Car is thinking of it from a different perspective.
CEOs are different
CEOs are different in the context that within the companies they operate they have a shortage of peers with whom to relate. They have nobody to sharpen themselves with.
To overcome this issue, the Big Red Car counsels three things:
1. Join a peer group or more than one. Get some friends with whom to sharpen your CEOing.
2. Find a good CEO coach and work with them on a regular basis. Make a friend with whom to do some sharpening.
3. Do not make the mistake of confiding in someone, such as a board member, who can fire you. If you can’t sharpen, don’t dull or break your cutting edge.
Take your CEO self and join groups like YPO (Young Presidents Organization — there are qualification criteria), Vistage International, or The Alternative Board.
There are other locally sponsored groups at the local Chamber of Commerce. Take a look there.
These groups have meaningful annual or monthly fees, so approach it as an investment in …………………………. you. Can you think of a better investment?
This puts you into contact with other CEOs and you can develop a handy resource to deal with CEO problems. These friends can help you sharpen your CEO skills. [They may also validate your notion that you’re not such a bad CEO after all. Hell, you might be pretty damn good.]
Find a CEO coach who has actually been a CEO. Do not take CEO advice from a lawyer, accountant, venture capitalist. Take CEO advice from someone who has actually been a CEO.
Taking CEO advice from a lawyer, accountant, venture capitalist is like taking advice on flying an airplane from someone who has flown 1,000,000 miles in first class. They were close to the cockpit, but they never had their hands on the yoke, the throttle, or the GPS. They were strap hangers.
A former CEO coach will provide what is perhaps the most important thing any CEO can ever learn — CEOing is more art than science and there are times you hate it. There are times you go home and ask, “Did I actually volunteer to do this? Am I supposed to feel this shitty?”
The experienced CEO coach will say, “Sorry, pal, that’s normal. Suck it up and drive on. Better days ahead.”
Sometimes, in life, we need a good dose of reality and a kick in the butt. Then, y’all can break into a chorus or two of “Tomorrow” from Annie. Why not?
An experienced CEO coach also knows that nobody bats a thousand.
Who not to befriend, Big Red Car?
Do not pour your soul out to people who can fire you — venture capitalists, investors, board members.
This is simple self-preservation and recognition that these folks first loyalty is to their money.
Being a CEO is hard enough without providing ammunition to the folks who may want to shoot you one day.
And, dear CEO, there it is.