Books

I’ve published two versions of Startup CEO, and am excited about the launch of a new book called StartupCXO coming in the Spring of 2021.


You’re only a startup CEO once. Do it well with Startup CEO, a “master class in building a business.”

—Dick Costolo, Partner at 01A (Former CEO, Twitter)

Being a startup CEO is a job like no other: it’s difficult, risky, stressful, lonely, and often learned through trial and error. As a startup CEO seeing things for the first time, you’re likely to make mistakes, fail, get things wrong, and feel like you don’t have any control over outcomes.

As a Startup CEO myself, I share my experience, mistakes, and lessons learned as I guided Return Path from a handful of employees and no revenues to over $100 million in revenues and 500 employees.

Startup CEO is not a memoir of Return Path’s 20-year journey but a CEO-focused book that provides first-time CEOs with advice, tools, and approaches for the situations that startup CEOs will face.

You’ll learn:

How to tell your story to new hires, investors, and customers for greater alignment How to create a values-based culture for speed and engagement How to create business and personal operating systems so that you can balance your life and grow your company at the same time How to develop, lead, and leverage your board of directors for greater impact How to ensure that your company is bought, not sold, when you exit

Startup CEO is the field guide every CEO needs throughout the growth of their company and the one I wish I had.


“Startup CXO is an amazing resource for CEOs but also for functional leaders and professionals at any stage of their career.”

– Scott Dorsey, Managing Partner, High Alpha (Former CEO, ExactTarget)

One of the greatest challenges for startup teams is scaling because usually there’s not a blueprint to follow, people are learning their function as they go, and everyone is wearing multiple hats. There can be lots of trial and error, lots of missteps, and lots of valuable time and money squandered as companies scale. My team and I understand the scaling challenges—we’ve been there, and it took us nearly 20 years to scale and achieve a successful exit. Along the way we learned what worked and what didn’t work, and we share these lessons learned in Startup CXO.

Unlike other business books, Startup CXO is designed to help each functional leader understand how their function scales, what to anticipate as they scale, and what things to avoid. Beyond providing function-specific advice, tools, and tactics, Startup CXO is a resource for each team member to learn about the other functions, understand other functional challenges, and get greater clarity on how to collaborate effectively with the other functional leads.

CEOs, Board members, and investors have a book they can consult to pinpoint areas of weakness and learn how to turn those into strengths. Startup CXO has in-depth chapters covering the nine most common functions in startups: finance, people, marketing, sales, customers, business development, product, operations, and privacy. Each functional section has a “CEO to CEO Advice” summary from me on what great looks like for that CXO, signs your CXO isn’t scaling, and how to engage with your CXO.

Startup CXO also has a section on the future of executive work, fractional and interim roles. Written by leading practitioners in the newly emergent fractional executive world, each function is covered with useful tips on how to be a successful fractional executive as well as what to look for and how to manage fractional executives.