The New Boss

I got an email from a friend who is starting a CEO job. He said to me “I’d love any thoughts or advice you have as a new CEO joining a company.”

I have reached out to a number of CEOs I know who have taken over companies recently and am compiling a list of suggestions.

But given the number of great CEOs in the AVC community, I would be remiss if I didn’t pose this question to all of you as well.

What are the one or two pieces of advice you would give a friend who is taking over as CEO of a new company?

I suspect this is going to be a great comment thread.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Aaron Klein

    Take the first 90 days and learn from your people. Dig into the numbers and know the physics of your business. Observe your people doing every job in the company. Set expectations with your board about that first quarter. Most of all, get a coach to give you perspective when things get hard…because they will get hard. And have fun on the journey!

    1. fredwilson

      get a coach. that’s very good advice.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Found mine through AVC. 😉

        1. hstebbings1

          good response Aaron! I think of AVC as a MOOC for CEOs, Founders and VCs!

        2. kenberger

          Can you share more about how the arrangement works? Comp-wise, attracting the right one to work with you, etc?

          1. Aaron Klein

            I think the fit between coach and CEO has to be very personal. I’ve been a big admirer of JLM and his wisdom on AVC over the years so when I decided to start working with a coach again recently, he was my first choice. Comp is negotiable; I found his approach very reasonable.

          2. Vasudev Ram

            I kind of guessed it was @JLM when you said you found the coach here 🙂

          3. Lawrence Brass

            Me too, in fact I think you could build the coolest board and advisor team just with the regular visitors of this bar.

      2. Devon Cartwright

        Perennial advice to any incumbent CEO’s :- Sleep with the CTO and get out of the bed with the CFO. Breakfast with your engineers and lunch with the CMO. Golf with your customers//vendors.If you miss out on any of the above, you will have to take uber/lyft to go home and have manna for dinner.Excellent case study of a fucked up company in recent times :- Twitter

        1. Twain Twain

          Ha! Are you an engineer? You sound like one because you prioritize the CTO and engineers.Twitter’s CTO recently disposed of shares:*…I feel like new CEOs should ask senior mgmt NOT TO SELL ANY SHARES within the first 9-12 months, so as not to send signals to the market that could be misinterpreted.

          1. LE

            Sure as long as they are willing to disclose that at the time they make their job offer.

          2. Twain Twain

            True. And sometimes people dispose of shares to pay school fees (or other personal reasons) and not because of loss of confidence in company. That doesn’t get reported, though.

          3. LE

            That doesn’t get reported, though.Well it could. They could issue a press release saying the person sold shares for a particular reason. While I can’t say I’ve seen a press release myself I have seen stories detailing reasons (back channel PR) and I’m sure there have been press releases of this type somewhere sometime. At that point people can either choose to believe the info or not. Also nothing to prevent others at the company from buying more stock (if they really believe in the company) than the person selling.

          4. Devon Cartwright

            Yes. you got it right. I was an engineer but now in a leadership role.In my tenure here, I have seen two CEO’s replaced in no time and they got in a new CEO, an Indian I guess, who was primarily focused on the product side. Not only did he turn around the company , he has also set the dictum of an efficient management style where becoming successful is the only option.

    2. awaldstein

      ‘physics of the company” good one and already used today.

    3. Susan Fowler

      “Observe your people doing every job in the company” <- I think this is the most important thing you can do. See what the company is actually like at the ground floor. Spend time with employees at each level, and ask them what their job is really like, what their concerns are, etc. I’ve seen several executives (and many, many managers) neglect to do this, and then start pushing a vision and goals, start telling employees to do things that make no sense to anyone at the company – the new guys just had ZERO ideas about how things actually worked (most of them don’t care to know, either, sadly).BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE, UNDERSTAND YOUR NEW COMPANY.

    4. gbradt

      Get a head start. Manage your message. Set direction and build your team. Sustain momentum and deliver results. (From my book, “The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan”) – George Bradt

    5. Vasudev Ram

      > Observe your people doing …Similar to MBWA – Management By Wandering Around. Hewlett Packard technique I think. I’ve practised it some, earlier, and it works well. One benefit is that you get to know of issues earlier, so can take action sooner.

  2. LIAD

    I suppose it’s highly contextual.Company stage. Company trajectory. Company morale. Reason for CEO departure. Whether new CEO promoted from within. Whether old CEO is transisitoned up or out.Recently, in techville:Dorsey replaced Costolo. Couldn’t have been more full of praise for him.Sacks replaced Conrad. Couldn’t have thrown him harder under the bus.They were probably both the right thing to do.I suppose the only constant is to do whatever is needed to maintain the confidence and respect of your team.

  3. Varun

    Not a CEO but thought this is fitting.Courtesy: Peter Fischli & David Weiss

    1. hstebbings1

      love it Varun, nice touch!

    2. Jess Bachman

      11. Ignore lists of banal platitudes.

      1. creative group

        Jess Bachman:We ran to the upvote section of Varun twenty upvotes to see if any notable or CEO contributors upvoted and couldn’t pull it up on the phone. Will revisit to see who is paying attention to banal platitudes as you outlined.All written cheatsheets, mantra’s and positive affirmations are not all destructive to growth. Usually it is how one uses it as a guide or crutch.

        1. Rob Larson

          On a mobile phone the up vote button is very close to the “show image” button. I suspect many of the up votes were really inadvertent attempts to view the image – I know mine was for 30 seconds till I realized what happened.

      2. Kurt Kumar


    3. Twain Twain

      THIS: Distinguish sense from nonsense.Plus this: you are the foundation upon which a house and home is built, so make yourself stronger (get coach, learn better skills, implement+improve, work those people muscles).And I feel like there should be a list of JLM-isms on a wall somewhere like this pic!

      1. Chimpwithcans

        I think if there were such a list, you would agree with its points, probably even more than you agree with yourself

        1. Twain Twain

          Haha! Well, @JLM:disqus does say a lot of things that make practical business sense.

  4. Tom Labus

    Maintain common sense. Sounds easy but can be quickly lost.

    1. Humberto

      1. common sense and passion. 2. write down your personal and clear business objectives for the first quarter in the company and don’t lose track of them

    2. Girish Mehta

      And Maintain Equanimity.What the wise man said…4 words that apply to all times, good and bad…”This too shall pass”.

  5. Woody Benson

    Grant Exec Staff (directs) Amnesty Day & Discover All the Warts & Issues without fear of retribution. Other than discovering issues has added benefit of solving together.

  6. richard bookman

    Be an anthropologist, not a colonialist.

  7. Perry Chance

    Define your company’s purpose and keep your team focused on the prize and having fun. Reflect daily and adjust when necessary but be honest with yourself and your team. Obviously there’s a ton more that goes into being a “CEO” but ultimately that position is all about how one handles the turbulent times and deflecting credit to your team during the calmer ones. IMO.

  8. hstebbings1

    The most important thing to remember going in is: they have brought you in for a reason and it is now your job to change what has gone before and make your mark. Transition is always hard but when it is for the better, people understand and adjust, if they do not, well, that is a telling sign hat they no longer belong at the company.

