How many times have we heard or said the phrase: “It’s not you, it’s me” or “I’m sorry, but it’s not going the right way” – why do we say these phrases? why are we all so self involved with the way we see the world? are we that self involved and incapable of seeing other perspectives? – the answer in most cases is “YES”. Sorry to say, most CEOs and managers are so self involved, so self centered – that apart from their little point of view, they are incapable of seeing the big picture (or in some extreme cases, any picture).

Over the course of the past few months I’ve come to learn that running your own venture is not about myself and it’s not about the venture – it’s about one simple thing, my ability to let go and let others do their job. Being a tech-head and a CEO is always problematic – it’s the never ending conflict between the “I’ll do it myself in 10 minutes” and the “I need to let go”. It’s so hard to let go, personally speaking, it’s virtually impossible at times. But, and this is the biggest but in the world, if as CEOs we want our companies to evolve, grow, expand and succeed in their goals – we must simply let go.

What have I let go? I have let go of my own personal desire to know each and every line of code in our platform. I’ve let go of my own fear of not having intricate details of each and every one of our products. I’ve let go my overbearing nature of telling other people what and how to do things, and most importantly, I’ve accepted the fact that just like myself – other people prefer to be shown the way, but walk it on their own. Personally speaking, it’s one of the most frightening thing a person needs to do. It’s like walking into a self-driven car, put the destination and sit in the back, grasping the seat with fear, praying and hoping that the car doesn’t crash into another one along the way. But, if you learn how to communicate with said self-driven car – you rapidly realize that while it is autonomous, it listens to you. You are able to direct it and point out various flaws to it – after all, it is intelligent, but still lacks your years of experience and know-how.

So, as I’ve let go of some things, I had to take ownership of other things. While I no longer cared how the “Object Factory” was implemented, and the reasoning of using one library against another was no longer an issue to me – I’ve discovered that my mind started racing to deal with the larger questions. For example: “How to increase my deal funnel?”, “How to I convey my thoughts and ideas in a clearer way?”, “How do I turn my ideas into actionable items?” – and then I realized one little thing, all these questions are no longer about me, they are all about THEM.

Who are THEM? Them are the company employees that work alongside with me with a shared vision, them are the various prospects that we converse with, them are our customers and partners whom we’re at constant communications. It’s no longer about my own personal wellbeing or success – it’s about theirs. Their success become my company’s success, their personal growth and advancement are my advancement and growth – and as they grow and advance, so do I, as a leader, as a CEO, as a person – and as a human being.

In the world of business it’s easy to forget. Easy to forget that we are all human, that we all make mistakes, that at the end of day we all crave and desire the same basic things. I used to work to someone who said: “If an employee doesn’t challenge me technically, I have no use for that employee” –  what a stupid thing to say. This is not a Trivia contest, this is not an academic decathlon, business has its own set of challenges and issues. Some are technical, but most of them are not.

So, what CEO will you be?

For those of you that know me in person, most of you know the various turmoils I’ve gone through during 2017. There is so much I would like to write about, but due to various reasons, I can’t (or don’t want to) write about. Instead of dwelling about what I can’t (or won’t) write about – I would like to write about my own personal process of growth.

Being an entrepreneur is very challenging – everyone will tell you that. If you would ask various entrepreneurs what are their challenges, most of them would indicate one of the following:

  1. Raising funds for my venture
  2. Defining the product
  3. Building a strategy
  4. Hiring the right people
  5. Dealing with customers
  6. Dealing with employees
  7. Dealing with investors
  8. Dealing with Banks
  9. Dealing…
  10. Dealing…
  11. Dealing…

Then if you ask most of them what is the thing they need help with, they will most probably answer: “Oh, I already have people working on all of these – they’re covered”. The thing is, that most entrepreneurs won’t admit, or purely are afraid to admit – the only thing the challenges them truly is: LONELINESS. It never quite hit me, at least as hard as it did during 2017, how lonely is the seat of the CEO.

If you ask my dad how hard the role of the CEO is, he will comment: “It’s not hard, you get the deals, other people do the work and you collect the cash.” – and that is soooooooo wrong. Most CEO’s are alone. Alone with their decisions, alone with their achievements, alone with their failures, alone with their mistakes and alone with their guilt. As CEO’s we are always examined, by our employees, by our customers, by our partners, by the market – if in some manner it is capable of thought or perception, you are being examined, judged and executed according to it. You can be perfect at everything, mess up one little thing – and from that moment you are cursed (at least by one of them) – or if you’re in Hollywood, you’re toxic.

Regardless of what you believe, there are things CEOs can’t talk about with other people. Things that CEOs can talk to other CEOs only – why? because no one other than another CEO will understand these. A CEO may be tackling financial issues, business issues, operational issues or any other type of issue – he is always the CEO, for good and for bad.

Since July 2015 I’ve been undergoing a personal coaching process. For some it would seem really odd that a CEO may need coaching, specifically when that CEO provides mentorship to other start-ups. However, allow me to say the following, every CEO, and I do mean EVERY CEO, needs a personal coach to work them. The coach doesn’t tell you what to do, he simply provides another level of external reflection on your actions and thoughts, kind of like an alter-ego that may sometimes say: “You know, that’s a good idea, have your considered all possible options? can you see other options? can you backup your decision with fact or just gutt feeling?”. Your coach can be a hired business/personal coach, or for the lack of a better term, it can be another CEO you trust, or a seasoned family member with some serious lifelong experience – but it has to be someone you look up to, someone you trust and most importantly, someone who is capable of listening and reflecting with you – not simply tell you what to do.

Since September 2016, the business coaching had evolved into CEO peer review sessions. Peer reviews are really important – I never quite realized how important they are, till I started attending these myself. As I previously said, the CEO chair and office are a lonely one. Being inside a Peer review group of CEOs helps get an additional perspective on things. There are various forms of review boards, the one I am part of is called TAB. Don’t get me wrong, the review board is there not to echo your thoughts, it is there to provide you with a set of “slanted mirrors”, with each CEO in the review board seeing your issues from a different angle – each one giving his own feelings, reflections and experience into the mix. Personally speaking, without the assistance of the review board I’m a part of, I’m not sure I would have been able to pull off 2017 as I did.

Thus, allow me to provide you with the following pieces of advice:

  1. If you are an entrepreneur or CEO and you are contemplating upon an issue, feel free to contact me via the message board – leave me your email, I promise to come back to you.
  2. If you are about to lose your mind about something relating to your business – relax! It’s nothing more than a minor anxiety attack, take a deep breath, pour yourself a nice little drink and reflect. After 5 minutes, trust me, it would all look extremely simple.
  3. Make sure you have someone to confide with – it’s important. If you are going to some form of therapy, DO NOT CONFIDE with your therapist – they are therapist, not business people. Only confide with people who can truly appreciate your currently status and position, anything else is just imagination.

And the most important advice is the following:

With every challenge and difficulty lies an opportunity. Winners see the opportunity in everything, losers see only the difficulties – be a winner