CEO — Learning To Walk

Big Red Car here in the ATX during SXSW, Texas bluebonnets, azaleas blooming, March Madness, and a bit of spring skiing? Is this a great country — Texas, I mean — or what?


Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush co-existing in the Hill Country west of Fredericksburg. Peak bluebonnet is a few days away.

OK, so The Boss is talking to a youngish CEO.

“I may not be cut out to be a CEO,” says the youngish CEO. “Maybe, I’m just not CEO material.”

This CEO is actually quite brilliant but the CEO-ing gig is kicking his ass right now.

The Boss listens. A lot of dealing with momentarily troubled CEOs is letting the poison out and that requires a lot of listening. Sometimes, they need to be talked in off the ledge.

“Is there anything you can point to that feels like a victory?” asks The Boss.

“Yeah, but right now, it’s one step forward and two steps backward.”

The Boss gathers himself and studies the CEO. The CEO is contemplating quitting as CEO and The Boss doesn’t want to push him in the wrong direction, so he’s careful.

“OK, do you remember learning to walk?”

“No, of course not,” says the CEO. “I was a baby.”

“Go with me on this. It’s an analogy. Play along.”

The CEO, who hasn’t used his laugh in a while, chuckles.

“OK, lay it on me.”

“When you were about a year old, you were likely a crawler. Your parents would watch you crawl and say, ‘He’ll be walking soon.’ Remember that?”

“Yeah, sure,” says the CEO, who agreed to play along.

“Then, you tried to walk. What happened?”

“I fell down a lot.”

“Did you ever say to yourself, ‘Maybe this walking stuff is not for me?’ Did you?”


“Did you EVER say to yourself, ‘Maybe this walking shit is not for me? DID YOU?'”

“I already said, ‘No.’ Cool it, man.”

“What did you do?” asks The Boss.

“I kept trying until I got the hang of it. I persisted. I prevailed. I overcame. I walked.”

“So, there, dear CEO, you have it. You learned to walk by trying to walk. What am I going to say next?”

“You, Boss, are going to tell me to keep trying and that, just like learning to walk, I am going to get the hang of it and become a real CEO.”

And, The Boss and the seraphim, the Archangels, the cherubim said, “Amen.”

There you have it, dear readers. Nobody is born knowing how to walk or be a CEO. You learn how to do it. You persist. You persevere. You keep falling and getting up and one day you say, ‘Hell, I’ve got this!'”

So the CEO turns to The Boss and asks, “How do you know this stuff?”

“Cause I was a CEO for thirty-three years and that’s how I learned. The secret? There is no secret. Sorry.”

The CEO went on to be a great CEO and built a great company and they never spoke of this matter again. Later, The Boss would explain” Crawl, Walk, Run” — but that’s a subject for another day.

Hey, you — YOU CAN DO IT. It’s like learning to walk and you mastered that, no? If you have a problem, call me. I’ll help you.


The azaleas repaying their obligations for all the cotton seed hulls they enjoyed during the winter. Ahh, on Earth as it is in Austin By God Texas!

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car and it’s March Madness and the bluebonnets are wilding in the Hill Country, the azaleas are aflame, and the nerds have taken over downtown cause it’s SXSW. Be good to yourself. Believe in yourself.cropped-LTFD-illust_300.png


2 thoughts on “CEO — Learning To Walk

  1. Azaleas and cotton seed hulls — there where lots of such, and houses with yards as in the picture, in Memphis where I grew up. I like Upstate NYS better, e.g., the present snow is pretty and the animal tracks are nice, guessing what animals made them, but azaleas and cotton seed hulls can be nice, too.

    For walking and a CEO, nearly everyone does learn to walk, early on, but only people in a tiny fraction of the population are successful as a CEO. So, maybe learning to be a CEO is too difficult? Maybe not!

    First, only a tiny fraction of people have a good opportunity to be a good CEO. Second, if one works as an employee for a while, likely they will discover that not all CEOs are good. It can be easy to think

    I could do better than that. You could train monkeys to do better than that.

    E.g., once there was a startup fly by night small package airline, and they estimated that they could fly the planes half full and have a license to print money. Well, soon they flew the planes packed solid, doubled the rates, and still lost money. So, their first estimate was high by a factor of 4+. Not so good business planning arithmetic.

    I don’t know if one could train monkeys to do better than that, but I have to expect that people in a large fraction of the reasonably diligent, competent, and capable population can learn — e.g., crawl, walk, run — to be a good+ CEO. In fact, I’m counting on it!

    Watch the movie The Big Sky with Kirk Douglas and more: It’s about 1810 in St. Louis, and there is an improbable collection of dreamers who want to take a keel boat up the Missouri to the Grand Tetons and trade furs with the Blackfeet Indians. So, they were going on an adventure with no guarantees, no laws, sure to encounter lots of unexpected problems, and did, but, after setbacks, hard work, some smarts, they made it.

    Good allegory? Maybe.

    Was the story exactly true? Maybe not, but from 1710, 1810, 1910, and maybe 2010, a lot of people, as CEO or whatever, did charge off into the unknown with unknown dangers and no guarantees. Some of them did well. Heck, that’s the real world where about the best can hope for is just the opportunity. If you can find a better planet, then move to it.

    When you talk it over with your girlfriend and wife to be or wife, with lots of thought, care, concern, sincerity, and passion, maybe your conversation sounds a little like some Dvorak, Rostropovich, and von Karajan as in

    The whole adventure, the desire, the optimistic start, meeting the wife, winning the wife, encountering the enemies, getting magnificent victory over the enemies, and the resulting peace, maybe with some azaleas, can be as in

    When are back successfully from the adventure, then take the wife and all the dear daughters, all nicely dressed up, say, in a limo, to something like the Mariinsky Theatre performance as at

    The sons, take them to some of the games of March Madness or watch it all on a good TV!

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