  9. gira

    listen, learn, act

  10. Jeff Janer

    Begin at the end. Let everyone know where the company is headed. Instill a sense of contempt for obstacles. Say thank you.

  11. Kate Hodsdon

    I’m not that CEO but know a few, and learned from my dad. The best ones seem to know the company as a whole, by getting to know the people in that company as a whole. That includes the receptionist to the team assistants and mid levels climbing a ladder. When times get tough, top guys play politics and cover backs, those other guys tend to watch your back and show support if they believe you’ve made the effort. (Or maybe that’s the old way…) Good luck to your friend.

  12. Ole Jakob Thorsen

    Take nothing for granted and be very aware that everything you do and say will be subject to a lot of interpretation and extrapolation.

  13. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Combine confidence, humility and enthusiasm and remember you can never buy or expect trust, but you can practice them.

  14. Lawrence Brass

    I am the master tinkerer at my company not a CEO yet but I would like to suggest something implied in this early Fred post: Sleep well and rise early, you will have a better and more productive day.

  15. repsah

    1) get to know your people, the more, the better2) build your vision statement and let every department of your company define their own vision in accordance to that3) do the same with your mission4) make sure those statements are visible and read every day5) adjust your strategy based on that and bring everyone aboard that strategy6) measure -> learn -> adjust

  16. Frederik

    Let him have just this little piece of advice:Never lose track of the founder(s)’ vision. Yes, financials are sometimes more important in the short run, but in the end it’s the vision that matters. If you don’t believe in it, then why should your customers?

  17. Eric Satz

    Publicly reward the employee behaviors you want repeated.

  18. Erich Lehmann

    When Paul O’Neill joined Alcoa as the new CEO he found the ‘keystone habit’ of the company (which was safety) and focused his efforts around that single habit. By the time O’Neill retired in 2000, the company’s annual net income was five times larger than before he arrived. http://www.huffingtonpost.c

  19. Pieter

    Top 2 things:- Make yourself very familiar with the company & business (product, customers, market, capabilities, team, industry, channels, etc)- Redefine (if needed) & clearly communicate mission, vision & strategy (how we win, why we believe)This creates trust and helps build the team, which will form the foundation.

  20. Stuart Kime

    All fights and corporate dysfunction are related to boundaries. Check the written job descriptions for the top 10-20 people in the company. Two owners are no owners. If there aren’t written job responsibilities, have every write what they think they are.

  21. Mortimer Singer

    Empathy for 90 days. Then communicate with clarity.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      I have seen many times heads chopped (mine included) between the empathy and communication stages you mention. Hard players usually target the inner circle of the old king as a way to reinforce their authority. I call these “cavemen CEOs”.

  22. pfkrieg

    As a finance exec, would strongly recommend that in the first 14 days he identify the reporting he wants in order to measure the business, and get it going within 30 days. He can and should iterate, but having the right financial and operational reporting helps change from citing n hunches, to managing. Too often, there are reasons “we can’t do that yet” and a year on, you are still flying half blind

  23. SDB

    It does depend on the size of the company, maturity stage, situation, and even to some extent the industry.*Be patient through the first 6 months. You will be (may be) getting mixed signals from the team. Yes, they brought you in for the reason but don’t expect that all are fully aligned. Board members may have conflicting interests, other exec mgmt team members may be in full or less support of you as a new CEO.*Listen to the pulse of the business and outline it for yourself. You may have already done this during the interview process and as a map for deciding to take on a position, You are in this role because you have relevant experience.* Identify top 3 key areas to look into first. Depending on the size of the company, maturity of the business, company stability you may not be able to and it may not make sense, to tackle all at the same time.* Develop a vision and goals for your role as a roadmap. Discuss on regular basis with your board and your team. Listen to their comments. Reiterate, if not sticking. Update, if warranted.*Get a coach. I just went through a company restructuring process as a new leader. When brought on board, the restructuring was not part of it but 6 months into the position it was clear the company needed a major overhaul to remain relevant and growing. Coach helped!

  24. riley mcdonough

    Leadership is always about character so show humility, empathy, a strong sense of purpose, and above all integrity.

  25. William Mougayar

    So many books have been written about being first time CEO, or being a new CEO at a company. Of course, some of it varies a bit depending on the size of the company. So, my generic advice:#1 don’t re-invent the wheel on being a CEO#2 read a couple of books, and take what you want from that. #3 become a learning sponge, and observe everything without judgement initially.New CEOs need to assert their leadership and get respect early on. But it’s not something you actually do. It is the earned outcome of other things you will be doing.(I wrote a long post 3 years ago, Startup Founder to CEO Transition Toolset: http://startupmanagement.or… )

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Broken link? Getting a 404.

      1. William Mougayar

        fixed. the ending parentheses got caught in the url. thanks for letting me know.

  26. Marissa_NYx

    First thing I would recommend is to acknowledge the history of the company . What it has done well and what it hasn’t and acknowledge the people: the good, bad or indifferent . It’s important to acknowledge that before moving forward. Second, any immediate rule changes need to be stated upfront : this is important to set the tone & culture of what the expectations are going forward. Third , then what your approach should be will depend on the state of the company : if you have a company in crisis needing a turnaround will require a very different approach (rollup your sleeves , pull in everyone into focus mode / sense of necessity ) compared to one which is in growth mode (work with incumbent teams on a plan to scale ) or humming along (here I would observe and figure out what works well and where the company should be headed ). Fourth, figure out who in the team you trust and let them know this . And figure out any antagonists and call them out .Fifth, a must is to visit customers. I would do this in the first week. The first 90 days are crucial : you set the tone, the pace , the target and you should focus on notching up early wins .

  27. Amerigo Contini

    Probably more than one or two pieces of advice but I would suggest reading “Principles” by Ray Dalio. It can be found on the Bridgewater website, extremely helpful management and life principles that can apply to any industry.

  28. Andy Schornack

    Obviously context of your hiring (growth, turnaround, etc…) creates a lot of how you enter the first 100 days in a new CEO role. – Listen to everyone, but don’t necessarily accept everyone’s viewpoint- Challenge yourself and your team- Be aware of your goals- Be aware of the motivating factors for your team- Don’t lock yourself up in the office. Get out and move around, see your company. Don’t plan everything as some of the most paradigm shifting viewpoints are from having real conversations resulting from unplanned activities or visits. – Lastly, have fun!

  29. Jeff Epstein

    Read “You’re in Charge, Now What” and “The First 90 Days”

  30. Jan Schultink

    Get your hands dirty deep in product design. You can’t “delegate product”.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      I agree, but apparently some people don’t.

  31. Tom Evslin

    1. take full charge immediately2. Review everything both to assure that you know the state of the company and the people and to establish a baseline.3. Share the baseline and any surprises (there will be some) with your board.4. Don’t blame your predecessor but don’t let his/her mistakes persist

    1. JLM

      .A CEO does not “receive” power; a CEO “takes” power.Until that happens, nothing else happens.This has always been true about leadership at any station in life.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Matt Zagaja

        It is tough to make decisions that people around you do not agree with.

