Bad hire? Blame the CEO

How much does a bad hire cost companies? It’s more than just money according to this infographic by Mindflash. Hiring the wrong person also causes lost time, productivity, and morale. The infographic also provides some suggestions for improving the hiring process. While these are important, one of the keys to hiring great people is to have a great recruiting process. This starts with the CEO, who in my mind should serve as the Chief Recruiting Officer.

CEOs should own recruiting and treat it as a core piece of the company’s strategic plan, not a tactical fire drill. Hiring right doesn’t mean taking your time, however. If your process is set up correctly, you should be able to hire someone within two weeks – that’s resume in hand to offer letter. Superstars won’t wait around for a company that drags its feet.

Also see a slide show version of this infographic at


What’s missing from the Mozilla CEO debacle commentary

I have read numerous posts and comments related to the “resignation” of the Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich. I feel compelled to comment on the situation as it raises an interesting issue that most of the commentators have not addressed: The relationship of a CEO to his employees.

Setting aside CEO egos can make 1 + 1 = 3

I have spent much of my career running businesses in the startup phase of their lives. In my mind, the startup phase continues until you are confident that the business can survive any normal risk scenario. The definition of normal risk could be debated, but most CEOs know the feeling when they make the transition […]


The tenuousness of CEO tenure

Recent research on U.S. CEO tenure varies anywhere from 5 to 8 years, but one thing is certain: CEOs have less time than ever to prove their merit. Part of the reason is market dynamism and the rapid changes taking place in businesses today. A CEO who was a perfect fit when he was hired […]

Software startup’s aim is to teach CEOs how to be CEOs

Austin American-Statesman article about Khorus

Thanks to Lori Hawkins of the Austin American-Statesman for writing this article about Khorus and our business management system for CEOs. Thanks also to our customer Scott Tynes, CEO of Consero Global, for interviewing with Lori for the piece and outlining his reasons for choosing Khorus. He sees it not just as a management system for himself as CEO, but also as a tool for fostering teamwork among his distributed employee base of 250. Check it out!

GM CEO Mary Barra Demonstrates Mastery of the Three Cs

Earlier this week I spoke to Entrepreneur writer Geoff Weiss for an article about how GM CEO Mary Barra is handling their vehicle recalls. I believe that so far she has shown mastery of the most powerful tools CEOs have to achieve top performance: credibility, competence, and caring (I call them the three Cs). As […]

How to avoid being a weak executive

Striking a Balance Between Yes Man and Doubting Thomas

In my latest article for Entrepreneur Magazine, I discuss what CEOs are looking for in their executives and how to avoid being a weak one.

CEO Class Starts April 4

Starting April 4, I am teaching my CEO class again in conjunction with the Rice Alliance Austin Chapter and the Austin Technology Council. The class is designed for CEOs with more than 20 employees who are seeking ways to grow via the right tools, people and processes.

Five management lessons from Ben Horowitz

Originally posted on Fortune Tech: Technology blogs, news and analysis from Fortune Magazine:
The venture capitalist offers advice in his new book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. FORTUNE — In his new book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No…

DILBERT tackles goals management

DILBERT © 2007 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved. DILBERT © 2007 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

I thought this DILBERT cartoon was appropriate to share after the launch of my new company Khorus a few weeks ago.

Photo Credit: lumaxart via Compfight cc

Sales should not be the only focus of an ops meeting

Why do so many people think the sole purpose of an operations meeting is to discuss the sales forecast? Focus on every part of the business and require forward-looking data from all.

Photo Credit: Marco Bellucci via Compfight cc

What’s the one question every CEO needs to answer?

Ironically, it’s one question that vexes CEOs, because they cannot get the information they need to answer it.

exit strategy

Answering the “Exit Strategy” Question

Originally posted on Shockwave Innovations:
You’ve just completed a great investor pitch with heads nodding and good interaction.  You’re about to ask “Does this opportunity interest you enough to explore an investment?” when instead you get a final question: “One final question.  What is your exit strategy?”.  Oops, the last two times you got this question…

CEOs need a system

We officially launched my new company Khorus today. The software product is a business management system for CEOs to answer the one question that concerns every chief executive: “How likely is my company to meet its corporate goals?” 

Will an aluminum Ford F-150 make Alan Mulally the CEO of the decade?

