04/1/19

Believing — An Essential Leadership Skill

This is the big month for a few things — Christianity, college basketball, and CEOs. It is all about believing.

For Christians, Easter is the essence of their belief. Jesus came to Earth to atone for our sins, lived amongst us, taught, provided a living example, offered a few miracles for the disbelievers, was crucified, died, and buried. On the third day, He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father to judge the living and the dead.

If you are a Christian you believe the preceding paragraph to be a true statement. That belief — faith — is the glue that holds your life together. It is, literally, what makes you a Christ follower.

If you are a college basketball fan, next weekend is the Final Four and you believe with all your heart that your team is going to win it all.

You have had a tough time of it as the #1 seeds have been decimated — Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga — leaving only Virginia to represent the elite and the Atlantic Coast Conference. ACC had three #1 seeds and only one remains.

You — like me — have been forced to transfer your allegiance to, say, Auburn University. War Eagle!

Image result for war eagle images

[Allow me to digress for just a second, WAR EAGLE! Is that a great motto or what? I went to a military school and we never came up with WAR EAGLE! Auburn was, once upon a time, a military school, but still. WAR EAGLE!]

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03/13/19

You Are All Alone

Nice warm day in the ATX after a morning of rain. Ahh, On Earth as it is in Texas! It’s SXSW time in the ATX.

As a founder, entrepreneur, CEO there are times — most of the time — when you must rely solely upon yourself. You are all alone.

Even when you are a member of a team, at times you are all alone because you are the decider.

This is not a bad thing; it is just a thing. You can relax knowing that every other founder, entrepreneur, CEO has had the same feeling.

That feeling — when the butterflies in your gut become condors and they try to slice their way out with their sharp talons. Your stomach is an acid pit and your breath is like kerosene.

It is real, but you can handle it. Learning to rely upon your own judgment is critical.

I am not counseling you to ignore advice. Solicit advice, but know that sometimes, you will jump alone.

Here is a video of a stick of paratroopers (with equipment) getting ready to jump over White Sands as part of a training exercise. Every soldier who approaches that door is a member of a team, but when they jump they make that decision alone. You as a founder, entrepreneur, CEO will make that same decision.

You got this, trust me.

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01/3/19

Inspiration – Beginning a New Year

Big Red Car here on a brilliant, sunny Thursday in the New Year. 2019, YOUR year!

Every new year I look for inspiration and for inspiration for my clients. I always find inspiration in Churchill. Surprised?

No, the guy saved the Western World from the scourge of the Nazis at a time when the English had gotten their teeth kicked in by the Germans in France.

After he had overseen the cobbled together evacuation of the English army by pleasure boat across the Channel, he was faced with leading a scared nation whose army had left their heavy weapons in France.

Image result for images churchill

Look into those eyes. See what it looks like to stare down evil, to deliver a message to the Nazis of ultimate, complete, total, unconditional surrender.

Hitler was readying an airborne and seaborne invasion of England called Sea Lion.

So what did Churchill do?

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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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04/24/18

CEO Shoptalk – Staying in Your Lane

Staying in your lane, Big Red Car? Huh?

Big Red Car here on a lovely, sunny Texas Spring day. On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all!

So, the Big Red Car talks to CEOs all the time and I am seeing an odd trend. CEOs are wandering a bit.

They wander a bit because they are successful and they wander a bit because they are not.

When they are successful, they wander because they can afford to do it. [Pro tip: We never make as many mistakes when we are broke. We can’t afford to.]

When they are struggling, they wander because they are looking for that inflection point which will put their compass on the azimuth to the Promised Land.

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04/23/18

Revenue, the Essential Nature of Revenue

Revenue. Big Red Car here to talk about revenue. Y’all love revenue as much as the Big Red Car loves revenue?

I think you do.

If you whip out your accounting text, you will read first about operating and non-operating revenue. Scratch a little harder, you will learn about sales, rent, dividends, and interest.

If you are really on your game, you may stumble on “contra” revenue. Contra revenue is discounts and returns.

For what we are doing — startups — the revenue picture is slightly different. Let’s bring it into focus, shall we?

