The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building - Deepstash

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The Great CEO Inside You: Key Takeaways

The Great CEO Inside You: Key Takeaways

  • You need to learn how to manage yourself before you can manage your business.
  • Communicate ideas and proposals in writing during the decision making process.
  • If you do it twice, write it down. Documentation is the key to building scalable processes.
  • Don’t ignore conflict. Be transparent, give/take feedback often, and be an active listener.
  • Be obsessed with learning about your customer. Do so by asking better questions.

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The Initial Team

The Initial Team

  • Find a partner who has complementary skills to yours. 
  • Give up a large percentage of the company. It’s worth it.
  • Do not create a 50/50 partnership. While 50/50 sounds like an ideal, it actually leads to real pain if there is no easy way to break a deadlock.
  • Founding teams should never grow beyond six until there is a true product-market fit(PMF). 
  • PMF is having created a product that customers are finding so much value in that they are willing to both buy it and recommend it later.
  • Metrics that show whether PMF has been achieved include: revenue, renewal rates, NPS (net promoter score).

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Inbox Zero: Work On Your Top Goals

Inbox Zero: Work On Your Top Goals

Inefficient leaders waste a lot of time reaching out about, or responding to, one-off issues in real-time. A much more efficient method is to batch your issues and discuss them all at once. 

Check email only twice a day: morning and afternoon.

Schedule two hours each day to work on your Top Goal only. And do this every single work day. Period.

The earlier in the day you schedule this Top Goal time, the better, so as to avoid other issues (and people) from pressing for your attention.

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On-Time and Present

On-Time and Present

  • Do not waste other people’s time. It is disrespectful and counterproductive.
  • When you anticipate being late, let the other party know as soon as possible.
  • Be present. Be focused on what’s being discussed. Do not check your messages. Phone and computer away.

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Gratitude

Gratitude

  • Focus on the positives.
  • We perform our best when we are having fun and feeling good about ourselves.
  • Say or write down one thing that you’re thankful for each day.
  • Be appreciative. Tell people when they’ve done something good.
  • Set aside 1 hour a week to be intentionally appreciative. Follow up and outreach. 
  • Do not feign humility by downplaying the act with statements like “It was nothing, anyone could have done it.” No. The person is trying to make you feel appreciated. Anything other than “thank you” will rob them of their goal.

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Check Your Energy

Check Your Energy

  • If you can spend 75-80% of your time doing things that energize you – magic will occur.
  • Audit your time and figure out how much of it is spent on activities that energize you and what activities drain you. Outsource or delegate the things that drain you as much as possible.

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The Four Zones

The Four Zones

Zone of incompetence: other people do better than you

Zone of competence: you can do it just fine, but others are just as good as you

Zone of excellence: things you are better at than others. You will want to keep doing these things, but this is dangerous. You need to move away from these things.

Zone of genius: these are the things that you are uniquely good at in the world and that you love to do. This is where you should be driving toward spending most, if not all, of your time. 

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Health

Health

  • Your physical health is paramount.
  •  Take care of your mental health. Build a support group.
  • Get a therapist, even if you don’t think you need one. You will find it invariably useful.

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Decision Making

Decision Making

If you want the most effective and efficient decision-making process, require that anyone who wants to discuss an issue write it up, along with the desired solution, ahead of time.

Two ways to do this:

The hard way: Write an extraordinarily thorough analysis from the get-go.

The easy way: Write a draft, circulate it to the meeting participants before the meeting, and invite comments and questions. 

This method, though time-consuming for the sponsor, yields extraordinarily thoughtful decisions in a very short amount of time.

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Getting Buy-In

Getting Buy-In

  • You get buy-in when people feel they are part of the decision and their input matters
  • When people are given more influence, they feel more invested.

The Three Methods:

  • The manager decides, tells the team, and answers questions.
  • The manager creates a straw man (hypothetical answer designed to inspire discussion), shares it with the team, invites feedback, facilitates group discussion, and then determines the final answer.
  • The manager invites the team to a meeting with no straw man to discuss the dilemma from scratch. The final decision is made by consensus if possible.

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Issues and Proposed Solutions

Issues and Proposed Solutions

  • Don’t discuss issues verbally. It is both inefficient and ineffective.
  • Instead, require that anyone who presents an Issue at a team meeting do so in writing.
  • The write-up should include both a detailed description of the Issue as well as their Proposed Solution. They cannot say “I don’t know.” They must at least present a guess. It must be phrased boldly, in direct terms.
  • All issues should be presented at the weekly Team Meeting.
  • Allow 5 minutes to discuss each Proposed Solution. If consensus is reached in that time – great. If not, don’t spend more time debating.

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Loudest Voice in the Room: Ensure Fairness In Meetings

  • Be aware of who is in the room when you have a group discussion. Know that work titles will influence other people’s answers.
  • To avoid influencing other people’s ideas, have people write down their votes or thoughts before you share your perspective.
  • Let junior people speak and ask questions first.

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Sloppy Agreements

Sloppy Agreements

  • Sloppy agreements are when people don’t show up on time, don’t complete the goals that they declare.
  • The antidote is Impeccable Agreements. They are 1) precisely defined and 2) fully agreed to (which almost always means written) by all relevant people.
  • There must be consequences to breaking agreements.
  • If you can’t meet the agreement, then you have an obligation to let other members of the agreement circle know as soon as possible.

