“I Am a First Time CEO”

Big Red Car here enjoying the lovely, sunny, warm ATX yet once again.

So, I’m talking to four different founder/CEOs and one of the says, “I’m a first time CEO.”

To which the Big Red Car responds, “And so?”

“So, I really don’t know what I am doing,” sayeth the first time CEO.

To which replies the Big Red Car, “So what?”

The First Time CEO

A founder has to decide who is going to run the startup she is breathing life into. The answer is usually, “You are, founder darling. You are going to be the CEO.”

“But, I’ve never done this before and it makes me nervous, anxious, it taxes my deodorant and we just can’t have that.”

Calm down!

Let’s catalog a few things:

Were you born knowing how to ride a bike? No.

Were you born knowing how to drive a car? No.

Were you born knowing how to tie the Monkey’s Paw knot? No.

The Monkey’s Paw (fist) is used to put weight on the end of a line you’re going to throw to someone. Amongst knot tiers, it is the Holy Grail.

On that Monkey’s Paw, look it up. The Boss knows how to tie the Monkey’s Paw. And that isn’t easy.

So what are we going to actually do — us first time CEOs?

What you are going to do is this, dear first time CEOs:

1. You are going to take all that fear, anxiety, trepidation and turn it into rocket fuel to drive you to being successful.

2. You are going to become a student of CEOing which means you are going to read:

The Checklist Manifesto;
The Northbound Train;
Competing on Analytics;
The Power of Alignment; and,
Classic Drucker (you can also read Re-Work).

That’s easy, no?

3. You are going to really crack down and pour your heart into creating your Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture, business engine canvas, business process graphic, and dollar weighted org charts.

4. You are going to create an elevator, taxi cab, board room pitch — memorizing, practicing them.

5. You are going to create a simple “pitch” deck that is chapter headings with your memorized pitch being the glue that holds them all together.

6. You are going to concentrate all this work product into a presentation that you are going to use to attract, recruit, hire talent.

7. You are going to come work early, stay late, work hard, and you are going to pray for guidance.

What else, Big Red Car?

You are going to get a mentor, a CEO coach, a gray haired eminence, a trusted CEO friend, a peer support group, and you are going to pray for guidance [Ooops, already said the “praying” thing. Sorry. Hell, too many prayers are not going to hurt, no?]

You are NOT going to take counsel of your fears. When you feel that happening, you are going to spit it out like a cockroach wandered into your mouth when you were sleeping.

You are going to remember that nobody was born knowing how to tie the Monkeys Paw and you are going to jump into the deep end of the ocean and swim like Hell.

You will go to bed tired — that good kind of tired that says, “Wow, we worked our ass off today. And I may just figure this out.”

And when you really get stuck you’re going to call The Boss (512-656-1383, [email protected]) and he’s going to tell you that feeling — that acid eating your guts out — is perfectly normal. And while you haven’t gotten a Christmas card from normal in a long, long time — he’s going to tell you he was a CEO for 33 years and he felt exactly the same when he was a first time CEO.

He’s going to tell you, “Everything you need to know to be a successful CEO is inside you right now. Let me show you where.”

And then one day, you are going to wake up and you are going to say, “I’ve got this shit.”

And, that, dear first time CEO, is when you are going to be just a CEO and that “first time” appellation is going to be sleeping under a headstone somewhere in your memory but you will never forget the journey. And that journey, you crazy entrepreneur, is why you wanted to found a company and be a CEO in the first place.

Because, dear heart, that business about “normal” and not getting a Christmas card or birthday card from normal — wait on it . . . . . YOU aren’t normal. You are an entrepreneur and you get paid in something different. You get to be the freakin’ CEO. Now get out of there and go bite the ass off a big grizzly bear knowing that nobody was ever born knowing how to tie the Monkey’s Paw but now YOU do.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. But, one thing — I know how to tie the freakin’ Monkeys Paw and you can learn too. Call me, I’ll help you — 512-656-1383, [email protected]




3 thoughts on ““I Am a First Time CEO”

  1. BRC, I spent a few years racing catamarans offshore. After a year of learning and preparing, I decided it was time to get my feet wet an enter my first ocean regatta. Fear, trepidation, angst, worry, second-guessing, anti-Rolaids stomach acid, etc., were all present for that first leap into the deep end. Many races later, all that was replaced with a ‘hitman’ attitude. I’m now grateful for those early emotions. They were necessary and important. ‘Gut checking’ comes with being a startup entrepreneur.

    However, BRC, not once did I ever see or hear about the Monkey Paw. It would have come in handy on a couple of occasions.

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