Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

So You Want to Be a CEO

Every now and then, I talk at the Silicon Valley Engineering Leadership Community (https://www.meetup.com/SV-ELC/). It's a group of mid and senior level engineering managers.

Many of them have aspirations to be a CEO. I tried to explain that the job isn't all rainbows-and-unicorns.

  • Login to see the comments

  • Be the first to like this

So You Want to Be a CEO

  1. 1. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 1 So You Want To Be A CEO March 2017
  2. 2. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 2 About Me • Former Mathematician • Former AI Researcher • CTO or VP/E at five startups • Interim CEO at one • Currently CEO of Scientific Revenue
  3. 3. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 3 Not Me
  4. 4. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 4 Ground Rules • No recording • The slides will not be available • I sometimes swear • I like clipart. When you get bored, look at the pictures • Ask questions • I’m not a believer in “Let’s make this interactive.” If you want to make a speech, check with Ron and get a speaking slot • This is for your benefit
  5. 5. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 5 CEO Superpower The 15 Things I Thought Would Be True When I Became CEO That Aren’t
  6. 6. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 6 I’ll Stay True to This Paragraph Here’s the down-and-dirty: How to understand the boss. What the CEO's life is like. And for some of you eyeing what looks like an alluring career path… Are you really sure you want to? If you do, what the transition to being a CEO really takes. Some of it will be genuinely new, some of it will be things that you already know that will surprise you anyway.
  7. 7. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 7 TL;DR
  8. 8. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 8 CEO Must Do Nine Things •Cash Extraction Officer • Calibrate against the one-year-from-now vision • Represent the company publicly • Constantly synthesize and resynthesize all known facts • Make sure everyone knows what to do • Catalyze decisions • Be decisive • Get out of the way • Do what needs to be done
  9. 9. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 9 If you do anything else, you’re doing too much
  10. 10. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 10 It’s All About Soft Power
  11. 11. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 11 No Grown-Up Should Want to Be CEO
  12. 12. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 12 (Alternate Version)
  13. 13. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 13 Success is Mostly Luck Mission: Cross the Ocean and Arrive in the Right Place
  14. 14. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 14 Peter Thiel: Valid Objection To “Luck”
  15. 15. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 15 It’s a Shitty Job, But I’ll (Probably) Keep Doing It
  16. 16. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 16 21 Things You Already Know
  17. 17. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 17 As CEO, You Are an Awesome Being • You are smarter than most people in your company • You care more than anyone else • You are more invested than anyone else • You know less about any particular named-thing than most people in the company
  18. 18. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 18 People Are Hot Messes • Most people want the company to do well • Most people's personal goals aren't aligned with the company’s goals • Most people don’t know what their personal goals are • Most people act in accordance with either their personal goals or for short-term satisfaction • Most people avoid conflict • Most people don't want to make decisions • Most people want to be nice • Most people are ruled by fear • Nobody will tells you the truth. Even when they think they are telling the truth, they aren’t
  19. 19. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 19 People Are Bad at Their Adult Parts of their Jobs • Most people would rather not do the boring bits of their job • People overlook details • People pivot to fires • People want to work on what the CEO is paying attention to (but do not want to be responsible for it)
  20. 20. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 20 Whenever someone should have done something, and it was important, and they didn’t do it, and they have some nicely plausible excuse for why they did something else that was much more interesting (in a superficial way) but also much less important, and the excuse doesn’t really hold water at all, don’t think “WTF”, think “Mermaids!” If You Only Remember One Thing … There’s Always a Mermaid in the Background
  21. 21. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 21 People Are Hot Messes • Most people want the company to do well • Most people's personal goals aren't aligned with the company’s goals • Most people don’t know what their personal goals are • Most people act in accordance with either their personal goals for short-term satisfaction • Most people avoid conflict • Most people don't want to make decisions • Most people want to be nice • Most people are ruled by fear • Nobody will tells you the truth. Even when they think they are telling the truth, they aren’t
  22. 22. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 22 The Deck is Stacked Against You • You have limited time with anyone in the org • Suppurating flesh wounds, left untreated, tend to get worse • You will only learn about suppurating flesh wounds. Nobody will tell you about scratches • Once Rome has been sacked, it cannot be unsacked. The Visigoths only have to win once
  23. 23. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 23 The Deck is Stacked Against You • You have limited time with anyone in the org • Suppurating flesh wounds, left untreated, tend to get worse • You will only learn about suppurating flesh wounds. Nobody will tell you about scratches • Once Rome has been sacked, it cannot be unsacked. The Visigoths only have to win once
  24. 24. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 24 Some Interesting Consequences
  25. 25. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 25 It’s All About the Story • Encouraging ownership is the most important thing you can do • Ownership without big picture is useless, so telling the story becomes super important • Simplifying the story is always worthwhile • It's all about choosing the right cliche
  26. 26. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 26 The magic of selling the same thing at different price points How much is the large human bridle worth?
  27. 27. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 27 Crisis are Really Interesting • By the time you know about a crisis, it's almost too late • In a crisis? Overreact • Not in a crisis? Do very little
  28. 28. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 28 Support is Valuable. Advice is Not • Most advice is useless • Most people don't know enough to offer advice • Most people don’t know enough to know that they don’t know enough to offer advice • Most people don't know their advice is wrong, pointless, stupid, and useless • Most people get pissed off when you ignore their advice • Don’t try to explain to a person giving advice why their advice is wrong. That becomes an argument with a bad outcome • You will never win an argument with your board, because they will choose to not listen
  29. 29. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 29 Support Group is Invaluable
  30. 30. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 30 Sales and Marketing Are Really Hard
  31. 31. © 2017. Company Confidential and Not for Redistribution. info@scientificrevenue.com 31 Thank You William Grosso, CEO bill@scientificrevenue.com (650) 575-0710

×