CEOs — Big Red Rules — 2017 II Edition

Big Red Car here with a new roof over my head. For “61 squares” — meaning 61 X 100SF/square — cost $18,650. That’s about $3.05/SF. Nicely done, Prosperity Roofing.

OK, so today I share some rules with y’all. We’re talking CEO Rules.


CEOs and C Suite Invertebrates

“It’s lonely at the top.” Huh? What baloney. It’s not lonely at the top; you have all those stock options, the big paycheck, and everybody laughs at your lame jokes. Stop this nonsense and enjoy it. Still troubled? Join YPO (Young President’s Organization), get a chocolate Labrador, and give your spouse a credit card with no credit limit.

A CEO controls the fate of her people. You impact a lot of lives. Remind yourself of this every day.

If you want to be taken seriously as a woman CEO, do not pose for a fashion magazine until you quadruple your enterprise value.

Megyn Kelly bimbo pic

You are a leader and a manager. As a leader, it’s your job to have a vision and to communicate it — constantly. As a manager, it’s your job to allocate resources. Know the difference. Embrace both roles.

CEOs may be hired by the Board of Directors, but they do not convey power. Power is not “given.” It is taken. Take power.

Come to work every day prepared to bite the ass off a bear. Bears lurk in reception areas, so be ready.

Grizzly bear II

Do not be lazy — write down the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture, business engine canvas, business process graphic, elevator/taxi/boardroom pitches, company slide presentation, dollar weighted organization charts, contingency plan, onboarding plan — whew! Do this. Be a professional. Update them twice per year.

[Hey, I want you to know there are CEOs who do this. The Boss works with a few who did it BEFORE they launched the company. Winners plan.]

Leaders take groups of people to places they might never otherwise go. That’s your job. Move the organization to a new place, a good place. Movement and change are constants.


The CEO’s values drive the culture. Do not just communicate your values, live them. When you lead, lead by example. Never ask anyone to do something you would not personally do.

When you come upon a dirty bathroom, take off your jacket. Stick your tie in your shirt. Roll up your sleeves. Get down on your hands and knees and clean it with cleanser and a toothbrush. Clean the toilet. Shine the plumbing fixtures. Polish the mirror. Take a picture of it. Let folks take a picture of you. You will NEVER have another dirty bathroom in your company again. Live your values. Lead by example. Do stuff. Be a little nuts.

Your employees don’t give a damn how hard it is to get your kids into private school or how bad the service is at the BMW dealership. Relate on a human scale.

If you spend your time on social media — checking your Facegram, Instabook, Snapcrap — guess what? Your employees will, also.

Eat last. Serve others. Cook the burgers at the company picnic with the lowest ranking person in the company and let them flip the burgers. Get a picture of this.

Reward, praise in person and in writing. Chew ass verbally. The praise becomes a trophy and will be seen by a lot of people. Nobody will remember the ass chewing (Unless you got your ass chewed by Colonel (later Major General) Leroy N Suddath, Jr when your combat engineers wiped up Wrightstown, NJ with the Military Police. You were the one who insisted on three hours a week of hand-to-hand combat training, Ace. Apparently, the troopers were paying attention.)

CEOs need to be lucky. When you come to work early, stay late, work through lunch a couple of times per week, and read the literature of your profession an hour a day — LUCK FINDS YOU! You will drown in luck.

Nobody ever accused a CEO of being too quiet. Listen. Get everyone’s opinion and then speak. I promise the problem will still be there by the time you get to speak. If not, then good for you.

Send a handwritten note to everyone who ever comes to see you or you go to see them. Have them made at and use a distinctive picture that relates to you. Do this. Stop putting it off.

Be an optimist. There has never been a headstone which said, “He was a great pessimist.” Make it fun to follow you.

Your people can smell a phony from a mile away. Be genuine and speak with authenticity.