        1. JLM

          .That is why the clarity of the decisionmaking process is so damn important. So people know they had their input and that it was…JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. leigh

        I don’t know. I was brought up with a respect people not authority model – great CEOs earn their positions on a daily basis

        1. JLM

          .There is absolutely nothing inconsistent with respecting people and a CEO taking power.This often manifests itself in a measure of servant leadership. The CEO takes power over the results to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. She becomes accountable to the team for the results.In the Army, officers in my units ate last and when I had a huge messhall if we ran out of food, I went hungry.Thereafter, I made damn sure that the men got enough food and the messhall knew I was going to be the last guy in the line.It was not about me, it was about ensuring that the men got enough to eat.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. fredwilson

      i love #4 Tom

      1. sigmaalgebra

        On #4, Obama didn’t get that one.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      3. It has occurred to me that Trump needs to do this with the country on about 2/1/2017.

  32. Alex Murphy

    5 Key Areas: Product, Customers, People, Vision, and Finances.1. Product: Use the product extensively, quickly, and become a “ninja level” user of the product. Know the roadmap. Understand the development or build cycle. Or in some cases, the evaluation and selection cycle. In an Internet business, you are the chief product officer, or chief product advocate. In a retail org, you are the GMM. etc. Knowing and understanding the problems of your customers and how to translate that into the solutions your company offers is the core building block to establishing a great vision and leading the company.2. Customers: Talk to the top 10 customers, one per day, in the first two weeks. Intro and ask what they think about the product. What do they like, what do they not care about, what do they want that isn’t there, and what made them buy initially. 3. People: Depending on size of company, meet with every employee, one on one. If too large, hold town hall meetings. Set up an anonymous ideas box, let the employees speak their mind about what they like, what they don’t like, what they think is missing.4. Vision: “Understand” the old vision, and recognize that as the new leader of the org it is now your job to recast the vision. Perhaps it will be the exact same, perhaps it will be somewhat different, and perhaps it will be radical. Timing for the recast is critical. Too early and you are presumptuous, too late and you are failing to lead. It will depend on your read of the situation, but you need to be aware that you have to recast the vision … otherwise you are not leading. Somewhere between 30 and 90 days into the job depending on the situation at hand. Longer for a much larger org. The goal here is to establish why the company exists, and then to take that down into every part of the org from new marketing, to new product, to new sales and distribution channels.5. Finances: If feasible, go through every single transaction from the last year to three years. If too large, go through every account in the Acctg system and spot pick a bunch that are direct input expenses. Solicit help from the Accounting team or an outside person to analyze the expenses. What is the company actually spending money on? Does it help, does it matter to the growth of the company, does it matter to employee moral. The goal is to know what the expenses are. Do the same on the revenue and invoice side. What are the products that the company actually sells and what doesn’t sell. How does this line up with what the sales people and marketing people believe about the offering? How does this line up with what the customers are saying.

  33. tobias peggs

    I agree with some earlier posters that context is key to the advice. how you deal with stepping in to lead a public company might be different from being dropped in as the “adult in the room” at a series b tech startup. Also, is this person a first time CEO, or an experienced hired gun? All these things matter.Nevertheless, here’s a txt msg stream i sent to a friend who recently stepped in as a first-time CEO of an early stage company that is finding its feet. Some of this applies to all the cases above:1 – Read “the hard thing about hard things” if you haven’t yet. Not because it’s actionable but because it talks about how fucking crazy being a CEO is. Better to know that in advance rather than find out halfway through your stint ha ha 🙂 2 – Then “communication to your troops” is vital. They will feel the swirl of leadership change 10x more than you do. And you can’t do anything without them. So clearly communicate what you plan to do – and do it – so they know what the eff is going on. Reduce that swirl! 3 – I often communicate what i’m doing the form of a 30/60/90 day plan. Just three columns with top level bullet points of shit that needs to get done in the next 90 days. 4 – By publishing that plan (to the troops) it removes the swirl. And you can talk after 30 days about progress against that plan etc etc – which gives a new CEO a natural beat of communications. (Eg outside of weekly all hands or whatever you guys do). 5 – And – this is really important – look after yourself. Eat well, exercise. You won’t sleep, but at least do the other two ;)note – as Aaron says elsewhere, it’s absolutely vital to be listening to your new team intently as you go about this. So, perhaps, in your 30/60/90 day plan, the 30 day objectives might simply be “have 1-on-1s with everyone of you and tell you what i’ve learned”. In certain situations, that might absolutely be the right thing to do. In others, you’ll want to spend a lot of time digging into numbers, or talking with users / customers. You might have to rework the strategy, or perhaps go deeper and redefine the mission! Every company is different, so every first 90 days is different. But whatever you need to do, put it on that 30/60/90 plan, publish it, stick to it and regularly talk about what you are learning along the way. Remove that swirl and get your people onside (and hopefully inspired!) through clear, consistent communication.Having said all that… i remember talking to one experienced CEO who told me about a new company he joined. He had wanted to “just listen” in the first 30 days… but after 3 *hours* he found so many things that were horribly wrong that he had to jump in and lead from the front immediately. So i guess the final bit of advice is: be prepared for shit to happen. A lot of it will :)Whoever the CEO is, good luck! And if you think i can help in any way, ping me.

  34. Jonny Biggins

    remember to embrace the journey

  35. JLM

    .This is Fred’s fault because he’s the one who got me blogging at The Musings of the Big Red Car.I was a CEO (public and private companies) for 33 years and before that an Army officer which is like being a CEO except the competition tries to kill you from time to time. At age 26, I had a grossly overstrength combat engineer company with 400+ soldiers. You learn quick.I just wrote this http://themusingsofthebigre…about how a new CEO takes over.It is right on target as to Fred’s question.Big takeaway — talk to someone who has done the damn job for a quarter of a century — 25 years — not someone who has done it for 25 months.Anyone, ANYONE, can be a good CEO (maybe not a great CEO but a good one) if they will just do the damn work. I have coached up CEOs who a year later make me laugh and shake my head they have become such business assassins.There are really no extraordinary people. There are ordinary people who rise to the challenge under extraordinary circumstances.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      How long does a typical coaching engagement last? (I know it depends so what are the “it depends” time frames that you are typically seeing?)

      1. JLM

        .Here are the specifics of my typical arrangement.http://themusingsofthebigre…All spelled out therein. Except for the discount.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. LE

          Very detailed writeup. I know that you do this (most likely) primarily because you enjoy it, and not for the money, but assuming the $250/hr rate which you charge VC’s is relative to the monthly referred by VC rate (which is higher than the non referred by VC rate) it’s way to low for the value that you are providing.Attorneys (who are a dime a dozen) don’t work $250 per hour and good ones obviously go easily for 4 to 5 times as much. Even taking into account the time fudge factor and your low overhead it’s quite frankly a bargain.No contracts, just a handshake — a monthly invoice and a check.Yep agree with that 100%. Nobody is getting legal over something like this, especially where reputation and referrals are involved. Might want to consider, if you don’t already, and considering the dollar amounts, accepting credit cards. It takes the hassle out of having to pester about unpaid invoices (which if you do enough business you will run into it’s only a matter of time and it doesn’t matter who referred you the business either). It’s aggravation that any consultant or business owner doesn’t need if they can avoid it.

