Tag Archives: founder

What being a Father taught me about being a Founder

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.31.26 AMWhen we launched our company from the loft of my home, it seemed like nirvana. I didn’t have to commute. I didn’t have a boss. I didn’t have hours of meetings to attend. I could focus like a laser beam on serving our clients and nurturing the growth of our company.

The real driver of the decision to start a business in our home was our son. He was 11 months old. Our hearts couldn’t handle the thought of him being in day care all day while we both worked. It would mean lots of sacrifices to become an entrepreneur, but it was important to us for our son’s sake.

So with great enthusiasm and excitement I proclaimed, “I’ll take care of Joshua while I build the business from home.” “Oooookkkkkkkaaayyyyy,” said my wife with some level of skepticism in her voice.

It all started out great. I was super organized. The scheduled feedings. Work email. The scheduled naps. Work phone call. The scheduled play times. Write a work proposal. The scheduled walks to the park. Work coaching session with a new client. The scheduled snacks.

I can do this, I triumphantly said to myself.

It didn’t take long for the wheels to start falling off.

The phone rang and it was one of my clients. I coach CEOs and he was very upset about a situation with his co-founder. While I was closely listening with one ear glued to the phone, in my other ear I heard a noise in my son’s room. He was sleeping so I just figured he was moving around in his crib.

My client’s emotions were rising to a feverish pitch. My brain was super focused on his situation. That’s when I saw a hand emerge from my son’s room. It took a moment to process this thought.

Is someone in my son’s room? No, the hand is too small. Yikes, it was my son’s hand. He wobbled around the corner…covered in feces…with a big broad smile.

I was stunned. He was out of his bed. That never happened before.

Wait. Why is he covered in feces? Oh no, he’s touching the walls with feces covered hands. He’s tracking leaky diaper doo-doo onto the carpet. Uggh! What will my wife think?!

Focus, I told myself.

He inched closer to my desk, smiling and giggling at his big escape from his crib. I didn’t know what to do. Now next to me, he stood rocking back and forth trying to keep his balance having only recently mastered this new feat. Then it happened.

“Poo-Poo, Daddy. Poo-Poo,” he said with pride.

“Did you just call me, Poo-Poo,” my client asked me incredulously.

“Aaah, no. Aaah, not at all,” I stammered with embarrassment.

It had happened. My Dad life and my business life suddenly collided in spectacular fashion.

In fact, this incident, and many others like it, taught me one very important lesson. Be flexible…$@#!* happens.  Being a father has made me a better Founding CEO because I now expect that unexpected things will happen.

  • When a client takes 8 months to pay, I know that happens and I stay flexible.
  • When a client cancels a meeting I traveled 30 minutes for, I use it as an opportunity to take care of some things on my laptop.
  • When a team member gets sick and can’t work, I use it as an opportunity to learn something new.

Kids teach us that life is much more than the worries, concerns, anxieties and issues we face as a Founder & CEO. So, if you find yourself struggling with the chaos and confusion of leading your startup, you may want to remember these few things…

  1. Just like the feces on the carpet, lots of messes can be cleaned up.
  2. Just like my client on the phone, people are forgiving.
  3. Just like my son’s climbing achievement led to feces on the wall…if you focus on the achievement and learning, your team will reward you with loyalty.
  4. Just like my attempts at structure and scheduling were helpful, startup plans often need to shift to meet current realities.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Founding CEO fathers out there in startup land. Enjoy the ride. Your time with your children and your startup go by fast.

 

book-image

Want more productivity?

Try some of these 63 productivity hacks from 50 Top Founding CEOs.
Download the PDF today!

You’ll also receive our ezine full of podcast updates and tips and tricks from Todd.

Do founders make better CEOs?

37-FounderToCEOResearch-Pic#1-02MAY2016For me, the short answer is yes. But, don’t take my word. A growing amount of research supports this.

Here are some of the more relevant pieces.

1 – Founder-CEOs, Investment Decisions, and Stock Market Performance (Rüdiger Fahlenbrach) – published on August 8, 2009

  • “Eleven percent of the largest public U.S. firms are led by founder-CEOs.”
  • “Founder-CEO led firms not only have a higher firm valuation than non-founder-CEO firms, but also a higher stock market performance.

