Lovely sunny day in the ATX. Ahh, on Earth as it is in Texas!
As a young, first time CEO, you may hear a lot about work-life balance. It is a worthy subject and suggests that there is some balance beam wherein work sits calmly on the left and life sits serenely on the right and it is your job to find the delicate balance between these two extremes, or, worse still, to create that balance. Good luck with that.
To which notion your Big Red Car says: Poppycock!
First, go look at my qualifier — “. . . young, first time CEO.” I am talking to you and not the serial 5X entrepreneur, who not only can achieve such balance in his/her life, but can teach the subject.
I am speaking to you if you are that young, first time CEO — slightly confused by the novelty of it all, a bit perplexed by the complexity, willing to work your way out of a jam, and with a fire in your belly that can weld titanium.
For you, go all in. Take the leap. Burn the boats. Get the tattoo. Feed the monster. Just do it.
The intensity that a young person — let’s say 22-35 — brings to an entrepreneurial, startup endeavor is similar to what I experienced in the Army upon graduation from Virginia Military Institute last century.
The last vestiges of the Vietnam War were still about (the US Embassy in Saigon would be stormed and taken in early May 1975). It was a time in which the Army was working 24/7/365 and nobody was feeling sorry for themselves or complaining. It was what was done.
Similarly, I want to urge you as a young, first time CEO to operate on a equivalent war time footing.
There are a few caveats:
1. Exercise regularly to counter the stress.
2. Eat right. Eat well. Drive your energy from your food.
3. Get a physical and adhere to the doctor’s admonitions. Tell him you are an entrepreneur and that you are working some incredible hours. [Maybe he will want to invest some of his healthcare bonanza in your fledgling startup. JK]
4. Have a written plan. Please have a written Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, and be receptive to developing a Culture.
A written plan ensures that you strike a square blow on the nail that is your business. An angled blow, a disorganized blow — bends the nail, requires remedial work, and results in a weakened nail when next you get ready to strike it. For all that is good and holy, have a written plan.
5. Take regular cleansing vacations — not to Bali — wherein you disconnect from everything digital. Do it for at last 2 days, twice a year.
6. Celebrate your birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and those of your parents. If you have a beloved, then get them in the mix.
7. Go to church and learn to pray. This will turn out to be very soothing and calming. It is a skill, like learning to code.
8. Get a CEO coach, a mentor, a gray haired eminence. This is a relief valve, and it is always helpful to have someone tell you, “Sorry, that’s normal” when the butterflies turn to condors and try to claw their way out of your acid pool of a stomach on THOSE days. Sorry. It is normal.
9. Spend ten minutes a day writing in a diary. This will document something very important — the journey. You will look back after a year and say, “Holy smokes was I that freakin’ naive. Did I really get that much stuff done?”
If you will only do those nine things, then you can work like a whirling dervish and say, “Work balance, be damned!”
You can’t do it forever, but you can while you’re young and a first time CEO. While you’re learning your craft.
Then, guess what? You learn your craft, you become an experienced CEO and the world is all milk and honey. Unfortunately, you turn out to be lactose intolerant and it never really gets “easy” but you learn to do it.
Be well, amigo.
But, hey, what the Hell do I really known anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Have a great week.