          1. JLM

            .The VC work always leads to other assignments. Also angel investors. One angel on this blog has sent a goodly amount of business my way.I get some truly amazing calls many of which I call the “hospice” work wherein someone calls me before pulling the plug.Modesty (NDAs moreso) prevents me from telling a couple of those tales but there are some unbelievable ones wherein I have saved a VC’s investment in a deal.As to payment, I usually get a direct deposit into an account which my wife regularly loots. She encourages me to get more business.I do thoroughly enjoy my contact with CEOs. Most CEOs are quite extraordinary people. When I can assist them, I go to bed that night feeling content and useful.It may be difficult to believe but I enjoy the more difficult situations the most. When it is so truly screwed up, then I shine.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. LE

            NDA’s? Someone once asked me for something that sounded like that and I sent them back a picture of where I wrote their initials on a whiteboard as shown in the picture below. (Where I’ve blurred out 2 of their 3 initials for obvious reasons.)….

          3. JLM

            .I sign NDAs all the time. Never bothers me as I do not intend to ever talk about any convo I ever have with a CEO.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. LE

            I will not sign but I provide assurances by email in words that indicate essentially the same. Signing means legal language (not plain english and common sense) and just raises to many issues relative to the amount of money involved. Also requires review time and thought. Same reason no “formal” contracts (which you also said) with respect to payment. Of course contract does not have to mean formal contract (by attorney signed sealed) but can be something that means the same thing. If I ever needed dispute resolution I would simply let the person who referred me decide what was fair.Of course if your wife is spending the money and has access to the bank account then she knows what’s up!What’s fascinating about all of this is if someone came to you and got advice from you for free it would be odd for them to ask you to sign an NDA.That said you blog so perhaps the situation is a bit different.

          5. JLM

            .Pro tip: Include an expiration date in all NDAs.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          6. sigmaalgebra

            As to payment, I usually get a direct deposit into an account which my wife regularly loots.This is an important special case of the general principle of specialization and division of labor: In particular your job is to make the money, and her job is to spend it!In this case of specialization, what I usually observe is that the wife is MUCH better at her job than the husband is at his.Net, very much, to catch up with their wives, men need to up their game by many notches. This improvement is crucial, e.g., for the goal of gender equality.There is a special case when the man spends the money but on his wife, say, for matching ruby, sapphire, diamond, or combinations of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, or, ah heck, why not, it’s just money, a tiara. Or, to make it easier, just have him give her a credit card at each of Nieman-Marcus and Tiffany’s, that is, assuming she doesn’t already have those! I mean, she does, doesn’t she? You didn’t neglect THOSE did you? I mean, you actually like challenging, new emotional, legal, financial problems?And, men, remember, for the yacht, she actually doesn’t care at all about the dual 24V-71 two stroke, supercharged Diesel engines, the motor-generator, the IPS, the capacities of the various tanks, e.g., for fuel, drinking water, brown water, the radar, or the GPS. Instead, she cares about how good the state room looks and the catering!

    2. cavepainting

      Great choice of words! I think the opposite is true as well. People who have done extraordinary work in the past can get pulled back to be ordinary or even worse in negative circumstances.

      1. JLM

        .Yes, of course.The military is rife with stories of some guy who took charge of a situation under trying conditions, heroically won a battle, received a DSC (for some reasons it’s always a DSC — second to the MOH) and then turned into a hopeless drunk thereafter.I met several such men when I was in the Army.There are “horses for courses”.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Dave Pinsen

          On one occasion at least, the DSC later got upgraded to an MOH (Roy Benavidez).

    3. Brandon Burns

      “Talk to someone who has done the damn job for a quarter of a century — 25 years — not someone who has done it for 25 months.”This.

    4. mikenolan99

      Scott Wine, the transformative CEO of Polaris, told my MBA class he spent the first 90 days asking every key stakeholder, employee and manager the same few questions. He then presented his findings back to the board and the company. It brought everyone together, and formed the basis of the companies new direction.A few days later I emailed and asked him to repeat the questions – I was so impressed. He emailed me back, telling me he learned them from the CEO of Amgen – and attached the HBR article he read it in.…The questionsWhat three things do you want me to change?What three things do you want me to protect?What are you worried I might do?What do you want me to do?What else do you want to talk about?Oh – and he’s a Navy guy!

      1. JLM

        .Virtually identical to my Anonymous Company Survey…JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. PhilipSugar

        Those are great questions. Staying in Downtown MN Tues-Thur

    5. FlavioGomes

      JLM – Crisp, insightful, no nonsense damn good advice. I highly recommend his services.

  36. MikeBellafiore

    Determine the culture best for your company and you. Defend that culture with every decision.

  37. someone

    coincidentally I taught a class on this yesterday, with a guest speaker who has been the replacement CEO in five or six startups. among his suggestions:0. If at all possible–it may be too late for the person in Fred’s post–but in general “try before you buy” by working as a consultant to the company or in a non-CEO role to fully understand what you are getting into and build some level of trust/familiarity. This is especially important in seed-stage companies where there are no professional investors to force financial transparency.1. You are likely being brought in to do things the founder can’t or won’t do, probably including replacement of underperforming staff (incl. executives). Make those changes quickly, and the employees will think you are serious about improving things. Otherwise, the best may leave.2. At the same time, treat outgoing folks with dignity. Give more-generous-than-necessary severance packages, etc.3. As a newcomer, do the job of someone you fire for awhile, before you hire their replacement. 4. At a pre-revenue startup still in the product development phase, if the founders are technical there’s a good chance that you cannot afford to have them leave the company. Especially if the replacement was driven by investors, irreconcilable differences may develop. If you are beyond that phase, your life may be easier if the founders depart (again, with dignity). Of course, consider the founder’s personality type in this decision.5. Having the founder “step up” to the board-chair role is one way to help them save face, though it leaves open a backchannel for disgruntled employees, especially non-CEO cofounders and other early hires who are loyal to the replaced founder-CEO. Be sure to spend 1:1 time with those at highest risk of undermining you.

  38. jason wright

    try not to be an asshole/ arsehole/ arschlock

  39. Lee Blaylock

    – Make sure you have the right team- Make sure the board is aligned with the strategy you develop- Listen to your customers, both the ones you have and the ones you lost in the last 12 months- Study the data, be the data. Sleep with your financials/KPIs and internalize them. Look at them now and how they’ve changed over the past 12-36 months

  40. Sahil Patel

    So many things will compete for your attention.Go visit your clients. Meet them, shake hands, talk to end users, talk to whomever signs the invoice. Nothing, nothing else creates clarity like hearing your customers tell you what they like and don’t like. That’s your true north.And, do a few things well. It is tempting to try fix everything (even the things that don’t need fixing). Avoid it.

