Category

Leadership

Measure Twice, Cut Once

The old carpenter’s axiom of being extra careful to plan before executing is something not enough executives take to heart in business. Just like cutting a piece of wood a little too long, sometimes you execute in ways that can be modified on the fly; but other times, just like the cases where you cut a piece of wood too short, you can’t. And of course, in business, sometimes it’s somewhere in between. Some examples: It’s an interesting question as to whether or not this axiom conflicts with the startup mentality of moving quickly and with agility. I don’t think it does, although in the startup ecosystem, a lot of fixed decisioning has moved to variable, which means you may…

You Don’t Need a CRO

One of the most common things early stage CEOs say to me once they find product-market fit and make a few sales is “I need a CRO.” The answer is almost always, “no, you don’t.” A couple years ago I wrote about the evolution of enterprise selling organizations in this post. Reading that is a good place to start this topic. Go ahead…I’ll still be here when you come back. Welcome back! So in the early days of a company, it’s all “selling on whiteboard.” The need that early stage CEOs have that prompts them to tell me they need a CRO is simple the need to have help selling. What the CEO really needs is a couple of very…

Chief People Officer Pitfall for Later Stage CEOs

(This is a bonus quick 5th post, inspired by long time StartupCEO.com reader Daniel Clough, to the series that ended last week about Scaling CPO’s- the other posts are: When to Hire your First Chief People Officer, What does Great Look like in a Chief Privacy Officer, Signs your Chief Privacy Officer isn’t Scaling, and How I Engage With The Chief People Officer.) As I’ve noted over the years, the Chief People Officer role is a tough one to get right and a tough one to scale with the organization if what you’re really looking for is a strategic business partner who can lead not just the important blocking and tackling in HR but innovates the people part of your…

Scaling Tip: Spend Less Time Talking. And Spend More Time Talking

One of my top 10 scaling tips for CEOs as they take a business from startup to scaleup keys in on communication patterns. As your company grows from 0-25 employees to a place where you no longer work hands-on with most of the team, which is really >25 but gets more and more true at every step beyond that, you need to rethink how you handle employee conversations in many ways. My tip sounds confusing, but let me break it down. Spend less time talking. The less you know about the day to day details of everyone’s job and experience, the more time you need to spend learning and keeping in touch with those details from others. The only way…

How I Engage With The Chief People Officer

Post 4 of 4 in the series of Scaling CPO’s- the other posts are, When to Hire your First Chief People Officer, What does Great Look like in a Chief Privacy Officer and Signs your Chief Privacy Officer isn’t Scaling. You won’t have a ton of time to engage with the Chief People Officer but there are a few ways where I’ve typically spent the most time, or gotten the most value out or my interactions with them. So, you’ll need to capitalize during those few moments when you do get a chance to engage with the Chief People Officer. I ALWAYS work with the CPO as a direct report.  No matter who my HR leader is, no matter how…

Why Have a COO?

The following is a guest post written by my dad, Bob Blumberg, long-time tech entrepreneur and now startup advisor and board member (yes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). To create a successful and sustainable, growing and profitable business, the leadership of the company must have both strategic and tactical understanding and capability. For this purpose let us define “strategic” as having the understanding of the customer, his problem, need, or desire, a knowledge of his own industry, its past, present, and likely future, how developments in other industries can be applied to his own, and how to envision the product or service that will succeed. In contrast, “tactical” is the understanding of how to get things done,…

Signs Your Chief People Officer Isn’t Scaling

This is the third post in the series. The first one When to hire your first CPO is here and What does Great Look Like in a CPO is here) If you’ve been following my previous blog posts on the Chief People Officer you have figured out when to hire one and what to look for in getting a great one but even so, you can’t just assume that your Chief People Officer is going to be able to scale with your company. I have found that Chief People Officers who aren’t scaling well past the startup stage are the ones who typically operate in the following ways. First, a CPO might not be able to scale if they are…

Onboarding Executives

I wrote a colorfully-named post years ago called Onboarding vs. Waterboarding, which detailed out some of the general principles around onboarding new employees that our companies have used over the years. A few weeks back, one of our clients and fellow CEOs of a Series C Ed:Tech company asked me for tips on onboarding senior executives, and some of what I said varied from or built on that earlier post. Here are a few of the themes we riffed on: Special thanks to my friend Amir for inspiring this post!

What Does Great Look Like in a Chief People Officer?

This is the second post in the series…. the first one When to hire your first Chief People Officer is here). While all CXOs are important to a company, the Chief People Officer is the one role you don’t want to get wrong because People Ops impacts every facet of a company. If you hire the wrong people—even one wrong person—you’ll regret it, and so will everyone else in your company. If you short-change the onboarding process you’ll create tons of work for others in the company to answer questions, teach people the systems, and help them get up to speed quickly—not to mention the frustration of the new hire. And of course, if you or your employees do anything…

Should CEOs Wade Into Politics, Part II

I’m fascinated with this topic and how it’s evolving in society. In Part I, a couple years ago now, I changed my long-held point of view from “CEOs should only wade into politics when there’s a direct impact on their business” (things like taxes and specific regulations, legal immigration) — to believing that CEOs can/should wade into politics when there’s an indirect impact on business. In that post, I defined my new line/scope as being one that includes the health and functioning of our democracy, which you can tie to business interests in so many ways, not the least of which this week is the Fitch downgrade of the US credit rating over governance concerns. Other CEOs will have other…

When to Hire Your First Chief People Officer

(Post 1 of 4 in the series of Scaling CPO’s) In most startups, the HR function starts out as tactical, because you have to get people hired and paid, and while you might have a founder or early-stage employee who can do these things, often these tasks are frequently outsourced to a PEO.  As the company grows, it probably in-sources payroll and benefits, hires a recruiter, and maybe has an HR Manager who handles the function. Depending on the number of roles you see being filled, the degree of specialization, or a host of other factors, an in-house team to handle the tactical aspects of HR makes a lot of sense. But at some point you may need to hire…