Seven lessons from hiring a CEO that is smarter than me. I’ve been an entrepreneur for roughly 22 years now. When I started out I wanted to be the head honcho, you know, the CEO, the one in charge. And ideally I wanted to be the CEO of a really big company and maybe one day that company would be publicly traded on the stock exchange. Over the years, I’ve learned two things about myself.
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First, I am a terrible manager when it comes to managing a large amount of people such as a hundred plus people, 10, 20 people, no problem. I’m just not good when it comes to a large organization with layers.
The second thing that I learned is I don’t think it’s fun to be a manager or a leader. Some people enjoy it. I enjoy some aspects of it as well but I don’t enjoy most of it. For example, I love helping people grow and teaching them new things but I don’t enjoy tons of meetings or quarterly planning or a lot of the other things that are required from a good CEO. So over the years, I’ve built a business model in which I’m never the CEO of my own company.
So here are seven lessons that I learned from hiring other talented CEOs and executives over the year.
Lesson one, people grow a business. It doesn’t matter if you’re Elon Musk or Bill Gates, without a team it’s really hard to be successful. But here’s the thing, good people follow good people around. And good people don’t follow bad people around. Just because someone was the CEO of another competing company it doesn’t mean they were good. And you want good people or else they will bring over mediocre talent, which means you won’t grow.
Second, they had to be at those jobs for a while. So if they have a good portfolio, they need to be there for a while and they need to have worked their way up in those companies, because if they worked their way up that means other people found them to be valuable and the chances are they’ll do well for you. This reduces the chance of having bad people within your organization as that can be toxic and that can slow down growth.
Lesson two, as a marketer, I always believe that the best way to grow a company is marketing combined with a good product or service. And keep in mind, I’m young, being that I’m in my 30s I don’t have as much experience as some of these seasoned executives who are in their 50s or 60s. One thing I learned from working with these seasoned executives is that a business also grows with time.
Lesson three, experience doesn’t always equal to being right. By no means, do I think I know everything, if I did, I would be the CEO of my own company versus hiring one. But what has allowed me to continually build companies that are successful and grow fast is that I think outside the box, and I’m always willing to try new things to achieve better growth, especially ones that my competition think are a waste of time and they aren’t willing to try out.
Lesson four, don’t try to do everything your way. You are hiring a CEO or executive because they can do a job better than you. If they can’t don’t hire them. But when you hire them, you have to let them do certain things their way. You can’t have the your way or highway mentality. As the saying goes, there are multiple ways to skin a cat. Your way may be correct, but their way may also be correct too.
Less than five, you can’t take culture for granted. Culture helps you recruit and retain people. Culture helps you build an amazing company that builds a great product or service that people love. It also helps you make an impact with your team members, your customers, and even the world.
Lesson six, CEOs have to set an example. I hate hiring executives who only want to manage and tell other people what to do. I look for player coaches. They of course, should be able to run a company and manage people, but they have to be willing to get their hands dirty and do work themselves. I want them to be a great individual contributor for at least a portion of their time.
Lesson seven, talent and brains can’t replace hard work. I used to hire really smart people who were naturally talented and just were great at what they did. But many of those people were just lazy. These days, I don’t care if someone went to Harvard, Stanford, heck I don’t even care what their grades were in college or even if they have a college degree. If someone isn’t a hard worker you are screwed because if they aren’t willing to work hard how can you expect the rest of the company to work hard?
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