2 – Founding vs. Professional CEO Performance Analysis in the Software as a Service Industry (Yujin Chung, Professor David Wessels, Frank Chen) – published on April 28, 2010

  • “Based on full company tenure analysis, Founding CEO’s outperform Professional CEO’s on capital efficiency, exit time to exit, and exit valuation.”
  • “Based on full company tenure analysis, Founding CEO’s outperform Professional CEO’s on value created and return on investment.”
  • “Founding CEO’s outperform Professional CEO’s taking into account situation bias.”

3 – Founder CEOs and Innovation: Evidence from S&P 500 Firms (Joon Mahn Lee, Jongsoo Kim, Joonhyung Bae ) – published on February 17, 2016

  • “…founder CEOs are more effective and efficient innovators than professional CEOs.”
  • “…the innovations of founder CEO-managed firms create more financial value than the innovations of professional CEO-managed firms.”
  • “…recent studies on founder CEOs find that they enjoy both greater market and accounting performance than professional CEOs in large, established companies.”
  • “…founder CEO managed firms enjoy higher market performance than professional CEO-managed firms.”

4 – Founder-Led Companies Outperform the Rest – Here’s Why (Chris Zook) – published on March 24, 2016

  • “We found that the companies most successful at maintaining profitable growth over the long term were disproportionately companies where the founder was still running the business…”

In my opinion, the reason is fairly simple. If you want to build upon your idea and see it to fruition, there will never be anyone as motivated to do so as you. You bring the fire, energy, zeal, and the reason for your idea to exist. That energy is hard to replace.

You just have to decide to want to be a leader.

You have to decide to be a CEO.

Once you cross that threshold, my money is on you…and your company.

What do you think?

 

 

book-image

Want more productivity?

Try some of these 63 productivity hacks from 50 Top Founding CEOs.
Download the PDF today!

You’ll also receive our ezine full of podcast updates and tips and tricks from Todd.

Experts, Gurus, “Mentors,” and Ninjas

They are everywhere. Experts, Gurus, “Mentors,” and Ninjas, oh my! They yell at you from autoplay Facebook videos. They fill your inbox with promises of riches. They twitter bomb you with endless inspirational quotes. They fill your physical mailbox with post cards selling their “must attend” LIVE events. And, you hire them and consult with them all the time.

Dan Shapiro, CEO and Co-founder of Glowforge and author of Hot Seat: The StartUp CEO Guidebook, even pointed out a new and growing problem in a recent interview I did with him for my podcast. “Mentors tend to give a lot of conflicting advice. At Techstars they have a phrase, ‘mentor whiplash,’ for all the opposite and conflicting advice that entrepreneurs get.” Continue reading

book-image

Want more productivity?

Try some of these 63 productivity hacks from 50 Top Founding CEOs.
Download the PDF today!

You’ll also receive our ezine full of podcast updates and tips and tricks from Todd.

Enhance Your Leadership with Good E-Introduction Etiquette

A few years ago a local consultant contacted me with a professional, yet direct email. It said, “Todd, thanks for sending me XYZ person my way. In the future, can you check with me first? I’m really busy for the next three weeks and I don’t have time for networking.”

At first I was, admittedly, a bit annoyed. I was connecting a Founding CEO client to the consultant as a potential customer for him. In addition, the consultant had previously told me to send him anyone who might need his services. In my anger I silently fumed and resolved never to help him again.

As a Founding CEO, my time is very limited, just like the consultant in my story. It’s somewhat of a cliché now – time remains the fixed asset we all share. I’ve had the good fortune to interview over 50 Founding CEOs of fast growing businesses on my podcast, “From Founder To CEO.” Lack of time is a common theme amongst them. Those CEOs who thrive learn how to delegate, prioritize, and hire a great team. They are also adept at networking. Between fundraising, cultivating partnerships, and seeking more business, they are skilled in the art and science of e-introduction etiquette. Continue reading

book-image

Want more productivity?

Try some of these 63 productivity hacks from 50 Top Founding CEOs.
Download the PDF today!

You’ll also receive our ezine full of podcast updates and tips and tricks from Todd.