My battalion commander had tasked me with the responsibility of conducting an “officer professional development” training program for all the officers in our combat engineer unit. This was a first for me. My responsibility included coordinating the logistics for the field trip to a famous battlefield, developing all the materials to help my fellow officers learn the lessons of the fight, and become knowledgeable enough to answer the questions they would shoot my way.
I was very nervous. A few months before I had wowed them with a Harvard Graphics (precursor to Microsoft PowerPoint) presentation at the Officer’s Club. The topic was the capabilities of the North Korean Army. The officers were stunned by the new technology I was using. I used a liquid crystal display device that projected my presentation onto a screen. This was new technology in 1994. And it took a longtime to create and set up.
So when we were on the field trip to the battlefield, I could not use the new fancy equipment. There were no plugs and no electricity, just 30 people in the middle of some rice paddies. I was relegated to an old standby we called, “butcher block” paper, on an aluminum stand. Today we know this as “flip chart” paper. I felt my creative juices flowing as I reenacted the battle on paper with colored pencils, crayons, and markers. Continue reading
They wash over us like water over a dam. You see them, read them, and absorb them constantly.
- “Hire slow, fire fast.”
- “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
- “Start before you are ready.”
- “Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.”
- “Just take massive action.”
- “FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Success”
After a while, you can find a business mantra, maxim, motto or mnemonic device for about any perspective you want or need. Doesn’t it feel good when you fire up Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter and your favorite guru pumps out a motivational quote or platitude superimposed on a beautiful scene that completely supports your viewpoint, position, angle, or emotion you are currently experiencing? You may even silently say to yourself, “See, XYZ agrees with me, we must use PDQ subscription model when we launch our new service.”
Really? Is that the best way to solve the problems we face as Founder & CEOs? Frankly, I get a bit weary of the trite mnemonics, or the latest “5 steps to XYZ,” or “How to fix EFG without IJK” leadership advice I often see. I understand that these things help click through rates and also serve some Startup CEOs. I’m sure you’ll sometimes see them from me too. Continue reading
Have you ever met a Founder who wasn’t predisposed to “action orientation?” The Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP) developed by Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida defines this as “a tendency to show initiative, make decisions quickly, and feel impatient for results.” Ha! Impatient? I’m a Founder CEO and NOTHING ever happens as fast as I want it to (Can you relate?). In fact, I have now interviewed over 50 Founder & CEOs on the “From Founder To CEO” podcast and in interview after interview they talk about the challenges they face when trying to tear themselves away from their drug of choice – fast and fulfilling tasks.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the “blind spot” answers from my Founder & CEOs on the podcast:
All of the Founding CEOs above are fantastically successful and don’t let their predisposition for “action orientation,” override their good judgment on tasks. Continue reading
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From CPA To Co-Founder To CEO! Ryan Watson Leads The Sqrl Team, As It Reinvents Financial Services: Sqrl Co-founder & CEO, Ryan Watson, started out as CPA and left his employer to start his own firm with two others. They wanted to create a tech enabled service for accountants so they can more efficiently deliver outsourced accounting work. And, they did! The result is SQRL. Along the way, Ryan has learned a great deal about becoming a CEO. He gives us a behind the scenes look at the importance of clearly defining roles and being comfortable not having all the answers. He’s also a very nice, humble guy who isn’t afraid to share with others. Give a listen.