    1. fredwilson

      do a few things wellthat is good advice for everythinggreat comment

      1. PhilipSugar

        One of the best things I ever heard was from an HBS professor, Frances Frei. (hard for a Wharton guy)She said write everything down you want to do. Then rank it 1 to 5. You can’t average over a 3. So for every 5 you need a 1. If you write everything down as a 5 you will just be an exhausted 3. She had good examples like Southwest Airlines.

  41. pointsnfigures

    How big is the company? That makes a difference in the operation of taking charge. There are different challenges when you are taking over a small startup versus a different one.If I were her advisor, I’d tell her to concentrate on building trust. Part of that is actually engaging and listening-but a big part of that is also being in the trenches with the team. If you are going to tell everyone to jog a mile-you better be jogging with them.Also-learn the lingo of the company. Sometimes companies have their own lingo. For example, don’t go to the state of Indiana and call a “hoop” a basketball “ring”.Agree with @aaronklein:disqus that a reputable coach is a good idea if you can find one. I also think that you need to really engage with your board. The CEO is almost a broker between the company and the board. She develops her vision by being with the team, and builds trust. Then, she communicates that vision aggressively to the board so they aren’t blindsided and are ready to support when they are supposed to.An example of a great second/third CEO’s in the startup world is Dick Costelo. He took two companies to the finish line that I know of.

  42. Pramod Dikshith

    I have never been a CEO but I can speak to what I look upto for a new CEO. 1) Get to know the employees better from cross functional teams. 2) Understand the pain points to bridge the gap 3) Communicate Communicate Communicate to instill a sense of confidence that the new CEO is there to make the company better as well as makeemployes comfortable that they would get the support they need to excel

  43. Peter Szymanski

    I am long time follower + cite AVC at times (cc you); I hope this may be the start of also being more involved here.Two pieces of advice I received from a CEO I asked to mentor me when I took over as a turnaround CEO were:1. It’s the loneliest job in the world at times because there is no one who can really help you in the toughest moments so have someone close + impartial to echo back what you are saying — at least you can analyze yourself that way.2. Learn how to say ‘no’ without using the word + while saying yes to consensus and direction. There are so many distractions that your job is to respectively listen, analyze, then figure out whether it’s part of the focus. It’s easy to rub important supporters the wrong way if you don’t do it right.I found those very helpful + was very fortunate to have received the advice at the right time. Thank you very much for your posts; I am so glad to read them. They are very valuable for me.

    1. Brendan O'Gorman

      Completely agree with No1. – Now a days, it’s my wife, she doesn’t cut me much slack and is good at playing the devils advocate, she’s supportive but wants things to always work out best, so often has a good view of how to ‘keep it together’. In general I have found the women in my life to be a good mirror of truth, which can at times be difficult to face. As far as No2. goes; “I Don’t know” 😉

    2. fredwilson

      these are both great and truei love “saying no without using the word”that is really good advice

  44. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    Make sure your team is diverse and that you really listen to them as well as adeptly communicate your and their ideas. I interviewed Jimmy Treybig, founder/CEO of Tandem, years ago for the Rice Alumni magazine and here’s a like to that article:…. Page 29. He talks about team building, diversity, etc. In the 70’s he had the most women on his team, most African Americans, etc. and he grew his company to $2 billion.Start early with diversity and welcome/absorb the differences of thought & ideas. It may not be easy or result in a quick flip, but building companies of real value long term are the ones who tend to make real differences in this world by positively impacting individual person. Change starts within each of us.Also, find a trusted peer group of CEOs/leaders with different backgrounds. It can be lonely at the top.

  45. Jim Gibson

    Advice from my father: If you surround yourself with “pipsqueeks”, you are the Chief Pipsqueek; surround yourself with tigers, you are the Chief Tiger. Surround yourself with people smarter than you and lead with compassion, clarity and authority.

  46. bfeld

    I presume you know the three envelope fable. This question immediately makes me think of it and chuckle, since of course your friend’s behavior should be the inverse. But in the world of advice, I find a fable is often helpful to stimulate new thinking.If you don’t know it, it follows:A fellow had just been hired as the new CEO of a large high tech corporation. The CEO who was stepping down met with him privately and presented him with three numbered envelopes. “Open these if you run up against a problem you don’t think you can solve,” he said.Well, things went along pretty smoothly, but six months later, sales took a downturn and he was really catching a lot of heat. About at his wit’s end, he remembered the envelopes. He went to his drawer and took out the first envelope. The message read, “Blame your predecessor.”The new CEO called a press conference and tactfully laid the blame at the feet of the previous CEO. Satisfied with his comments, the press — and Wall Street – responded positively, sales began to pick up and the problem was soon behind him.About a year later, the company was again experiencing a slight dip in sales, combined with serious product problems. Having learned from his previous experience, the CEO quickly opened the second envelope. The message read, “Reorganize.” This he did, and the company quickly rebounded.After several consecutive profitable quarters, the company once again fell on difficult times. The CEO went to his office, closed the door and opened the third envelope.The message said, “Prepare three envelopes.”

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve heard that one told about the VP Sales

    2. Vasudev Ram

      Good one, read it somewhere.Not directly related, but “The Greatest Salesman in the World” is a good read too. Not at all one what one might think it is about, going by the book title.

      1. Tommaso Trionfi

        it was in a movie with Michael Douglas, and he was dealing with the Colombia drug cartel. Michael was appointed in a government agency (and his daughter was also doing drugs)

        1. Vasudev Ram

          Interesting, thanks.

  47. Daniel Clough

    Not a CEO, but I would keep this in mind: Learn and help out before making changes –

  48. Mark Gavagan

    Spend one-on-one time with as many people connected with the organization as possible, including customers and customer service. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully…

  49. Erin

    Know yourself.

  50. mattb2518

    This will amplify a few things from a few other comments, but:(1) spend 90 days learning and listening and (size permitting) do a 1:1 with every single employee to ask what’s working, what’s not, why they joined, why they stay, what they love.(2) if the prior CEO is still around (founder moving to a product role or Board role, for example), insist that for that up to a full 90 day period, you have only one direct report — the prior CEO — and that person still maintain all the other direct reports so you can focus on learning and listening and not getting bogged down in administrative stuff too early on like approvals, signing checks, reviews, etc.(3) put in place your key support mechanisms – coach, assistant, CEO peer forum.(4) build relationships with Board members and a couple key partners/clients/vendors.(5) understand your new company’s governance, cap table, balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow dynamics backwards and forwards.(6) start developing your theory of the universe!

    1. fredwilson

      lots of good stuff in here Mattthe support mechanisms are critical but not every CEO prioritizes them

  51. Brendan O'Gorman

    Be persistently decisive, but not hard headed or stubborn, be inviting, welcoming and grateful for better ideas, but absent of any (actually better ideas) keep pulling the trigger. Reminding of my favorite statement from “The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ is “There are no silver bullets, just a lot of lead ones”.

  52. Sebastian Garcia Padin

    To Be kindly, objective, good person.Be flexible, strong, and adaptive as water.Think your job it is to be the first employee ready to help others employees.

