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Founding CEOs: Don’t Assume You Can’t Do Something Just Because It’s the Norm

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A recent post on the OpenView Leadership Lab blog, “3 Paths for Founding CEOs: Adapt, Assemble, or Move On”, really got me thinking. I acknowledge that in most instances startup CEOs are receptive to passing the baton to more experienced and seasoned individuals as their company begins to scale. Their concern being that they might not be up to task of building out their business. However there are meaningful exceptions to the rule – take for example, luminaries like Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems. Many founding CEOs have the aptitude, courage and leadership skills to found, build, transform and successfully grow a business.

My belief is that for many entrepreneurs, the challenge and thrill in life is to personally and professionally evolve. To be a more accomplished and effective leader each and every year. To have the desire and presence of mind to constantly improve yourself and the business that you are leading. My brother Will and I founded a company, Strategic Technologies in 1988 and sold it in 2009 with an annual revenue exceeding $110M. Our goal was to build a business to last. In reflection on the 21-year journey, what was most important and memorable to us is that we helped other people to grow and evolve and in that process we felt we also grew.

My counsel to many aspiring business founders today is don’t assume you can’t do something because it’s not the norm. You could be missing out on a journey and career path that offers rewards far in excess of the investment made in time, energy and intestinal fortitude.


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