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...
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...
Triple Your Odds of Getting a Job with One Simple Trick

Triple Your Odds of Getting a Job with One Simple Trick

Don’t you hate those clickbait articles that have a really catchy headline, then make you read three pages before they tell you the “one simple trick,” and it turns out to be really dumb?  Let’s not make this one of those articles. The Trick is to Send a Thank You Note I started my company SCOTTeVEST about 15 years ago, and since then I’ve hired a lot of people.  Almost every single one of them – and all major contractors – interviewed with me. Within my company, I have a bit of a reputation of wanting to hire everyone I interview.  Maybe it’s because people who are interviewing for a job are on their best behavior, and I perceive that behavior as the minimum I can expect from them every day to follow. While my team may have a more realistic view of an interviewee’s long-term capabilities than I get from a first impression, there is something we all agree on: we don’t hire ANYONE who doesn’t send a thank you note. It’s the Thought that Counts Email is great.  Handwritten is fine, too (but the slow speed of mail is a negative).  If you can make a carrier pigeon work (or a raven, for fellow Game of Thrones fans), I would even accept that. When it comes to thank you notes following an interview, it is the thought – and then the act – that matters more than the method. You ARE Being Judged When someone comes in for a job interview, the interviewer may only have 4 or 5 data points about the interviewee.  A resume, cover...
Pocket Wisdom from the Other Side of the Shark Tank: Do Your Own PR to Win

Pocket Wisdom from the Other Side of the Shark Tank: Do Your Own PR to Win

A dozen years before my company TEC/SCOTTeVEST appeared on Shark Tank, I thought I already knew everything about how to make my brand succeed. I knew I needed PR (and I was right). I also knew that I needed to hire a PR agency (and I was DEAD wrong). As a newly-minted, bootstrapping entrepreneur with a literal boatload of product on its way to me, and my Net 30 terms steadily ticking by, I believed that the difference between my success and failure could be as thin as a single article in a major publication.  Fifteen years and over ten thousand media mentions later, I can attest that PR is indeed one of the most powerful things an entrepreneur can pursue for their business. If you want to win as an entrepreneur, you need to do your OWN PR.  This is why. Why Do Your Own PR? No one will be as passionate and energetic about your brand as you are, and communicating passion and energy is the key to getting the attention of the press.  If you can’t communicate your own passion, work on it.  Your employees, vendors, contacts and especially the press need to be infected by your passion. As an entrepreneur, keep in mind that your payoff for doing press is that you get to live the life you want and deserve.  The stakes are high… your livelihood, your future, your freedom.  When you channel that deep-seated need and express your company’s mission with that passion as the fuel, the press will listen. If you are the client of a PR firm, you are just a...
Bitten by Shark Tank: What Really Happens to Entrepreneurs After The Tank

Bitten by Shark Tank: What Really Happens to Entrepreneurs After The Tank

The Shark Tank season finale airs (tonight) Friday, May 15th 2015 on ABC.  Check your local listings. It seems like everyone knows that I was on ABC’s Shark Tank for my companies TEC-Technology Enabled Clothing® and SCOTTeVEST… even people I meet in my travels.  There is this look of vague recognition, a squinting of the eyes, a slight turning of their head, and then one of several variations on the questions: “Where have I seen you?” or “Were you on Shark Tank?” If the person I’m speaking with doesn’t mention the show immediately, I usually ask, “Do you watch Shark Tank?” 9.5 times out of 10, it clicks for them instantly.  And then, they have an opinion about my appearance that they are not shy about sharing.  Sometimes loudly. Perhaps it had something to do with me telling the Sharks they were “out” – a Shark Tank first that led to my episode being considered the most controversial of all time. I’m sure this experience is largely the same for the hundreds of other people who have appeared on Shark Tank over the years, though their appearances on whole have been a lot less polarizing than mine was.  Chalk some of that up to me, and some of it up to creative editing, as I described in a previous article on LinkedIn. All things considered, my experience with Shark Tank has been life-changing in a positive way.  This is a common sentiment amongst Shark Tank entrepreneurs, whether they got a deal or not.  Shark Tank is a good experience, but not in any way that the audience at home might...