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How to Navigate Your Evolution as a CEO Powered by
This presentation consists of insights inspired by 33voices® interviews with Jenna Abdou.
Table of Contents How to Be the Ultimate Coach — Laurel & Wolf Page 4 Set the Pace in Your Market — Minibar Page 23 Transparency Starts at the Top — Yello Page 33 Maintain Creative Curiosity Through Scale — Bond Street Page 44 Empower a Team of Risk Takers — Brew Media Relations Page 50 How to Balance Your Big Picture Vision — Common Page 56 The Crucial Case for Founders to Detach — Loverly Page 62 Reassurance For the Journey — Wellframe Page 68 Credits Page 74
How to Be the Ultimate Coach Leura Fine Co-Founder and CEO of Laurel & Wolf @leurafine
Approach your role as CEO like being a championship coach. “The goal is to build out the best possible team so you can be writing the plays, linking them up with strategies and running practices.”
Use these three traits to identify A Players:
Use these three traits to identify A Players: Empathy: “People who care about people is a must.”
Use these three traits to identify A Players: Creativity: In the words of Jason Calacanis, “Can you get there on what you’ve got?”
Use these three traits to identify A Players: Optimism: When you’re navigating uncharted territory, team members should not only be comfortable with uncertainty they should thrive on it.
“There are a lot of people out there who if you say ‘I need you to build a bridge.’ They’ll say: ‘I can build you the perfect bridge. Here’s what I need.’ When you’re trying to do something that has never been done before, you need the people who when you say ‘I need you to build me a bridge. All we have is weeds and floss.’ They’ll respond by saying, ‘I can build you the world’s strongest bridge.’”
To gain insight into an individual’s depth understand how and why they’ve made past decisions.
“Understanding why people have made certain life choices: How they’ve dealt with good circumstances, bad circumstances, great jobs and bad jobs, demonstrates their aptitude to think outside of the box and be a team player.”
Once you bring individuals on the team, empower them with the freedom to run with new ideas. Make it simple to suggest and start projects.
To pitch a new idea, ask team members to create a brief document answering:
To pitch a new idea, ask team members to create a brief document answering: Why is this idea important?
To pitch a new idea, ask team members to create a brief document answering: What does it involve?
To pitch a new idea, ask team members to create a brief document answering: What is the impact?
To pitch a new idea, ask team members to create a brief document answering: Are there any required costs?
Leading a team of initiators is vital for growth. However, it’s equally important to root your culture in “an understanding and patience around how the team works together, not just as departments, but as a company.”
Make recognition a habit. Use meetings as an opportunity for team members to recognize colleagues who helped them with a project or hit an important milestone.
The foundation of scaling is balancing the big picture vision with quarterly goals and daily tasks. Find quiet time to refine the company’s long-term vision. Translate the big picture into tangible milestones you can achieve each quarter.
Your ultimate goal as a CEO is to: Build a productive team capable of balancing speed with sustainable growth.
Set the Pace in Your Market Lara Crystal & Lindsey Andrews Founders of Minibar @MinibarDelivery
Productivity is critical to setting the pace in your market. Minibar used these execution strategies to expand to 18 cities in 18 months:
Productivity is critical to setting the pace in your market. Minibar used these execution strategies to expand to 18 cities in 18 months: Daily stand-ups to discuss what everyone is working on.
Productivity is critical to setting the pace in your market. Minibar used these execution strategies to expand to 18 cities in 18 months: Taking advantage of being small. “The more you can keep moving before you have to put in all of the checks and balances the better off you are.”
Productivity is critical to setting the pace in your market. Minibar used these execution strategies to expand to 18 cities in 18 months: Prioritizing the macro tasks that will move the business forward today or this week.
Productivity is critical to setting the pace in your market. Minibar used these execution strategies to expand to 18 cities in 18 months: Testing and iterating quickly: “If you’re trying to make something perfect you’re never going to get it out there.”
Productivity is critical to setting the pace in your market. Minibar used these execution strategies to expand to 18 cities in 18 months: Recognizing that priorities shift over time. “Some things become more important. You can’t drive yourself crazy about it. Half the time the last 5% of projects may not get done. The key is to be okay with that.”
“Make speed a habit by setting the example that if you have to do something do it right now.”
Make clear, honest communication your foundational value. How would you feel if everything about your startup was public? Being good and kind should always be a core value.
Become a verb. Lara and Lindsey’s ultimate goal is for you to say: “I Minibared it!”
Transparency Starts at the Top Jason Weingarten Co-Founder and CEO of Yello @jasonweingarten
A startup is continuously evolving. As CEO, you’re responsible for rising to the occasion at every phase.
“In 2008, I was good at everything but I wasn’t great at anything. I would work on a project where I was the business analyst, the designer, the project manager and the solutions consultant.”
