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September 15, 2023
Read time: 2:46 minutes
Being a great CEO takes a lot of work. You have to work not only on your business but also on yourself.
I've found one of the best ways to get better is by asking smarter questions.
A few years ago, one of my mentors asked me a profound question (actually, it was three questions) that changed how I evaluate myself as a CEO.
The three questions center around this idea:
These are heavy-hitter questions. Fragile egos beware.
Today, I'm breaking down each of these questions and sharing my candid answers with you. My hope is that they provide you with some fresh perspectives on ways you can level up as a firm owner.
So the new CEO comes in on day one.
They take a look at my calendar, my priorities, and my goals.
What would they stop doing?
I do a bunch of things that I know aren't the best use of my time, resources, and energy. If I'm being honest, thinking through what my replacement would axe normally stirs up some feelings of guilt.
But growth usually lives inside of discomfort.
My replacement would surely stop responding to Slack and emails as frequently as I do. They'd also stop procrastinating when it comes to written content (this newsletter included). Would they stop drinking Diet Coke? Who is to say...
But the number one thing that my replacement would stop doing is interrupting my team so often.
I've developed a bad habit of Slacking people in real-time as things pop into my head. I know it interrupts their workflow. I know it slows them down. It's a self-serving habit and I need to focus on reducing that.
I have to work on that ASAP.
There is a laundry list of things that I knew 18 months ago that I needed to start doing.
✅ Document more processes.
✅ Tighten up some of the contracts.
✅ Fill a few additional roles on the team.
All important things.
So why haven't I started doing them?
Probably for many of the same reasons that we all put things off.
• Time constraints.
• Competing priorities.
• Maybe it's accountability.
• We just don't want to deal with the crap that will inevitably accompany the tasks.
Maybe those are valid reasons.
But if a new CEO came in to replace me, there's one thing I KNOW they would immediately start doing:
They would immediately start working to build out referral partnerships.
This is a HUGE business development opportunity for my firm, especially now that we have our ICA (ideal client avatar) identified!
There's no good reason that I've been putting this off and I'm certain that I'm leaving 6-figures of revenue on the table because of it. Worst of all, the effort-to-payoff ratio is super low.
This is moving up on my priority list for next quarter!
OK, so no doubt there are some things I should stop doing.
There are also some things I should start doing.
But I also know I'm not a total dumpster fire!
In fact, I'd go so far as to say I'm doing a few things really well.
Which of those things do I think my replacement would be sure to continue doing?
I think I've done a great job of creating a clear, long-term vision for my firm and communicating that to the team. Any CEO worth their salt (is that how the saying goes?) would continue the work I've done here.
You can ask anyone in my firm where we're headed and how we're going to get there... and I'd be willing to bet my last Diet Coke that they could answer with absolute confidence!
Most leaders don't offer that level of clarity to their people.
I'm going to make sure I continue doing so.
I've been disciplined about working through this exercise once or twice a year for about 10 years now.
It's a great time investment, especially when I'm willing to practice intellectual honesty (the hard part).
Block off 30 minutes tomorrow to journal on these questions.
I'd love to know what you discover (if you're willing to share).
Whenever you are ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
1. The Inner Circle - every month my team and I go live and share the most impactful lessons we've learned in our journey to start, scale, and optimize our own CFO firm (including live Q&A). Plus you'll get access to our private community of nearly 200 fractional CFOs.
2. If you'd like more amazing (and free!) content about starting, scaling, or optimizing your Fractional CFO firm check out The CFO Report.