CEO Shoptalk: Self-Appraisal

There is a chance that if you are the CEO of a small business, a privately held business — so, not a startup — or a startup that is initially self-funded and, thus, has no investors looking over your shoulder, you do not have a working Board of Directors and, thus, do not have a meaningful CEO performance appraisal system in place.

Let’s pretend that Boards of Directors always have a working CEO performance appraisal plan in place. Isn’t that charming? Continue reading


CEO Shoptalk: The Transition Point

A few years ago, I was speaking to a totally inexperienced potential founder (brilliant young man, recent prestigious university grad, and a very likeable person) and I asked him as I always do, “Tell me how the process of standing up a startup works out in your mind?”

It is always a good idea to know what the entrepreneur, even an inexperienced one, thinks they’re getting in to.

He said, “It all starts with PRODUCT and I am all about product. Product is my secret sauce.” I am paraphrasing, but I am sure I have it close. Continue reading


CEO Shoptalk: Fear Of Failure

Chatting the other day with a serial entrepreneur of some seasoning and success and we get on the subject of “fear of failure.” He had some interesting things to say amongst which are: “Everybody has some degree of fear of failure. Perfectly normal. It becomes a problem when it prevents you from going forward.”

WTF is “fear of failure,” Big Red Car?

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CEO Shoptalk: Doing The Bloody Work

Other day a CEO who had been a client pre-Pandemic calls me and wants to chat about the difficulties of getting folks back to the office who had been weaned from the office whilst working from home during the Pandemic and post-Pandemic, hardly a novel topic.

As I often do, I explored the basis for what was happening and I asked him about hiring, objective setting, performance appraisal, and compensation. We also discussed “quiet quitting” and its management equivalent: “quiet firing.” Continue reading


CEO Shoptalk: HIRING >>> Hard Skills, Soft Skills, Experience, Common Sense, Character

Not long ago I was discussing the hiring practices of a mature company I had first met as a startup when I advised its CEO. Early in their existence they had used a decent headhunter, but when they brought it in house, they stubbed their toes over process.

The company has since successfully exited and the story is archived, but there is a discussion around hiring that may be useful.

In our discussion, the CEO was decrying post-Pandemic hiring practices and the pressure to allow folks to work from home or flexible hours. There was a lot of confusion as there was no experience upon which to draw. Continue reading


CEO Shoptalk: Motivation v Inspiration

One of the current topics in the scrum discussion about leadership in the job environment at the C-suite level is the issue of motivation v inspiration. It is a nuanced discussion and it is tied into our current cultural metamorphosis in the workplace including such things as Work From Home v office work.

What exactly is the difference between motivation and inspiration, Big Red Car?

Continue reading


CEO Shoptalk: Deferred Compensation


With that caveat, I want to urge you to investigate how deferred compensation might be a useful tool around the C Suite as part of a well-designed compensation program offering: compensation, benefits, short term incentive compensation, long term incentive compensation, and “something special.”

Deferred compensation fits into the “something special” category.

Let’s start with the basic understanding that you are a startup founder/CEO — in part, at least — for the money. Deferred compensation is a way to manage your compensation to your personal advantage within the rules as they are written.

There are two types of deferred compensation:

 1. Qualified deferred compensation programs such as the 401(k); and,

 2. Non-qualified deferred compensation programs which are one-off, bespoke arrangements negotiated between the founder/CEO/C Suite denizen and the company. Continue reading