This type of query cuts right to the heart of why I started writing — to share whatever information I can to the new CEO who is trying to figure everything out.
Know this — You are embarking on an incredible journey, an emotional roller-coaster that will forever change you.
Here are my most important pieces of advice:
Don’t worry about trying to replicate other CEOs and their style. Instead, find an approach that works for you and best suits your personality. There is no rulebook. There are guidelines and best practices, but you need to find what works for yourself and your company. Something about YOU got you to this point. Harness that and let that come out and try to ignore your lack of confidence.
Trust your instincts
You are unique and special, and you need to believe what’s gotten you this far. Remember, what you’re doing is very hard, and you need to recognize that and trust your feelings.
Make mistakes and recover quickly.
CEOs are generally driven and not afraid of failure. Mentally prepare for failure. It’s inevitable and necessary. If you’re not failing, you’re not aggressive enough. Successful businesses and entrepreneurs have discovered how to fail and recover quickly. That’s the secret — no one is perfect, and especially in business, every decision could easily be the wrong one. The goal is to be able to absorb the failures, strengthen, and grow.
Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and make time for yourself
If you’re not sharp and alert, you’re useless. I still struggle with this as it’s very easy to get absorbed in work. Break away and give yourself the proper recovery time. Mornings are best; get up early and exercise for 20–30 minutes. The day can only get better from there.
Find virtual mentors
Read, listen, and watch what others are doing. Start with the more well-known CEOs and leaders and digest everything you can. You’ll come across patterns that won’t fit. That’s great, you’re finding your style! Watch interviews, listen to podcasts, read lots of books. Find your style through the experiences of others. Once you come across something that you connect with, give it a shot. Implement and test ideas. Measure the results and make changes as you go.
Talk it out
Being a CEO can be very lonely. No one can actually understand what you’re going through. Talking through some of the challenges and daily adventures is a great way to casually get feedback and build confidence in yourself as a leader.
Like any other role in the company, CEO leadership is developed and mastered over time. It takes years of decision making, failures, and recoveries to develop the thick skin needed to handle the role properly. It’s a journey and one that doesn’t end. Every CEO or business leader that you admire is still on a voyage of discovery.
Last piece of advice
Hire great people. It will take time — ‘A’ players may be tough to convince initially, but eventually it will get easier. Building the right team is the most important role of the CEO. Create the vision, and form the team to execute the vision. Be real. Be authentic. Don’t be a jerk. Be transparent. Be emotional. Your team will see strength in this and will follow you. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about integrity and passion.