09/24/20

Accounting — That Bedeviling Black Art

I took a few accounting courses in grad school. I once knew my debits versus my credits. Knew all about original issue discounts, goodwill impairment, and other such trivia.

Knew GAAP and FASB. Just showing off now.

I ran businesses for 33 years. I needed to know more about accounting so I hired good accountants, retained good accounting firms, hired a good Chief Financial Officer, got second opinions, and I studied the subject on the mean streets of the business world.

CEOs and founders need to know some accounting — financial accounting, managerial accounting, tax accounting. What I knew saved me a lot of money.

One of my interests is the progression of ratios in a graphical manner — pick a financial ratio and graph it such that you can see the trend at the bat of an eye. That tells me something.

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08/27/20

CEO Shoptalk — Taking Charge

I am sure I have written about this before, but I had chats with a number of CEO type persons over the last month such that I feel I must say it again.

In life, you do not get power, you take power. It is not a difficult concept. CEOs must take charge.

May I tell you a personal story? [I like asking things like that because it makes me seem reasonable, which I assure you I am, but I really don’t care if you give me permission. Here comes the story.]

Once Upon A Time In A Far Away Country

I was anointed by our military to conduct affairs of some considerable importance in a far away land.

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08/21/20

Performance Appraisal As Inspiration And Motivation

Performance appraisal in small to medium companies (including startups) is one of those things that CEOs equate to going to the dentist. Not only do they not like it, they are not good at it.

There are a lot of very odd ideas at play here in the performance appraisal business — 360 degree appraisals which also fold in the guy selling flowers on the street corner — which makes the process a moving target; moving targets are notoriously hard to hit.

The message I bring you today is that a suspiciously simple, well-designed and executed performance appraisal system can be the most powerful personal tool wielded by a keen CEO for inspiration and motivation of individual team members.

It can also be clean, streamlined, and painless.

Let’s take a quick look at where performance appraisal fits within the overall schema of a company’s organizational matrix. Click on the graphic to see it at a larger scale.

Business-planning-building-blocks-graphic

What I want you to see is that performance appraisal is at the foundation level of the company’s Vision, Mission, Strategy Tactics, Objectives, Values, and Culture.

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07/31/20

Managing Primadonnas in the Real World

I struggled for the right title for this blog post. Primadonnas is not quite the right word, but maybe it is.

What I am talking about is how do you manage groups of sales people, software engineers, or research engineers who are working in a difficult to define environment. This may not be your company, but it is many companies.

What I am addressing is a pool of persons who have a similar talent or assignment, who have differing levels of experience which gives way to different outcomes.

You will recognize this if you make and sell a product; or, if you run a SaaS company which continues to develop its core product while developing a new product; or, if you are a equipment company that has an R & D or product development effort.

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07/10/20

Breathing Life Back Into A Company

If you are the CEO of a startup, a small business, or a medium business, you are currently dealing with a unique situation — how do you re-invigorate an enterprise that has been rocked by three distinct issues:

 1. COVID19 on a personal, human scale;

 2. Externally imposed economic and workplace restrictions and impacts based on COVID19; and,

 3. The public backlash from racial issues related to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I will call this last one the Black Lives Matter issue.

These things taken together are likely to have created a negative impact on your company at the individual, granular level and at a business survival level.

There are a few companies who have prospered in the COVID19 environment, but who are still impacted by the BLM impact.

I think that most CEOs would agree that there will be changes, perhaps huge changes, on the other side of these impacts. That is, of course, if y’all survive to emerge on the other side.

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05/10/20

CEO Shoptalk — Fear v Fearful

A leader is always operating on the edge. Talking to you: entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, C-suite denizens, departmental leaders, and students of leadership.

When I was in those positions, I never thought it was lonely at the top, but when people say it is — this is what they are talking about. Being alone with your thoughts, your duties, your responsibilities, your decisions — good ones, bad ones.

Today it is perfectly fine to feel the press of fear. I would be surprised if you didn’t feel fear today. We are facing monumental changes and the fellow traveler of change is fear.

Fear is an emotion. It is an instant in time. It is fleeting. We can banish it. It does not define us.

As a leader, you can feel fear, but you cannot run your organization on it.

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05/7/20

CEO Shoptalk — Scaling Yourself, Delegation

This is a re-titled former blog post that is particularly timely today. The way a CEO scales him/herself is to learn how to effectively delegate.

In these re-opening, re-launching COVID19 days, CEOs will be up to their eyeballs in work, so being able to delegate is an important work balancing tactic. Here is exactly how you do it.

Delegation. Today we talk about delegation. Think of delegation as the means by which a CEO scales him/herself.

The ability of a CEO to delegate tasks effectively is a force multiplier and one of the most important skills a CEO can develop. It is a mechanical skill and today the Big Red Car is going to help you learn how to do it. It’s like being able to fly fish. A bit of local knowledge plus a ten-to-two cast and you are eating smoked trout whenever you want. Listen.

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