Commercialization: Aluminum Body on Ford’s F150

2015 Ford F-150 Reveal 2015 Ford F-150 Reveal; Photo Credit: Ford

I follow the new car and truck market quite closely. It is a very competitive worldwide market that must balance form and function. I have been a big fan of the work that Alan Mulally has done at Ford, but this latest move is a whole other level. Switching from steel to aluminum for a vehicle that is not only your best seller but also the best-selling vehicle in America is a huge gamble. It is the type of move that companies don’t usually make unless they feel they are on death’s door and have no other option. The “safe” play from one perspective would be to stay with steel, and if you wanted to try aluminum do it in a low-volume, higher-end model. The fact that Mulally could make this move shows a leader who has the confidence of his team and is providing real leadership. My guess is that it will be a homerun for Ford and in my mind cement Mulally as CEO of the decade.

Why CEOs have power but lack influence just published an article I wrote titled “How Leaders Can Find Their Mojo.” Whether they admit it or not, many chief executives feel powerless in their organizations. Oh sure, they have power: They can hire and fire, acquire companies, reorganize whole divisions, change the company strategy, etc. But once an organization gets beyond 20 […]

How to set corporate goals in 2014

I’ve done a couple of Webinars recently to show CEOs and other executives how to set goals for their organizations. This is one of the keys to success in any company. The bigger your organization gets, the more disconnected your employees will become from the big picture strategy if you don’t do something formally to […]

Employee engagement counts

OfficeVibe has created this infographic about employee engagement based on a bunch of stats that support what I’ve been saying on this blog for awhile: Employee engagement is low in general across U.S. companies, money is not a chief motivator if you pay market value, people leave bosses not companies, engaged employees perform better, etc. For CEOs, ensuring that your employees are engaged should be one of your top priorities. One way to do this is to own the vision and make sure that everyone in the company – from entry level to executives – understands the corporate goals and how their day-to-day activities contribute to those goals.

10 Shocking Stats About Employee EngagementInfographic crafted by Officevibe, the corporate team building and employee engagement platform.

The three roles of private company boards

In my last post, I wrote about some red flags when choosing board members for early stage companies. Understanding the function of private company boards will help CEOs select the right members as well as help those board members to offer the right value. Here are the three roles that I think board members serve […]

Why Fruit Salad Management Is Rotten For CEOs

fruit salad dashboard ©Khorus 2013

My latest Forbes post focuses on this graphic we created at my company Khorus to show how CEOs are bombarded with mostly tactical, outdated metrics from department silos. The result is a fruit salad mess that chief executives cannot make sense of or use to move the business forward. In the full piece I give some advice about how CEOs, who are usually to blame, can remedy this. Check it out here:

Why do so many companies want to fire their CEO? – CBS News

Why do so many companies want to fire their CEO? – CBS News

This is a great article written by Margaret Heffernan for CBS Moneywatch. She discusses how CEOs are not prepared for the role and therefore don’t know what to do when they achieve it (my mantra for this blog). As I’ve written about before, most CEOs have gotten the job because they were superstar performers in their careers, meaning they have specialized knowledge in marketing, sales, engineering or another function. But the CEO role entails a unique set of responsibilities. As Heffernan says, “But once they assume senior executive positions, they need entirely different skills: networking, knowledge-gathering, consensus building, listening. They should be good at this – so why aren’t they?”


BridgingApps Wins $700,000 Verizon Powerful Answers Prize

Thanks to “The million dollar hire” I wrote about late last year, BridgingApps has won the $700,000 prize in the Verizon Powerful Answers Awards education category, which was just announced at CES! This is an outstanding achievement that will further this great organization’s mission to bridge the gap between technology and people with disabilities. A […]

CEO Fail: The “My Favorite Child” CEO

I have always tried to build relationships with CEOs of other companies to learn as much as possible from their experience. In my early days of being a CEO, I would go to many events around Austin to hear speakers and network with other chief executives. I often saw one CEO at these events who […]

Top 10 posts of 2013

In case you missed them, here are my most-viewed blog posts of 2013:

  1. Support oddballs in your company culture
  2. Texas vs. California: Texas Wins
  3. CEOs: Employee engagement matters
  4. How executives hire: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on finding motivated employees
  5. The million dollar hire
  6. 5 Responsibilities of a CEO: Own the Vision
  7. When do you hire for job experience vs. raw talent?
  8. 10 Steps to a Nine Figure+ Exit
  9. The No Asshole Policy and Company Culture
  10. 5 Responsibilities of a CEO: Make Good Decisions
The Art of Action by Stephen Bungay has lessons for CEOs

My top CEO book of the year: “The Art of Action”

Happy New Year to all! In the midst of people sharing their best business books of 2013, I wanted call out one I read this year that I think should be on every CEO’s reading list: “The Art of Action” by Stephen Bungay. The book was published in 2011, but I don’t think it got […]

How CEOs can set effective 2014 goals

I’ll be hosting a live Webinar this Friday at 1:00 p.m. EST for ExecSense onBest Practices for Establishing 2014 Goals for Your Management Team.” The content is tailored to CEOs who want to start the year off right by setting corporate goals that drive company priorities, adapt to changing business conditions, and engage employees. The Webinar will be available to ExecSense subscribers on demand after Friday. Check it out and join me! I will continue to make effectively setting and tracking goals a focus of this blog throughout the year.

No CEO for Obamacare a bad idea

White House Rejects Idea Of Creating An Obamacare CEO

The idea of a CEO for Obamacare is so obvious that it is hard to believe there could be any disagreement. The Affordable Care Act is a huge endeavor that would test even the best CEO. The resistance from the administration as outlined in this Business Insider article reminds me of a startup CEO who won’t give up any control to his team. When this happens in a 50-person startup, it often causes serious issues that threaten the viability of the company. When it happens in an entity the size of the federal government, it is a recipe for disaster.

Doing Less, Leading More

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network – Harvard Business Review:
Our first accomplishments as professionals are usually rooted in our skill as individual contributors. In most fields we add value in the early stages of our careers by getting things done. We’re fast, we’re efficient, and we do high-quality work. In a word, we’re doers.…

Photo Credit: Skley via Compfight cc

Why CEOs Should Cultivate Paranoid Optimism

One of the interesting things about the CEO job is that almost every employee has a strong opinion about the CEO’s performance. They may not be able to tell you much about the VP of Sales or Marketing unless they work in that group, but everyone has an opinion about their leaders. This is because […]

The Drawbacks of a Nation of First-time CEOs

How many CEOs are first-time CEOs? I think it’s the majority (we found as high as 73%), and that’s a real problem. This is the subject of my newest article for Forbes: Why Virgin CEOs Are At A Distinct Competitive Disadvantage Bottom line: Most new CEOs do not have the preparation or the management systems to […]

Of course presidents lie?

I don’t agree with the pretext of this CNN article that “of course all presidents lie” and that it is necessary for the job. Since I believe strongly that credibility is a key part of leadership, I think it is dangerous to make claims that lying is integral to the job.  Credibility is a binary judgment […]


The power of a simple message from 7 score and 10 years ago

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. As you may know, Lincoln was not the keynote speaker that day: Edward Everett, an orator from Massachusetts, spoke for more than two hours immediately before Lincoln. This was not unusual for the time, and Everett was considered a great speaker. Yet his involvement in the […]

Rating employees has its merits

Microsoft has finally abandoned its ill-conceived performance review system that pitted employee against employee. It would be easy to conclude from this that rating employees is a bad idea. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem at Microsoft is that performance ratings were tied directly to pay. So when the manager was saying […]

The million dollar hire

I was recently reminded of how important a single personnel decision can be. I traveled to San Francisco to make a presentation on behalf of a non-profit organization I’ve worked with for a couple of years. With non-profits, just as in for-profits, it is critical to get the right people in the right places. While […]

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Compfight cc

Honoring one leader on this Veteran’s Day

On this Veteran’s Day I am reminded that my first exposure to a really good leader was in the U.S. Navy. I accepted an officer commission to the Navy while still in college, which committed me to spending four years teaching at Naval Nuclear Power School (NPS). The commanding officer of NPS was always a Captain […]

Winning the People CEO Style

Governor Chris Christie, R-N.J., was re-elected as New Jersey governor in a landslide victory last night. His crossover appeal to independents and Democrats has lessons for CEOs. An article in Business Insider titled DEAR REPUBLICANS: Here’s How To Not Be Hated By Minority Voters listed four reasons for his popularity: “They like and trust him […]