Do not take your shirt off and ride around on a horse. Pro tip. You look stupid and people will think you’re a lunatic.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ri

Take different, random groups within your company out to lunch. When you take the accountants out, the Controller, the Chief Finance Officer will have a fit. Enjoy it. No agenda, just talk. Make everybody tell you their spouse’s name, the names of their children — write them down, give them to your assistant, send everyone a birthday card. Be a mensch.

Learn to manage by wandering around. If you don’t know what that means, find out.

Be a disciplinarian. Not a prick, a disciplinarian. Call balls and strikes. Do not back down.

Conduct Performance Appraisals on time, be thorough, modify compensation at the same time. Nobody gives a damn about anything but the compensation. But they listen harder when they know comp is on the table. [Biggest problem CEOs have is talking a great game on Performance Appraisal and forgetting to do it. Come on, don’t be THAT guy.]

Go see a client without anything on your mind. When you go see a client without a problem lighting your hair on fire, you get to know them. They get to know you. You build goodwill so when the problem shows up, you can smother it with goodwill.

Make people take vacation. Force them to take it. Two things happen — you find out if that person is critical to the operation. The person and her family come back to work refreshed and ready. [Charles De Gaulle said, “The cemeteries of the world are filled with indispensable men.” Do you even know who Charles De Gaulle is?]

Close the company down between Christmas and New Years, if you can. Give everyone off. They won’t do any work any way, so what are you losing?

If you don’t work Fridays for your entire business career, you will accomplish the same amount of work. You just cram more into a shorter time period. Think what you might accomplish with fifty-two Fridays a year to learn something? Start slow. Learn to code, fly an airplane, swim the butterfly, get a CHL (concealed handgun license), dance, or paint. Paint your garage. Take your spouse to a spa.

In ten years nobody is going to remember what the strategic plan was, but they will remember that surprise birthday party you threw for them or the graduation gift you gave their daughter. [Hell, you’re going to put it on the company Amex, right? Dude, this is low hanging fruit. Your assistant does the work.]

Hire fast, fire faster. Never, ever, ever think anyone who screws up in their first month is going to round into shape. They are on their best behavior. It does not get better. Fire fast and tell the company why. Not the details which make lawyers rich, just the stuff people need to know. “He was not the right fit for you.” Prediction: A lot of folks will hunt you down and say, “Nice move, Boss. Well played.” This will make you feel good.

When you can, over pay everybody. When you can’t, tell them you want to and will when y’all’s ship comes in. Lure that ship to shore.

Do not be the smartest guy in the room, even when you are. The smartest guy is the guy nobody knows is the smartest guy.

Have a lot of whiteboards everywhere.

Learn how to brainstorm with your team. This is a skill and it gets their fingerprints on the murder weapon.

Hold monthly company meetings and force the people to ask questions. Prepare questions you think they should ask. Do not adjourn the meeting until they ask five hard questions. They will leave the company for the answers to the questions they never ask.

Have an onboarding ceremony in which you meet the new employee at the door wearing your church clothes. Have a cup of coffee with them and tell them, “We’re a good company. You’re going to make us a great company.” Get them all their stuff the FIRST day. Have their work station ready. The way they onboard will determine the nature of your relationship. Buy everybody a damn stapler.

Never, ever, ever take advice on CEOing from people who have never been CEOs. There is more bad advice out there than there are cockroaches.

OK, y’all, that’s it.


Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. No burgers today?

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Have a great weekend.



3 thoughts on “CEOs — Big Red Rules — 2017 II Edition

  1. Well this is Damn Near Perfect. May I have the audacity to add a few from my set of rules? (Power is taken, not given, so here’s a few more:)
    1. Never confuse selling with implementation.
    2. Feed the troops. An Army runs on its stomach.
    3. Equal pain for all. unpleasant task = everybody helps.
    4. Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.
    5. Time is my most valuable commodity. With respect, get to the (insert favorite adjective here) point.