Defining and shaping your vision never stops. Constantly be asking your team these questions:
Defining and shaping your vision never stops. Constantly be asking your team these questions: Why did you get into this business?
Defining and shaping your vision never stops. Constantly be asking your team these questions: What do you like about your job?
Defining and shaping your vision never stops. Constantly be asking your team these questions: What are the end results to the solutions that we provide?
Defining and shaping your vision never stops. Constantly be asking your team these questions: Where do you see the industry in five years?
Default to transparency. Problems arise when people ask “Why didn’t I know about this?”
Make it a priority to build celebration into your culture. Whether it’s birthday cakes, holiday parties, or special traditions your company will not scale if people aren’t excited to come to work every day.
Put your skin in the game. At Yello, the same metrics must be met for anyone in the company to receive a bonus. “It’s not the title. It’s the team effort. It’s very important that when we make a decision, the decision isn’t based on one person’s or one team’s goal.”
Maintain Creative Curiosity Through Scale David Haber Co-Founder and CEO of Bond Street @dhaber
The more your business scales the more tempting it is to throw people and capital at problems. Regardless of your size, approach every problem with a sense of curiosity.
Make decisions with conviction by planting a stake with your company values. Bond Street’s are: “Be bold. Take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
“We’re not here to build and create an incremental improvement to what exists. We’re here to radically change what the lending experience should feel like.”
Whether it’s your customers, team members or partners people appreciate candidness. Default to transparency.
At the end of the day, exercise this principle as your single point truth: “Success doesn’t dictate working hard or being humble…We are only going to be successful if we help other people be successful.”
Empower a Team of Risk Takers Brooke Hammerling Founder of Brew Media Relations @brooke
The most meaningful way to support your colleagues, friends, and team members is to: “Always give time. Never make anyone feel like what they’re asking is burdensome.”
Be genuinely curious about unearthing an individual’s hidden breadth. Get to know people beyond their titles.
The only way to inspire your team to be bold is to be bold yourself. Brooke orchestrated a story about Oracle Founder Larry Ellison - one of the most powerful individuals in the world - on the cover of a marketing magazine. What would have happened if it backfired?
Own your convictions. “We’re not a ‘yes agency.’ We’re going to push back and tell it like it is.”
The best way to encourage your team to take risks is to take responsibility. This is how Brooke does it: “One of the things I try to do at Brew is to get everyone on the team to know that if there’s a mess up I’ll take the hit… Taking responsibility is a beautiful thing to teach.”
How to Balance Your Big Picture Vision Brad Hargreaves Founder and CEO of Common @bhargreaves
“It’s never as good as it seems nor as bad.” Maintaining perspective is the most important habit you need as a CEO. Practice it.
“There will be really good times and really bad times. You have to tell yourself in the good times that it’s not as good as it seems… and during the bad times that it’s not as bad as it seems. You get better at telling yourself that. You make better decisions the more you convince yourself that’s true.”
Make self-awareness your guiding principle. Work on your strengths. Hire for your weaknesses.
“The best founders know what they do best. The worst thing founders can do is convince themselves that they understand something they don’t.”
“The greatest challenge of an entrepreneur’s journey is balancing being incremental and being visionary. You have to own the big vision. What does this look like in 20 years? At the same time, you have to be incredibly incremental, almost scientific, with how you take individual steps toward that vision. If you don’t have the big vision you are optimizing towards nothing.”
The Crucial Case for Founders to Detach Kellee Khalil Founder and CEO of Loverly @kellee
Life as CEO becomes more challenging as you bring on more partners and projects. Make it a priority to focus on your personal well-being through scale.
“Over the last three years, there have been so many highs and lows. I’ve gotten to a point where I realize that I, Kellee Khalil, am not Loverly. The business on its own is an entity. Me, as a person, it’s important that I’m happy and that my happiness is not tied to the success of the business.”
“Your work is not you. Your work is something you create. It’s not who you are.”
Focus on your strengths as your business scales. Your company is better off when you embrace the parts of the process that only you can do.
Detaching from your work is easier said than done. To stay on track, step away from the task at hand, spend time with loved ones, or reduce stress with physical activity.
Reassurance For the Journey Jacob Sattelmair Co-Founder and CEO of Wellframe @JakeSatt
Regardless of the positions you’ve held before, nothing compares to being a founder.
“I’ve done a lot of different things before this. I’ve never learned as much about myself, as well as the world, as I have per day doing this.”
The only way to survive the ups and downs is to love what you do. Celebrate incremental progress and prepare for an imperfect path.
If you’re starting your company with the sole goal of becoming a unicorn this likely isn’t the right profession for you. “You really have to embrace the journey and feel that no matter what the outcome is, it’s worth it.”
Are you in this for the right reasons?
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