  53. Roger Anderson

    #1 – Reduce fear#2 – Hire A’s not B”s (CEO of Nestle USA taught me this on my first CEO gig. B’s only worry about getting fired not excelling)#3 – Join a CEO Roundtable, group, or start one. It is a lonely job.#4 – Meet as many people as you can in the company and understand what they want out of the time they are with the company. Lifers are mostly B’s.#5 – Don’t fire, transition people to another company if they do not fit in (or jail if they are criminals).

    1. JLM

      .Haha, jail? Funny.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Going to disagree with #4. Plenty of Fortune 500 companies have promoted lifers to CEO (Jeff Immelt, Ursula Burns, Rex Tillerson etc.). I’ve done a ton of jumping around and its fun until it gets old. For better or worse there is a lot of crap out there in the world and I think for most people, once you find a good place to land, it is worth holding on (unless your ship hits an iceberg in which case proceed to the nearest lifeboat).

    3. sigmaalgebra

      > B’s only worry about getting fired not excelling)> Lifers are mostly B’s.I don’t think that that can work.Most employees are trying to support a family with spouse, children, house, home, financial security, emotional security, through paying off the house mortgage, getting the kids through school, providing for retirement, etc. and, thus, need to be “lifers”.”Excelling” typically creates enemies inside the company and, thus, is darned risky. So, “lifers” will be reluctant, even foolish, to “excel”.So, want A’s. Okay. But they are not “lifers” and, then, are likely not a responsible providers for their families. Basically they have no business being employees for long, for you or anyone else, and, instead, need to own their own business, “excel” there where they don’t have to make enemies except the competition, can hold on to the business and/or its fortune for life, and, with irony, be an A, excel, be a responsible provider, and a “lifer”.If you are going to tell your employees you don’t want “lifers”, then the responsible ones will be concluding that they should another job where they can be a lifer or just start their own business. Essentially you are asking for something that just can’t exist — every responsible worker an owner of their own business, that is, no responsible employees. Or, you are asking for a country awash in irresponsible employees, and they are not As either.

  54. Mike Geer (MG)

    This will sound Machiavellian, but one of my biggest regrets when looking back after taking over a company, was not cleaning house of the worn out and disgruntled people. Many times when a new CEO/COO is coming in, it is because some things are not presently working. I have found that this is partly made up of people being blockers to proper function. Do it early and get on with the important work of building the business.It has always been hard for me as I also am a big believer that anyone can be motivated and mentored into being a great contributor. Sometimes I just need to swallow my pride and admit that I may not be capable of being that mentor that rehabilitates this particular team member.

    1. PhilipSugar

      That is a really good point. I have never believed I could change somebody so I don’t carry your guilt.Part of finding and keeping the best people is getting rid of those disgruntled people. Every organization that isn’t doing well is full of those people. Its both cause and effect, but I have found you really can’t change them. I’ve tried, its never worked. You can spot them a mile away. I remember a guy Dale, that was just so full of negativity and cynicism. I really tried but finally in a meeting where he had to make a snide comment about every single thing said I asked him if somehow I had an insult about him printed on the back of my shirt. I fired him and walked him out of the office that day.He was stunned. People thanked me. I never let people talk badly about those who left (the same as you can’t talk badly about somebody that is here without them present)

  55. Yulian Fedulov

    1) Be a chief question officer, not a chief decision officer2) Figure out if you have the right team quickly

  56. PhilipSugar

    I’m going to reiterate much of what has been said, but I am going to riff on it a bit. This advice is for companies with employees in the hundreds. If you’re huge disregard my advice.You’re first objective should be to listen. Listen to employees, customers, vendors. Realize that all will have their agenda’s, so when the person you are listening to wants you to commit to an action, you need to deflect, because you now know somebody with an agenda. It could be right it could be wrong but you don’t know. Seek out those that don’t want your attention, they probably have the best perspective.Now that you have listened you need to set YOUR agenda. You need to make it actionable and measurable.. You need to set it up so you get a quick win, with a series of wins after that.If you are going to make changes do them in one fell swoop. Don’t do them in dribs or drabs.Then get two work doing the five things CEO’s do.Find and keep the best peopleOrchestrate between departmentsSet up a commitment system Talk to customers, prospects, and employeesSet strategy which is most importantly what you don’t do.

  57. Salt Shaker

    Never been a CEO and have no desire to become one. All consuming. That said, temper preconceived notions about what’s right or wrong until you do your own due diligence. Others may influence, and they should if respected, but draw your own conclusions.

  58. Ken Cowan

    You have 1 quarter to figure out who in the business shouldn’t be there. After that, they’re your people.

  59. lostdiaspora

    I guess a lot depends on who hired you and why so lets take the 2 polar extremes and you can interpolate between them.1. Companys in trouble. This is crisis mode and there isn’t much you can really do that hasn’t been covered already in previous posts but its essentially about surrounding yourself with a team, internal, external or a mix is a situational and expediency call, you can trust to execute whichever remedial plan looks appropriate and most likely to succeed in the time frames that the people who hired you have.2. Company’s fine but the previous CEO has quit, retired, been promoted or downsized their job. This is the more interesting situation both because you’re not playing fireman and the clock isn’t running so hard. I think the first thing you really need to look at is the organisational structure and ask whether it’s fit for purpose for whatever’s coming down the turnpike. The things to look out for are:a) Too much rigidity and a lack of flexibility, b) Not enough engagement of staff, remember the front line guys are the guys actually doing the job of satisfying customers, everyone else is a filter with an agendac) The proportion of your costs which are directly related to customers and those that are not, e.g. ⅔ direct customer related costs ⅓ overhead might suggest the start of organisational bloat but that needs to be looked at situationally, matching industry averages should be an alarm calld) stalling of innovation If this is the case then you need to figure out a new org structure, probably flatter with more devolution to the front line or the next crisis may kill the companyOtherwise you’ve got a cushy number!

  60. Richard

    Bring some energy to your earnings calls, make sure you look like and sound like the CEO during earnings calls, don’t read from your notes during your earnings call (use a teleprinter if necessary).

  61. Bob Gilbreath

    Couple of thoughts:- You need an executive team that is high performing. Read the Five Dysfunctions of a team, a “fable” that is all about a new CEO coming into a high-growth tech startup…- Respect is earned, not given. So go earn it by meeting with as many people as possible, sharing what you believe, listen to their input, and don’t make strategic decisions or set direction until you’ve done enough listening and thinking.