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Transparency

Transparency

  • Don’t hide negative information.
  • Our imaginations are much more powerful than reality.
  • Share all relevant information with your team, both negative and positive. Let them adapt.

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Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

Interpersonal conflict is almost always due to people:

  1. Not fully sharing their thoughts and feelings
  2. Not feeling heard

Prove to people that you have heard them by summarizing what you just said back to you until they say “that’s right!” Once you assure them that you’ve heard them, then, and only then, will they be open to what you have to say in response.

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Issue Identification

Issue Identification

  • Ask each people to pretend that they’re the CEO and answer “What are the most important issues (max 3) for me to solve in the next 90 days?
  • Ask people to write down their thoughts about the company when they source their Joy, Excitement, Sadness, Anger and Fear.

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Values And Culture

Values And Culture

  • You don’t choose your values. You have them.
  • Use your values as a guide to who you hire and when you fire.
  • Print and distribute your values
  • Don’t underestimate the value of FUN as a value.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate. Make an effort to publicly acknowledge achievements
  • Don’t measure hours. Measure output. However, it’s still key that there is a core period of time when everyone shows up to the office so that collaboration can happen.
  • You prevent office politics by never allowing lobbying to be successful.

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Goal Tracking And Responsibility

Goal Tracking And Responsibility

  • Never assign someone an action without them agreeing to it verbally or in writing.
  • Encourage people to use their own individual tools for tracking their specific actions. Keep the group goal tracker high level.

Areas of Responsibility:

  • When more than one person shares a responsibility, it often does not get done well, or at all. 
  • One person is assigned to each function in the company. This is the AOR list. Maintain and update it as responsibilities shift.

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Collaboration: OKRs

Collaboration: OKRs

Every successful large company uses a system of “Objectives and Key Results(OKRs)”.

  • Set vision and goals for the company, each dept, and each individual on a regular basis (usually quarterly).
  • Communicate that vision and those goals to every team member.
  • Tracking and reporting progress towards those goals on a regular timetable – usually weekly.
  • Elicit feedback on what’s going right and what needs to be changed.

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Tracking Of OKRs

Tracking Of OKRs

Target is 3 objectives with 3 key results for each.

The Objective: Where do we want to go? Not necessarily measurable

Key Results: How do we know that we’re getting there? These should be measurable.

  • Gather your leadership team and have everyone come to the meeting with their ideas for what the OKRs should be for the quarter.
  • Much better to let individuals come up with their own OKRs. They will be more invested. 

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Recruiting

Recruiting

  • Be efficient, or risk grinding all other processes to a halt.
  • Spend as little time as possible with the candidates that you don’t hire (quick evaluation) and as much time as possible with the candidates that you want to and do hire (building a relationship, onboarding/training).
  • Be fast. In recruiting, you would make an offer to the candidate “pending reference interviews”.

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Sales: Building Trust With The Customer

Sales: Building Trust With The Customer

  • Ask the customer about them.
  • Listen actively and reflect back on what they say.
  • At the second meeting, show that you remember what they said at the first.
  • Be explicit about NOT talking about your company.
  • “Before we talk about what we do, I’d like to start by getting to know your situation, to know if we’re even the right solution for you.”.
  • Ask for a limited amount of time, so the burden is low:
  • “Let’s have a short introductory call for 10 minutes.”

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Sales: Customer Development

Sales: Customer Development

  • Identify the customer’s specific challenges by asking the right questions.
  • You need to understand your customer’s pain before you present your solution.
  • Over time, you will want to build an inventory of problem and solution statements for the different kinds of customers and different product features your product serves.

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Sales: Hiring The Sales People

Sales: Hiring The Sales People

  • Don’t hire sales people right away.
  • In most cases, salespeople will never be able to sell better than the founders and they won’t be able to sell the product if you are not able to.
  • To thrive, salespeople need to have a very clear product offering to sell and a very clear direction on who to sell to.

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Lead Generation: The Three Kinds Of Leads

Seeds : Seeds are generated from word-of-mouth, usually from customer referrals or prior relationships.

Nets : Nets are generated from your marketing, such as events, SEO, white papers, and ad campaigns. They are called Nets because you are going for “quantity over quality”.

Spears : Spears are generated from direct outbound outreach by your Outbound Reps, usually through email outreach or LinkedIn mining. They are called Spears because they are hyper-targeted and you are going for “quality over quantity”.

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Marketing

Marketing

  • The greatest risk is not moving too slow. It’s spreading scarce resources too thin.
  • Start by concentrating all of your efforts on the low hanging fruit – the small customer segment that has a particular problem that your product solves 10x better than the competition.
  • Only move on to the next customer segment after you have the resources to do so.

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Great CEOs Use These Handy Tips

Great CEOs Use These Handy Tips

  • You need to document everything.
  • Be more interested in learning than in being right.
  • You are not making a product. You are solving a customer problem. It is critical that you continually live that customer problem.
  • Assign each new team member a buddy with whom they’ll check in each day for fifteen minutes for the first two weeks.

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IDEAS CURATED BY

matclar

Diplomatic Services operational officer

CURATOR'S NOTE

What to do when you are CEO.

Matthew Clark's ideas are part of this journey:

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How to communicate effectively

How to motivate and inspire others

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