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04/23/18

Building a Fundraising Database

Building a fundraising database, a perfect subject for an incredibly lovely Monday morning in the ATX. Cool, crisp, sunny — ahhh, on Earth as it is is Texas!

So, you are ready to begin fundraising. You need a target list, a database of potential investors. This is true whether you are in the family & friends, angels, syndicated angels, seed funders, or venture capitalists arena. You need to identify the funders.

So, how do you do it?

In our example, I will build on ten such campaigns I have assisted entrepreneurs in the last year.

Remember, you are dealing with people whose job is to invest money. If they don’t invest money, they don’t keep their job. You, dear entrepreneur, are helping them keep their job.

 

It is hard work, but it is not a difficult task.

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04/16/18

Making the Right Decisions v Making Decisions Right

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Are you making decisions right? Are you taking the right decisions?

OK, y’all, Big Red Car here on a crisp, sunny Texas spring day. On Earth as it is in Texas!

Today, I am pondering a conversation I had last week with a seasoned CEO who I have known for several years. We worked together and I watched him become an extraordinary CEO. It was a wonder to behold.

Early in our relationship, I sent him my standard “beginning a relationship” questions. It’s called the Startup Company and Small Company Checklist.

The way it works is I want the CEO to read the questions to see whether he can answer them. Not to assign homework, but to give him an idea of how others view the framework of a startup. It is always illuminating to have the first discussion after they read that document.

You can find it and other useful stuff here: FREE STUFF

Just scan it, don’t answer it.

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02/24/18

Reading – For CEOs Only

Reading, what king of reading for a CEO?

Big Red Car here talking only to CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs and innocent bystanders.

What is one to read when they are a CEO? What works, entertains, and teaches.

The Big Red Car sayeth: “Read military history, particularly biographical books. You, Madame CEO, are a similar crisis leader.”

Here’s a new favorite: General Oliver Prince Smith, USMC.

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10/11/17

Layoffs — CEO Shoptalk

Layoffs are never fun. Here’s how to think about and do it.

So, it is gorgeous in the ATX — high 0f 78F, currently sunny and 67F. On Earth as it is in Texas! A day to eat outside.

So, we spoke earlier about firing folks for cause, remember?

Firing People — CEO Shoptalk

Today, we follow up on that by talking about layoffs. Layoffs are “not for cause” terminations, while firing people is “for cause.” Know the distinction. Either way, it is a hard day at Slippery Rock when you have to fire or layoff folks.

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09/28/17

Critique — CEO Shoptalk

Everybody needs a good critique, right? Ahhh, criticism is the breakfast of champions, no?

Big Red Car here on a cloudy Texas day. Only going to be in the low 80s today. Time to start thinking about the swimming pool, eh? Haha, Hell no. Swimming today, y’all.

So when you’re a CEO you will receive and give critiques. Makes sense, no? Performance appraisal — feedback — is the breakfast of champions.

Today, I want to get your mind right about how to receive this when it is you being critiqued. Ready?

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09/12/17

Editing for CEOs — CEO Shoptalk

Editing for CEOs, Big Red Car? Huh?

Big Red Car here on a perfect Austin By God Texas morning, y’all. Day for a long run with the top down in the 70F weather? Indeed!

OK, today, we talk about editing in the context of finally getting you to commit to writing the Strategy for your company, dear CEO. Just a first draft.

That is Strategy in the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture continuum with a side of crawl, walk, run. Whew! That is a mouthful.

Nothing is done until it is done and that means you have to edit it. So what exactly does that mean?

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09/2/17

Strategy — First Draft

Strategy — let’s get you writing that First Draft, shall we? First, let’s figure out where it fits.

Big Red Car here on a sunny, dry ATX morning. Sun is shining, but it is cool. Maybe the summer is over? Haha, you’re so silly. This is Texas. Summer doesn’t end until October 23.

OK, so I keep getting folks who don’t get where Strategy fits into the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture continuum.

I want to help y’all, so I made a picture of it for you.  Continue reading

08/30/17

Entrepreneurial Energy — CEO Shoptalk

Entrepreneurial energy, Big Red Car? What is that?