  62. Tom Deierlein

    People want to knowWho are you?What do you stand for and believe in?Where do you want to take us?Why you?What qualifies you for this jobWhat makes you think you can do this?What changes are you planning to make?SOURCEChapter 11, A Leader’s Legacy. Kouzes & PosnerThese responses are the top choices made by employees regarding their leaders (new or current)

  63. Tom Deierlein

    Give some real thought to providing team your Approach to Leadership (Personal Leadership Philosophy)Personal Leadership Philosophy is nothing more than a written statement that is developed to help you communicate to your team how they will perform.Personal Values – what you believe in; such as honesty, commitment, respect for others.How You Will Work – description of how you will carry out your responsibilities.Expectations – what you expect of others and what they can expect of you.Non-negotiables – what you will demand and what you will not tolerate.Priorities – what’s important, and in what order.Personal Idiosyncrasies – your peculiar likes or “pet peeves”Commitment – your willingness for feedback…

  64. Mohamed Khalil

    Learn the culture. What makes the engine run and how it does so. Until you know the culture and the levers you can pull to influence it change will not succeed. A lesson well taught in the HBR case on Home Depot and Bob Nardelli

    1. JLM

      .Not just “learn the culture”, test the culture — something very few people know how to do.http://themusingsofthebigre…JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  65. JLM

    .I am waiting on someone, so I am wasting time.Two things that have always served me well in 33 years of CEOing.1. When you meet someone for the first time, always call them “sir” or “ma’am” regardless of your station in life. Doormen. Delivery men.”Thank you, sir.”People who are watching will remember this forever. It may be a Southern or Texas thing. People will remember this for decades.2. “Punctuality is the courtesy of kings.”Kings have nothing left to give so being punctual is a mark of respect. I hate being around people who are chronically late. It is also a free insight into their character.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. PhilipSugar

      You know I used to be late when I first became a CEO 20 years ago. But then somebody who I really respected told me: you really just don’t care about or value my time.That really stung.I am now am almost always at least a minute early. It really isn’t harder than being late.

      1. LE

        For phone calls I have gotten into a habit of not setting appointment times. I set an approximate time range and tell the person I will text them and if they are around and available at that time I will then call them from a landline (removing at least 1 cell phone often improves things). I hate setting aside a time and finding out the person isn’t there and then I am in limbo until they answer or are available (especially with the way some people tend to load of schedules with meetings all of the time).

    2. LE

      “Thank you, sir.”This may be a regional thing as you allude. Where I am, when someone says that it feels strange.The other thing that was odd was cold callers starting out a conversation with some happy talk asking you “so how you doing?”. When that used to come in back in the day I always knew it was a cold call. Someone trying to sell me something. What’s funny is now on the Internet (since ’96) dealing with people all over the country (and the world) I find that customers do the same (which took some getting used to).

    3. Lawrence Brass

      I am not a King, Sir. But I am a man of my word.

      1. JLM

        .You are, however, a Prince, sir.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  66. Ana Milicevic

    Wow – this will be a classic thread!#1 – Overcommunicate: all-hands, video town hall, whatever works for the company but when you’re coming in try to carve out 30 mins each/every other week. CEO transitions are a stressful time for companies and the worst thing you can do is hole up in your office with a select small team. Be open with your people and understand that part of your job in the first 100 days is to make them feel the company is in excellent hands.#2 – Interact across the org: it’s tempting to stay in the confines of the board & sr management team but you should make it a point to interact with as many people across the org as you can and build your filters. When you start hearing similar concerns from different functional teams/business units you’re on the right track to better understand your org.#3 – Act quickly and decisively: even if it’s a minor decision (something as trivial as announcing a Summer Friday or promotion/appointment of team member that was agreed upon as condition of your acceptance) it works wonders to demonstrate that you have both hands firmly on the wheel. Ties to #1 and communication/openness, but I’ve also seen many incoming folks (especially incoming in troubled cos) cool their heels for weeks vs. demonstrating action mode right away.

  67. Tommaso Trionfi

    if it is an established company:Talk to everyone in the company and ask simply what are we doing right and what are we doing wrong. What else can we do? and VERY important what should we stop doing?You will be surprised how much a company (as the sum of the individual contributors) knows exactly what needs to be done and stopped. Just listen to it, it is all there.While you meet your people, identify the individuals that will not be part of the journey, for whatever reason, too much baggage, wrong attitude, not in the right position, etc. Move quickly. on the latter, you must also identify if all the executives are well respected, move fast to remove the wrong leaders.Get a coach to openly discuss the above. If you have a doubt about someone that doubt will always turn out to be accurate. No hesitation,Good luck!

  68. Jay Fulcher

    1. Resist the temptation to jump to conclusions too quickly before having collected ample and broad evidence and data; 2.) be clear and specific around the motivations and intent behind your hire, and build a reputation for listening and understanding ASAP; 3.) Culture (“how we do things here”) trumps strategy, so be careful to honor and meld the existing culture with the needed adaptations for success; and 4.) if founders are involved, it is essential to have their buy-in well before you begin and enlist them in the journey.

  69. Mrinal

    FWIW, it is all about people so the single most important aspect is alignment … alignment of goals. Once question to ask everyone onboard is ‘Why Are you Here’ to listen, learn and compare with his own answer for that question.

  70. sigmaalgebra

    JLM. Done!

  71. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    I wrote a comment a couple of hours ago, but it looks like it didn’t post. To sum up please read this article I co-wrote some years ago on Jimmy Treybig, founder/CEO of Tandem. He outlines many traits of great leaders, CEOs, and successful teams:… on p. 29.Make sure your team is diverse from the start. Make sure you listen to them. Don’t be afraid of the time investment to understand people who don’t think, look, act, or speak like you. This holds true no matter your gender as a CEO. Jimmy had one of the most diverse teams in the 70’s when he started Tandem. He was in it for the long haul and not a quick flip. He was thinking big from the beginning.Find a diverse peer group of CEOs/leaders you can trust to bounce ideas of confidentially. It can be lonely at the top.

  72. iggyfanlo

    LISTEN… to the customers; LISTEN … to the employees; LISTEN…. to the Board; LISTEN… to your partners; LISTEN… to the other stakeholders; LISTEN.

  73. Thomas Luk

    As a CEO you will change the direction of your organization directly by criticizing and complimenting….Do the later more often than the other, it will payout in the long run.

  74. bob

    they should read one of the George Bradt books on a “new leaders 100 day plan” and similar titles. Gives a great outline of how to attack from the weekbefore you arrive, find out where the bodies are buried, identify challenges/opportunities. Very goood work, fast read….

  75. cavepainting

    1. Be humble enough to know that you may not be the smartest person in the room. You are a catalyst to bring people together, figure out the right things to do and help do each of them right.2. Meet as many customers and prospects as possible to understand their pain-points, their perception of value and how these needs may be evolving. Direct knowledge of the marketplace will help you get grounded in reality from the very start.3. Watch cash flow like a hawk and get comfortable with all the numbers. If the company is early stage, try to understand what may be the milestones for product-market fit and track progress diligently.4. Observe and test the current culture and norms related to how work gets done and how people work with each other. A CEO change is a time of uncertainty so ensure that you help people feel safe to express their honest thoughts on the business.

  76. Michael Blend

    Physically sit with every key team for a couple weeks. You get to know the people and more importantly you get the real unfiltered scoop on the problems and issues

  77. Chimpwithcans

    Don’t be the same as the old boss

  78. Leslie L. Kossoff

    Three things:1. Be objective about yourself. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Know where you’ve nailed it in the past and where, why and how, you missed an opportunity for you and everyone else to succeed and thrive. Be clear about what you envision – then build on everything the organization does well toward those goals and be clean, clear and strong in taking action to fix what needs to be fixed.2. Remember that there’s a reason you were selected and that the selectors saw something in you that they didn’t see in your competition. Build on that. It’s what the people who know the organization far longer than you recognize as key to creating the organization’s future that they envision…with you taking the lead.3. Read Ben Horowitz’ book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things.” It’s the best CEO text I’ve ever read…and I think I’ve read them all!Bon chance et bon courage!

