Tag Archives: responsibilties

How to learn to “Let Go”

Happy grandmother holding twin boysThis was a first for us.

Watery eyes led to tears.

One lingering hug led to another tighter and more emotional hug.

We said good bye to our children.

They would not be with us for an entire week.

This was the recent scene when my wife and I left our children with my Mom to live with her for a week of summer vacation fun. This was the first time we had ever done this.

It was pretty difficult for us to let go, even if it was for a short time period with someone in whom we have immense trust.

These intense emotions remind me of the same emotions so many Founding CEOs have shared with me over the past year and a half on the “From Founder To CEO” podcast.

Many of my guests have expressed two powerful sentiments:

  • They share their deep emotions about how hard it is to “let go” of running the day-to-day operations of the business they started, “let go” of being the prime driver of their product or service, and “let go” of being the only source of inspiration and motivation of the company’s mission.
  • They wish they would have learned to “let go” earlier.

Why is it so difficult for you to “let go?” I could fill this blog with the many reasons that have been given over the years. The truth is, it is different for each one of us. Some are practical reasons, some our personality related reasons, some are marketplace related reasons, some are investor related reasons, and some of us just don’t know how to “let go.”

You would be hard pressed to find a large number of Founding CEOs that would disagree that “letting go” is an important step on the road to scaling yourself from Founder to CEO and scaling your company. And while I do think it’s important to uncover the source of “letting go,” I think it’s just as important to take some positive steps that give you that added extra nudge to make it happen.

Here are a few things you might want to consider if you find it hard to “let go” and transform yourself into the CEO hidden inside of you.

  • Make a list of the things you don’t like to do. Prioritize them with the least enjoyable on top. Hire a virtual assistant to do the things you least like to do.
  • Carve out at least one hour a week during the work day to just close your eyes and think about what it looks like to be “productive” when you are no longer the only leader of your product or service.
  • Increase your number of “days off” (at least out of the office) you take in a month from probably zero to one a month until you reach four weeks of vacation a year. Yes, four weeks.
  • Ask five people who know you, this one question: “What one thing am I doing right now that I am not very good at and I should consider handing off to someone else?”
  • Pursue at least one hobby or interest outside of work that requires your time and attention for at least two to three hours a week.

Our children arrived home safely and my wife and I were able to enjoy some peace, relaxation, and a very nice anniversary dinner. But, the real reward was the sense of trust and the opportunity for development that was given to our children.

How have you begun to “let go” and scale your company?

Feel free to share your stories below so that we all can learn from your experiences.

What Do Pokemon Go and Startup Teams Have In Common?

47-PokeMon-Pic#1-11JUL2016After returning home from the sensory overload of Universal Studios, Orlando, I was looking forward to an easy, quiet weekend back home in Ohio.

But, the refrigerator was empty, so it was time to hop down to our local Kroger to pick up some groceries. As I drove down the road, a group of young boys almost darted out into the road. Fortunately I saw them and they stayed on the sidewalk.

It was somewhat peculiar. They all seemed to be laughing and enjoying themselves while staring at the phones. People staring at their phones isn’t a new phenomena, so I didn’t think twice about it.

That was until I saw more groups of people roaming neighborhoods, intently marching down the sidewalks, canvassing the park, and generally balancing a focus on their phones, with a focus on their group, and a focus on the environment around them.

It seemed a bit odd, I thought to myself.

When I arrived back at home, my Snapchat feed was exploding with…Pokémon Go. What? You have not heard about Pokémon Go? I hadn’t either. But, wow! When it started to have nearly as many active users as Twitter, I took note.

While the active user numbers are quite the achievement, the thing that caught my attention were the groups of people traveling in my neighborhood. It dawned on me that they were all probably playing Pokémon Go. And, they reminded me of some startup teams.

How? A small group of people focused on their electronic devices traveling in the same general direction all focused on the same opportunity.

So, why bring this up?

One young man in the group that almost ran in front of my car looked up from his phone, looked across the intersection, and extended both arms to block the advance of his friends to prevent them from unexpectedly walking into traffic.

Isn’t that what Founding CEOs do? Isn’t it your job to stop, take a look over the horizon, and ensure the team is headed in the right direction, safely?

This is one of those subtle responsibility shifts that we learn as we transition from Founder to CEO. Yes, many of you are “heads down” wearing many hats and rarely have the time to pop your head up and check the horizon.

My hope is that as your company grows and you embrace your CEO role more, you’ll realize that there really isn’t anyone else but you who has the responsibility to gaze into the future and plan 1, 2, and 3 years out.

Your team is heads down, nose-to-the-grindstone, focusing on delivering near term results. It’s increasingly important that you increase the amount of time you spend on the future, on planning, on ensuring your team doesn’t veer into traffic.

How much time do you spend “looking up” and peering into the future?

What do you do to remind yourself of this unique responsibility that really only you have?

Share your thought below so we can all learn from your experiences.

Are Your Team Members Clear About Their Roles?

businessman showing Know your role words underneath his shirt over white backgroundLast week my wife and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. She is my rock, my inspiration, and my behind-the-scenes co-founder.

Over the years we have assumed certain roles and responsibilities. That’s especially true when we travel. We recently returned from a family trip to Universal Studios, Orlando. My wife took care of airline, hotel, and theme park ticketing. I took care of getting the house ready, securing the rental car, and coordinating our family visits.

Sometimes we aren’t exactly clear about these type of roles and responsibilities and it can cause a few fireworks. I’ve noticed the same thing happens in new and mature startups.

It’s pretty important for startup teams to get clarity on roles and even revisit the topic on a regular basis. One of my favorite Harvard Business Review articles on the subject [“The Biggest Mistake You (Probably) Make with Teams”] summarized some research on the topic. Here is what it said: “collaboration improves when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined and well understood.”

If it’s so important for you, your co-founder, and your team members to be clear about roles and responsibilities, why do many startup teams miss this?

To be sure, many of the Founding CEO guests on my podcast have credited much of their team’s success to absolute role clarity. Yet, recently a CEO told me one of his direct reports is unclear about his responsibilities. I asked the direct report myself and he agreed. Things just morphed over time, they both suggested.

If you find that your team members are in need or some clarity about roles and responsibilities, here are some tips that you may want to consider:

  • Invite your team members to take an inventory of what they perceive to be their individual roles and responsibilities.
  • Invite them to share their lists with each member of the team and have these other team members add or subtract what they thought.
  • Invite the team members to brief the team on another team member’s list of responsibilities and facilitate a dialogue about the findings.
  • Ask team members if their responsibilities are consistent with their current interests and passions.
  • Facilitate a dialogue around the types of technologies that could relieve the team of some duties and responsibilities.
  • Consider creating a shared spreadsheet or database of all the responsibilities and ensure there is a name next to each one.

It might be a good idea to visit the idea of team responsibilities at least once a year.

Are you, your co-founder, and team members clear about your roles?