Stay with me, beloved readers, all in due time.

Big Red Car here in the ATX in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — son-of-a-bitch. Fifty inches of rain?

Lots of leaves in the swimming pool, lot of rain, trees down in the hood, the ATX endured nothing compared to the Coast and Houston. God bless Port A, Rockport, Corpus Christi, Houston. It will be a long recovery, but this is Texas and Texas will recover.

I particularly want to compliment Mayor Turner of Houston (all mayors), Governor Abbott, President Trump, the Texas National Guard, the Cajun Navy, and everyone who got wet in Houston serving their fellow man. Y’all are what makes Texas Texas.

Good luck, Godspeed, God bless Texas!

So, entrepreneurial energy, what is it?

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08/25/17

Writing Strategy — CEO Shoptalk

How does a new CEO write Strategy? First, she gets her mind right. Here’s how.

Big Red Car here expecting Hurricane Harvey this weekend. Likely won’t get to the ATX until Tuesday. Whoa, Nellie!

Pray for those along the Gulf Coast who will be dealing with the first hurricane to hit Texas since Ike in 2008. Governor Abbott has already designated thirty Texas coastal counties as disaster areas. The Feds are already pouring into the fray. Well played, FEMA.

So, the Big Red Car is constantly talking to CEOs about their Strategy — the Strategy for their company. It is, sometimes, a confusing and disjointed talk.

We see CEOs having no problem with Vision and Mission, but the second it turns to documenting their Strategy, things go haywire.

The objective today is to get you in the right frame of mind to write your Strategy. Not to write it, but just get into the right frame of mind to be able to write it.

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08/6/17

Heads Up — CEO Shoptalk

Heads Up, Big Red Car? Really?

Big Red Car here on a muggy Sunday morning which is a little gray. We get the cooler temps in return for the grayness. Fair trade?

So, the Big Red Car, has spent the last couple of hours removing cast iron sinks from black granite countertops in anticipation of new countertops — Carrara marble — on Wednesday!

[Big Red Car’s vision of Hell is removing cast iron sinks (weigh 400 lbs) with a plastic putty knife and spit, bare hands.]

But, that’s not what we want to talk about, is it?

No, we want to talk about a CEO with his head down working his butt off. [You may re-gender the “his” to “her” at your leisure.]

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08/2/17

Flying Solo — For CEOs Only, CEO Shoptalk

Flying solo, Big Red Car? Where did that come from?

Big Red Car here on a cool and gray ATX day. Only getting to 88F today, downright cool. Hot tub tonight for the BRC? Hell, yes!

OK, so there are a number of analogies between flying airplanes and startups — takeoff, reaching cruise, landing. Startup, scale, exit?

One of the most apt analogies is the idea of FLYING SOLO.

Me, the Big Red Car, and the Bonanza with the cross country tip tanks hanging talking aviation v startup mojo. Yeah, I’m looking pretty damn RED.

In life, one doesn’t receive power, one TAKES power. Think about that for a second. Flying solo is about taking power.

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07/26/17

Training — Baron von Steuben Style for CEOs

Training again, Big Red Car? Really?

OK, dear reader, we will have one last crack at training for the CEO. Promise.

Today, we discuss Baron von Steuben. You know the Baron, right? Drillmaster of Valley Forge, no?

Get this book by Paul Lockhart. Great read. Been around for some time and it is a great book to inspire a CEO.

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07/23/17

Training — like the Rangers, training for the startup

Training table for the Big Red Car today — looking forward to a nice steak with a 10W40 mushroom sauce.  We are talking training today for both the Rangers and the startup.

So, in the continuum of crawl, walk, run — somewhere about the walk to run transformation, the startup should start thinking about training.

If you look at this picture of these sharp Rangers, the difference between them and the rest of the straight leg Army is the quality of their training. They train to their mission.

U.S. Army Rangers with the 75th Ranger Regiment make up the “honor platoon” in a funeral procession to the gravesite of Gen. (retired) Wayne A. Downing during his internment service at West Point, NY, Sept. 27, 2007.

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