  79. Joe Marchese

    Listen. Pay attention to the hard stuff (Management System) AND the soft stuff (Management Practice). Always act with courage.

  80. TeddyBeingTeddy

    Buy people lunches, and remember their names.

  81. Andu @

    1. Delegate stuff.2. Focus on the top 5 things that generate revenue.3. Hire and fire quickly.

  82. Spencer Rascoff

    One of my shortest but most useful blog posts ever was on this exact topic. the role of a great CEO is to identify, recruit, retain and motivate great people.

  83. Larry Putterman

    You need to listen and walk around for the first 90 days. Ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers before making any major decisions. You need a coach or a trusted advisor to review and confide in,

  84. rob klapper

    I have run 3 companies (and had the great fortune to be on a USV portco. Board). I’ve learned a lot from each company I’ve led. Here are 3 things I would recommend to a new CEO:1. Go in w/a “60 or 90 day plan” on what you want to accomplish, but know that much of the plan will change as you learn about the company/people. Having this plan will help you figure out where to focus, who to spend time with, and key hypotheses to validate (or not…).2. LISTEN. A key part of the plan will undoubtedly be meeting with employees and listening to their perspectives and ideas. With this, it is essential that you meet with all levels in the org. and among the first set of meetings should be with ‘frontline’ employees.3. Gain alignment with investors/board. Be sure to understand their expectations and have an open line of communication with them. In each of my roles I asked each Board member the same 5 q’s within the first month to understand their perspective and sent updates every two weeks about what I was learning and key q’s I am trying to understand. This keeps everyone up-to-speed and also useful to get input.PS – know that everything you do is being watched!

  85. Vikas Kiran

    CEO should set a clear Vision, Mission and Values for the company. CEO should enable cultural change that empowers the employees. CEO should clarify the purpose and mission that will enable employees to imagine impossible and deliver it. Paraphrasing Oscar Wilde’s quote – We should believe in impossible and remove improbable.

    1. Vikas Kiran

      Also, continously improve processes and build the trust of employees and customers

  86. howardlindzon

    Don’t drink for at least a year

  87. feedly

    Design like you are right, listen like you are wrong.Think about the impact of your actions/decisions through 3 different perspectives: you, your customers, your team.Do not defer hard decisions.

  88. MAB

    Guarantee you have the right people on the bus and on the right seats!!!

  89. GL Hoffman

    A couple of years ago I wrote a book of 100 Startup tips. I am happy to send a pdf to anyone who requests it.

  90. David Mayer

    From day one invest in your own health. Time management will be challenging. Get a Tier IV Trainer at Equinox 3 to 5 times a week. You’ll need the help managing the exercise part of your life, because so many other new things will be added to your to do-list. If you don’t invest in your health you may not be strong enough to execute all the other pieces of advice outlined below 🙂

  91. Ethan Stillman

    Learn the history. Understand why they are where they are today, and who got them there and how.

  92. knope

    dont be a dick

  93. Nicholas Kind

    Write down your first impressions – about what’s positive, curious, distinctive, what needs to change – during your first few weeks. After that you lose distance. Then you can cross-check against them later. Of course first impressions can often be wrong, but they act as a useful point of reference.

  94. desmondpieri

    ONE: Studies have shown that the traits which correlate well with CEO success include:-Emotional stability-Conscientiousness-Being dependable-Making plans, and following through on those plans.TWO: The founding CEO of Crate & Barrel had this advice:-Stay Humble-Stay nervous-Don’t believe your own press.

  95. Frédéric Rudondy

    It’s hard to give one or two pieces of advice not knowing the actual context.Context, not size or market: why does the company need a new CEO?You don’t take the same actions if you’re running out of cash or if you need to drive growth.However, usually when a new CEO comes in from outside, it’s more about implementing change than incremental steps.1) Understand the actual DNA of the company (and there is no 100$ test for that). That’s why you need to start with active listening of every stakeholders (at least as many as you can) as mentioned by @mattblumberg:disqus DNA: history-what the company went through, actual values (not on the wall), what’s really driving the company (finance, marketing, operations, etc), cash-products-information flows, reporting tools. Map it and share it with your coach.2) Understand the leadership team, the governance, Find leaders with complementary strengths to yours. Take action if needed.3) Build your vision, dream big and share it. Don’t forget the actual short term goals to go there, where to start.4) Change the reporting system and KPI’s!!Measure the same way, you’ll get the same results. Of course, you can better execute and improve by few %. You’ll never turn the company around…

  96. Peter Van Dijck

    Best thread ever.I would advise (with the little experience I have): spend the first 4 weeks only talking to people, and making notes. Listening. Don’t do anything. And tell people that that’s your plan.When you talk to them, say, “I’m here to help, tell me what you need for things to be better”.Make notes. Then share what you’ve learned, what you’ll do and why.

  97. William Edward Fisher

    You are now a CEO and you have a board and a management team. If you run the company the way the board thinks it should be done and it doesn’t work, they will fire you.If you run the company the way your management team thinks it should be done and it doesn’t work, they will fire you. If you run the company the way you think it should be done and it doesn’t work, they will fire you. However, and this is key……you can’t be effective by doing your job the way others think you should do it. It won’t work; you have no foundation to make decisions based on trying to figure out what others will think. Take all the input from everyone on your team and the board; however, you decide.

  98. Daniel Pardes

    On vacation and finally catching up on reading :-). In case anyone is still listening on this thread…My company, SYPartners, has done a good deal of thinking on this and even created a few little books for friends assuming new C-level roles. Here’s a little bit of it….

  99. muratcannoyan

    I was thinking of a way to say that you should do your best to let people get to know you at all levels but you said it better.

  100. LE

    Well who am I to judge how a man spends his money but to me that seems like a major Oprah moment and I really question the negative aspects of giving such a large windfall like that to people who are in many cases living hand to mouth and paycheck to paycheck. (The lottery effect let’s call it). Might have been better to setup a system whereby there is some constraint on how or how quickly they can spend that money. My point is (and keep in mind it’s his right to do what he wants) it might be better to design something that has all of the positive aspects and less of the negative aspects of what is essentially this type of entirely unexpected gift. [1][1] Not to mention that some will sell their shares and some will hold them and if the stock drops there will be issues right there created.

  101. fredwilson

    Don’t spend time on blogs!!!

  102. JLM

    .Culture is testable like anything else in business. You have to have a process. Here is one that I have seen work and I have made work personally.http://themusingsofthebigre…Also look at The Company Culture Serieshttp://themusingsofthebigre…This is pretty easy stuff.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  103. Girish Mehta

    Why is that ?

  104. LE

    amazing how obvious that gets the bigger we doI can haz translation?