  2. Nice. A keeper. I hope to use those ideas.

    The woman in the picture seems to be working really hard to be selling something. Se seems to be too old to be attractive as a bride and first time mother. Below the neck, she seems to have a good female figure. But her face is a bit long and strong, really, too much to have her be very pretty or, really, even very feminine. With that facial expression, posture, and clothes, she doesn’t look like one to bring home to the family, give a ring, and plan a good family with children and grand children.

    Looks to me like she has some serious problems between her ears; she looks like she has a stack of business cards from some of the most aggressive divorce lawyers. Get involved with her, should be well lawyered up.

    Marriage? Would need one heck of a pre-nup, and then would still likely be fighting all the time — not good, really, big mistake.

    She looks like a house, car, whatever, that’s been on the market way too long and, thus, likely has some serious faults, a car with a bad main bearing, a house that gets two feet of water in the basement several times a year.

    Net, if she were good wife material, she should long since have been off the market, in a good marriage and home, with several kids by now.

    The picture of the soldiers looks like it is from the TV series of the Stephen E. Ambrose Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. when, near the end, they were accepting the surrender of some Germans and in particular a German officer who gave a parting speech to his men that made him looks astoundingly competent and professional. I’d check this guess, but all my YouTube URLs of the TV series are dead!

    When I was in organizations — business, academics, government — I saw a lot that was really bad, and nearly all of it could be summarized as just dysfunctional and as bad as a sick and dirty pig. Then, sorry, those nice ideas would have been like lipstick on that pig.

    Maybe if the organization had used those ideas from the beginning it wouldn’t have been a sick and dirty pig and, actually, deserving of the lipstick. Maybe. Hopefully.

    Some of what I saw:

    (1) Theft by the janitors each night going through any unlocked office desks to find and steal change kept for the vending machines and up to the high managers selling off supplies and inventory, e.g., copper tubing, for cash. Anyone who tried to report any case of theft was banished.

    I can guess that some local plumbing supply house had a really nice source of supply!

    Maybe the head guy of the division with the inventory had a neighbor in the plumbing supply business, met at a neighborhood BBQ, heard the plumbing guy complain about the high wholesale cost of copper tubing, and have the manager say that they had a lot of “surplus copper tubing they wanted to sell off cheap” or some such.

    (2) Got to be in the clique — ethnic, religious, racial, gender, sexual orientation, whatever — or will be there just to be quiet, lay low, see nothing, say nothing, do very little, and fill in the bottom of the rankings as just another “poor performer”. To help enforce this, there were strict rules on communications paths: Could communicate with others outside own hierarchy sub-tree only through own supervisor. Any nail that stuck up got beaten down flat.

    (3) Are hired to be fired so that the hiring manager can claim that need to hire still better people and pay them more money so that the hiring manager, to make, say, 15% more than their best paid subordinate, can get paid more money.

    (4) Better ideas are a threat: The organization was run like, say, an early Ford manufacturing plant where the supervisor knew more and the subordinates were there just to add muscle to the work of the supervisor. Anyone with a better idea that could be important for the company scared the pants off everyone in the management chain up to and including the CEO and maybe even the BoD since such ideas and the person could be seen as a threat, a threat to the whole management chain if they stayed in the company and a threat to the company from outside the company.

    (5) Inwardly directed: Fight others in the company, especially on the same floor or hall, and ignore everything outside the company. Reinforce this with a lot of arrogance.

    (6) Process oriented: Use various cases of formal, maybe intricate and/or inscrutable, processes as a means to protect management. Reinforce this with a lot of arrogance.

    (7) Vendor kickbacks: Have some high manager buy overpriced equipment, supplies, and services to get personal kickbacks from the vendors.

    A lot of such dysfunctional rot in the literature of organizational behavior, public administration, etc. is called goal subordination. It’s very well known stuff.

    Now that I understand such ways, maybe among the millions of ways to go wrong, at this point I still don’t know good ways to stop such dysfunctional stuff. Maybe the best way is good leadership as from BRC here and as from a winning B-ball team where each player has to pass the ball to the player with the best shot, that is, play for the team instead of just for their own performance numbers. Maybe a well trained military unit is similar. Maybe.

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