The CEO Freedom Experiment

The CEO Freedom Experiment

My work life totally changed as of last Friday. This was not unexpected… in fact, in some ways, I’ve been preparing for this since the day I started my company SCOTTeVEST about 15 years ago. I am still the CEO, but with the help of my team, I dismantled and totally rebuilt what it means to be CEO.  It was not unlike taking apart a classic car and rebuilding it into a leaner, louder muscle car. In my old role as CEO, I was a control-freak, a micro-manager, a hands-in-every-project style of leader.  It was natural to me, and it worked.  But it also made every project MY project. In my NEW role as CEO, I will still provide the vision, but not the operations.  The evangelism without the execution.  The approvals, not the details. It’s a 180 degree turn, and it’s scary.  But it’s also liberating. The idea of redefining my role as CEO has been in the works for some time, but now that it has arrived I was hit with a rush of emotions ranging from sheer happiness to confusion to nervousness to excitement, and a whirlwind of thoughts about new beginnings. This is why I did it. They Were Ready I use the word “they” with intent: a company CAN’T be ready.  Computers and boxes of products can’t be ready or unready.  But the people that make up the company need to be capable of not only sustaining what has already been built, but growing it, expanding it and evolving it without the Founder/CEO being involved in every decision. The people need to be ready...
Highlights From This Week at SCOTTeVEST

Highlights From This Week at SCOTTeVEST

Around the Office Building a Stronger Company: I am wired to like people, which can sometimes make me a poor judge of character. In the past, if you wanted to work for SCOTTEVEST from TEC and could talk in complete sentences, I used to simply hire you. I am learning that there is a huge difference between talkers and doers, although it is hard to tell the difference until they start working with you. It is for this reason that I invited Sylva Leduc to join us at SCOTTeVEST headquarters this week. Sylva is a leadership strategist at Sage Leaders who incorporates a unique blend of Consultative Coaching in her work with clients and organizations. With 15 years of consultative experience, I am confident that Sylva will be able to take our already excellent team and fine tune our leadership skills. Keeping Our Employees Happy: In addition to building a team of leaders, making sure our employees are proud to work at SCOTTeVEST is a major goal of mine. I am always looking for new perks and opportunities to incorporate into the SCOTTeVEST corporate culture. The latest perk we are working on is adding a rock climbing wall in one of the stairwells of our building. It is a work in progress, but when it is complete, it will reach all the way to the top of the building and will be an excellent way for employees to take a break and relieve some stress during a crazy work day. On the Web A Personal Victory: Waking up to find that the Inc.com article discussing my experience with Shark Tank had made its way to...
Be the Squeaky Wheel and F.U.

Be the Squeaky Wheel and F.U.

How many times have you heard the phrase, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?” While I usually take a counterpoint on conventional wisdom by encouraging people to bite off more than they can chew and leap before you look, I actually think being the squeaky wheel can get most people what they want out of business and life. As a car and motorcycle guy who likes to drive really fast, you better believe I take this phrase seriously.  The last thing you want at 100+ MPH is a $10 part blowing out under high pressure, and a new squeak from a performance vehicle is never a good sign. Squeaky wheels have their place in business, too… and they can cut both ways. Squeaky Wheel Employees To paraphrase Tony Robbins, if you want better answers, ask better questions. When an employee asks me good questions… that’s a good squeak.  When they’re 5 minutes late for every meeting, that’s a bad squeak. The most eager, hardworking, intelligent, thoughtful employee can still be stuck doing entry-level tasks if they don’t make their employer aware of their contributions.  Tooting your horn in this way is a good squeak, and can create huge results for the employee. 15Five has essentially created a tool to help people do this, and the key is that it’s not bragging if it’s true.  Wins should be celebrated, and it’s a true win if the employee accomplishes it on behalf of the company. Tell your boss what you’re doing, and you’ll excel if what you are doing is worthwhile and valuable.  If you are ineffective, ask for help.  Employers have...
Tech on Deck Recap

Tech on Deck Recap

Like many entrepreneurs, I thrive on accomplishing the impossible.  Perhaps you can relate. About one month ago, I had an idea to meet with my friend Robert Scoble (Futurist at Rackspace) during the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference.  I live about a mile from the site of the annual, famed and secretive “billionaire conference,” and we thought it would be fun to hang out and see who we could run into around town. Of course, like all entrepreneurs and creative people, Robert and I couldn’t just leave well enough alone, and we started one-upping each other with ideas until the concept grew to become a major media event: Tech on Deck. This is Tech on Deck in a Nutshell Tech on Deck wasn’t a pipe-dream.  We actually pulled it together in about 2 weeks, secured sponsorships and assistance from Cisco, NewTek and UStream (in addition to our companies Rackspace and SCOTTeVEST), and fully fleshed out the concept. It started as two tech-oriented friends discussing the future of media and technology while riding on the coattails of a much bigger conference across town, and it essentially became the pilot for a TV show and proof-of-concept for a new media brand.  We had tons of viewers, had some phenomenal guests and even crashed a Mark Zuckerberg karaoke party…. We interviewed Guy Kawasaki, Hap Klopp (founder of The North Face), Gary Shapiro (CEO of CES) and close to a dozen other major tech influencers on topics that helped to dissect their vision of the future of tech.  While it’s fun to imagine the far-flung future, we were most curious about their...
Go Inside the Allen & Company Billionaire Conference Right Now

Go Inside the Allen & Company Billionaire Conference Right Now

There are a lot of millionaires in the world… hell, even my dentist is a millionaire. But billionaires are a rare breed. They may cross paths or compare notes privately, but it’s not as if dozens of them fire up their private jets and converge in someone’s backyard for a cookout, right? Actually… they do (in a way).  And they do it in my (figurative) backyard. The Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference To the outside world, this is a pretty mysterious event. When dozens of the world’s top net worth individuals converge for a private conference nestled in the mountains of Idaho, it sounds like a plot device in a conspiracy thriller. To someone who lives and works around Sun Valley, Idaho (like me), the annual Allen & Company conference is more of a curiosity than a conspiracy. It’s the reason why there’s traffic for one week of the year. It’s a chance to see a different type of celebrity hanging around town than our area’s typical residents-or-vacationers-of-note (like Bruce Willis and Adam West). Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a previous Sun Valley Conference  wearing a vest from my company SCOTTeVEST.  We have provided clothing for attendees for three years.  Embedded image used under editorial license from Getty Images. Widely considered to be the most exclusive business conference in the world, theAllen & Company Sun Valley Conference guest list is a closely guarded secret.Frequent attendees include Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Tim Cook, George Soros, Rupert Murdoch, Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and other high-profile media leaders. The combined net worth of the attendees...