I found myself nodding my head while reading Jason’s list:
- Has Raised Venture Capital Before (and Has A Positive Reputation in VC Community). Or At Least, the One Best Positioned to Do It. A big part of a CEO’s job is to keep the company funded and not bankrupt. Investors interface with and focus mainly on the CEO, fair or not. Put the person who can get you the bucks in this role.
- Strong Evangelist, Good Hustler, and Enjoys Getting Up on Stage. The CEO should be the external face of the company. Most people don’t like getting up on stage, doing whatever it takes to get PR, trying to build the first customer and BD relationships. More on that here.
- Enjoys Interfacing With Customers. All customers, and especially early customers, want to meet with the CEO. Even if it’s just the CEO of a 4 person company. This is similar to the prior point. Wallflowers, do not apply. More on that here and here.
- Clear, No Questions Commitment to Running the Company for 7-10 Years. Some founders really aren’t 100% committed for 7-10 years or even 18 months. They like the idea but want to see if it takes off before committing mentally 100% (even if they’ve committed 100% of their current time). You can’t change that. But those people shouldn’t be CEO. Turning over the CEO in a start-up is bad. A bit more here: Maybe Plan on 30 Years as a Founder.
- Best Cross-Functional Recruiter. I’m putting this last but in some ways it’s first. 20%+ of the CEO’s job is recruiting. General rockstars at first, and then management, etc. etc. If your best recruiter isn’t in this role, you will really suffer. More on that here.
Ultimately, the CEO has 3 core responsibilities:
And, if you can’t navigate those three things, then, you’ve got some growing-up to do. It takes time and you’re going to fuck up a lot on your way to becoming a great CEO. For instance, my previous roles were preparing me for my future roles; and this never stops — keep going.
I’ve got a lot to learn.