Jan 5 2023

Book Short: Must-Read for CXOs

Lead Upwards: How Startup Joiners Can Impact New Ventures, Build Amazing Careers, and Inspire Great Teams, by Sarah E. Brown, is an amazing book – and one that fits really well with our Startup Revolution series, in particular our book Startup CXO.

I kept thinking as I was reading it that it was the other side of the proverbial coin…that Startup CXO was about the details of each executive job in a company…but Sarah’s book is about the things common to ALL executive jobs – how to get them, how to succeed at them, essentially how to BE an executive. I read it front to back in a single day one weekend and loved it.

Some of the most insightful moments in her book are:

  • Why big company executives who join startups often struggle
  • How to get promoted by proactively doing the next job – act “as if” – while still excelling at your current job
  • The importance of managing to the CEO’s preferred work style (personally…I’d debate this – I think CEO’s should manage to their CXOs’ work styles or at least make it a two-way street, but her point is very valid!)
  • Why executives shouldn’t just up and quit with “two weeks’ notice” but that executives also need to be mentally prepared to be shown the door when they resign
  • The importance of getting your hands dirty and not being “above” doing the work of your team
  • Mastering the art of data-driven storytelling

Sarah quotes a number of CEOs throughout the book who I know and respect, from Nick Mehta at Gainsight to Mindy Lauck at Broadly. It was fun to read the book and see a number of very familiar names in it along the way.

Sarah and I did an interesting format – sort of a “dueling fireside chat” about our respective books on a webinar last fall. We had a fantastic conversation that could have gone on for hours. If you’re an executive – or an aspiring executive – you should go read her book.