CEO Shoptalk — What Do You Tolerate?

In the CEOing business, we spend a lot of time discussing culture, as we should.

Culture is spawned by the founder’s values which many times are a work in progress, particularly for first time CEO/founders. Perfectly natural.

In mature startups — still growing, but growing at scale meaning they are out of the cradle and “walking” swiftly in the crawl, walk, run continuum — this becomes incredibly important as the CEO cannot have a finger in every pie and the best CEOs are excellent delegators which mandates giving up a modicum of control.

It is at this instant in time that the company, its workforce, begins to own the culture and grow it though they never abandon the founder’s values. Continue reading


CEO Shoptalk — End-Of-Year Reflection And Musing

A client of mine a few years ago said, “You always make me think, and I prepare for our meetings.”

That is a good thing and it makes me feel good. Nothing wrong with thinking, but it should be more than that.

At the end of every year, a CEO/founder/entrepreneur should conduct a bit of reflection and musing to consider how they are performing as compared to how they want to perform.

I am not talking solely about objectives accomplished, but the nature with which a CEO undertook her/his duties.

How should a CEO conduct her/his duties, Big Red Car?

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CEO Shoptalk – The Mantle Of Power

The best job I’ve ever had was as the company commander of a combat engineer company in the Army. It is like being a Chinese feudal war lord which is reputed to be a very good gig.

Company D as in Delta was in need of a firm hand having failed to pass its annual ARTEP (Army Training and Evaluation Program) for multiple years. The battalion was headquartered about five hundred miles away and I never met my battalion commander. Not sure I knew his name.

I was quite alone. Continue reading


The Common Touch And Other Real World Issues

Eight years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled: “Tone And The Common Touch (5-8-2013)” wherein I laid out case for ensuring that your — assuming you to be a CEO or C-suite denizen — tone and the way you dealt with your subordinates was a critical element in how they perceived you and, thus, how they followed your lead.

Tone And The Common Touch

Therein, I said: “Keep the common touch.  The grounded view of the world from which you launched your enterprise.  The humble, lean, agile, nimble startup and success story that you always intended to create.” Continue reading


CEO Shoptalk — CEO Self Help, Self Appraisal

I am a huge fan of routine, standard operating procedures, process development/management, and ritual.

I am also a big fan of regular, rigorous Performance Appraisal and, in particular, Boards of Directors appraising the performance of their CEOs, and CEOs demanding an in-depth appraisal by the Board (subset of the Board is fine, try to get someone who has CEO experience on the committee).

Lazy, cowardly Boards of Directors ignore this critical professional development duty. Shame on you.

Pro tip: The methodology, timing, process of CEO Performance Appraisal belongs in any  competent Employment Agreement and professional boards/CEOs have Employment Agreements.

I am not a fan of trendy things like 360 Degree Performance Appraisals — I like bare knuckled, in your face, straightforward performance appraisal.

One of the things I practiced in 33 years of CEO-ing public and private companies, and I preach to CEOs is self appraisal. Nobody judges us as tough as we do ourselves. Think about that for a second.

CEO readying herself for performance self-appraisal.

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CEO Shoptalk – Executive Decision-making

One of the things that strikes new CEOs is how bloody many decisions there are to make to run a startup and a fledgling business to say nothing of one that survives the trip from the cradle to the marketplace.

I have read that a CEO makes more decisions in a day than CEOs did in prior times in a month — prior times being defined as pre-personal computer and Internet.

I was in business before the PC and the Internet and I totally agree with that assessment. No big surprise there, right?

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