Big Red Car here on a glorious and unusually sunny day in the ATX. On Earth as it is in Texas, y’all!
So The Boss is engaged in a convo with a brilliant CEO about a month ago and it resonates in his head until it finally makes its way to his brain — oh, oh that may not be too diplomatic, Big Red Car?
A CEO has voices in his head which she must learn to ignore and some that the same CEO needs to embrace. Do tell, Big Red Car? [Those keeping score at home, the “he” and “she” were on purpose. OK, now back to our regular programming.}
Voices to ignore — perfect fighting with good
When you are a CEO and functioning as a CEO running your company with a filled out org chart, there are some things that will never be resolved. Here are a few:
1. Nobody will ever be paid enough. Nobody’s compensation will ever be too much. Nobody will ever tell you during a performance appraisal, “I’m way over paid and I desperately need a pay cut.”
Do not waste time with this voice. Banish it.
2. Sales will never think the price is low enough or that the breadth and depth of the service or product is broad enough. Ever.
Everybody in sales will want to give the customer more at a lower price. This is actually what Eve said to Adam that got them kicked out of the Garden of Eden. The Holy Ghost got tired of hearing Eve’s sales rant.
Every time your bunch ever misses their goal, it will be because there was a snowstorm in NYC or some other external force. It will never be because they suck or were lazy.
3. EBITDA will always be a more voluptuous siren than earnings cause it was invented for just that purpose. Don’t fall into the trap. Fill the trap in and drive on.
It is like a surgically enhanced bust line, it was invented to look like something Mothah Nature didn’t intend.
4. Your Board will leave you alone when you are rocking and rolling and have unlimited possibilities but they will be there to count the paper clips when you are struggling.
You will count and recount paper clips with guys who have never, ever run anything but who have degrees from Harvard and zero operational or CEO experience.
Listen, nod, be polite, reject those voices.
5. You will never make peace between your CFO and your biz dev or acquisition folks. It is not possible.
Instead, find the width of the chalk stripe and operate within that width. It is where sanity summers and genius winters. Stay there.
You get the idea, right?
Bottom lining it for you — ignore these voices.
Voices to entertain
On the other hand, sometimes the voices are giving you ideas that require some serious consideration.
1. You are disrupting something or fixing a big pain point. Yes, you are.
Keep on turning over rocks and taking a look at what is there. In the fly fishing game, it is called “matching the hatch” cause you see what the fish see and then you tie on a fly to match what the fish see.
Let the voices guide you to find out what the fish/customers see.
2. No really good idea is waiting for you in the bottom of that skinny latte. But, a cup of Joe, a Moleskine notebook, a 5mm pen can make stuff up that will actually be worth considering.
Brainstorm. Brainstorm. Listen to this voice.
3. Stimulate your own musings by knowing how stuff works. Take the printer apart (figuratively).
Sketch out your sales process and identify all the people, materials, process, and bottle necks. Then go to work on eliminating the bottle necks.
Do this with any “process” in the company. You have to see the problem, take it out for coffee, sketch the possible changes, and only then can you really eliminate the problem, the bottleneck.
[Pro tip as it relates to process improvement — keep score at each point you can. Figure out your success rate in every critical conversion and graph the crap out of that stuff. It is not T Ball. Keep score.
What we measure, we manage.]
4. Talk to your own people. Not in stilted conversations with faux agendae.
Conduct an anonymous company survey, have a town hall style company meeting with the survey results in hand, have an off site meeting with your top dogs, and review and revise Mission/Vision/Strategy/Tactics/Values/Culture while revamping your business engine canvas, your business process graphic, and your dollar weighted past, present, future organization charts.
This is hard work. Sorry. Getting the voices in your head to sing in harmony is hard work. It is hard work to create a choir.
The voices in your head will come up with some good stuff if you know which ones to listen to and which ones to ignore. Go do it.