Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I Love VC Mark Suster’s “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way” on Medium

30 April 2016

 

UnknownAI don’t know Mark Suster from Adam, but I agree with his four-minute post on Medium.  He talks about how leadership is about being respected more than loved; about how leadership is a thankless and stressful job.  He talks about the importance of the followers — the team — and how the results are owned not by the leaders but by the followers.  And he talks about how if you’re not going to lead or follow (and most of us do both; we follow our boss while we lead our team), then you should quit and join another organization.

Well worth the four minute read.

22 Ways To Make Email Not Suck

22 July 2014

--If what Alexander Graham Bell invented in 1876 was email – and if the technology invented 95 years later was the telephone – the immediacy of a telephone call would have been seen as an improvement over the delayed back-and-forth communication of email.

Most of us either misuse email ourselves, or we get buried in emails sent by others – often our boss! – who misuse email.

Here’s a collection of 22 tips others have taught. I contend that, if each of us followed all 22 tips, we’d have better communication – and we’d spend a lot less time on email each day.

Today, there are companies who claim the productivity tool they invented will allow you to eliminate email — Asana’s claim of, “Teamwork Without Email” comes to mind. Don’t believe it. Email’s here to stay. So.. (more…)

Completed 15th Interim CEO Gig in 14 Years

9 April 2014

CSM LogoAs with all of 15 interim gigs, the success we had over the last year when I was Interim CEO at Cambridge Sound Management is due to the people.   As my first boss said, “Success in business is all about the people.” Hire good people. Train them. Motivate them. Empower them.

I’ve found this to be true no matter what industry I’ve been in and no matter what size the company.

CSM is the number one sound masking company in the world. It’s main product line, QtPro is based on patented technology and is used by over 40% of the Fortune 100 companies to protect speech privacy and to (more…)

Eileen Desmond Pieri Eulogy

31 December 2013

Comptometer     I was lucky to be asked to write the eulogy for my mom’s funeral on December 30th — exactly 51 years to the day after my dad’s funeral.   But it wasn’t my work – rather it was the collective work of many people, whose help I appreciate. In case you’re interested, here it is…

There’s an expression, “You only die if no one remembers you.” Based on the many heartfelt stories we’ve received, it’s clear that if ever there is someone who will be remembered, it is Eileen.

Today, let’s remember Eileen with numbers.

As many of you know, Eileen was always good with numbers. Well into her 97th year mom could still rattle off all sorts of numbers such as the World War II dog tags of our dad and her brother. Right out of high school, Eileen became a master at running one of the precursors to the modern computer, a machine called a Comptometer. She was so good at it the bosses gave her some of the toughest calculations to do, often with businessmen in suits and smoking cigarettes hovering over her shoulder waiting until (more…)

One Way a Founding CEO Can Survive Their VC

7 October 2012

SurvivorMany (most?) founding CEOs don’t survive their VCs.  As Galen Moore states in his Mass High Tech piece, “Venture capital investors are notorious for investing in a startup, then replacing its founder with a more-seasoned CEO from their network.”  Galen highlights four founding CEOs that have survived, though the article is a bit light on specifics as to how each achieved their success.

Here’s one way: In the last decade, I’ve seen first-hand a number of companies where a founding, first-time CEO heads the VCs off at the pass by bringing in a seasoned COO, on an interim basis, to help them through a rough patch.

It’s true that half of my ten interim assignments have been as CEO, where the VCs wanted to replace a founding CEO.  In each case I was asked to take over from a fired founding CEO and “right the ship” before an executive search for an industry-specific CEO could be undertaken.

But the other five interim assignments have been as COO, where the founding CEO themselves decided (more…)

Founding CEOs; How Not to Get Fired by Your VC

15 October 2011

When I was signing up for this year’s unConference, I was reminded how last year’s event was great because of the impromptu breakout sessions where it was fair game to discuss controversial subjects.  I wish every founding CEO could have been at last year’s session titled, “How founding CEOs can transition from visionary to leader.”  Though that was the title, it was clear from the get-go that this session was really about, “How founding CEOs can avoid getting fired before they ever make that transition from visionary to leader.”  Eric Paley and Katie Rae, the session leaders, did a great job covering this controversial subject, focusing on solutions to this common problem.

For the last decade, I have been “up close and personal” with the subject of founding CEOs getting fired.  As interim CEO at a half dozen companies I bridged the gap after a founding CEO was let go by his investors.  And as interim COO at another half dozen companies I helped the founding CEO endure the pressures of their job.  (As one founding CEO said when he called asking for help, “Des, I’m one Board meeting away from getting fired.  Can you give me a hand?”)

In last year’s unConference session, people had many reasons why founding CEOs get fired “early and often.”  The reasons that resonated with me are: (more…)

Question: When is someone who works less hours the better employee?

9 October 2010

Answer:  When they focus on efficiency, not time.

I advise young founding CEOs, either in my role as interim COO or as a “CEO Coach.”  A common issue they raise is their frustration with an employee who does not work incredibly long hours.  I struggled with this until I recalled that, when I was their age, I felt the same way!  I’ve been managing since I was 23 and, for about a decade, I too was impressed with an employee who worked the longest hours.

But then I hired Chris Pooley and he taught me that (more…)

Could grads from Northeastern be better entrepreneurs than grads from Harvard or MIT?

26 August 2010

Having just sat through the final presentations of ten entrepreneurial teams graduating from Dean Paul Zavracky’s yearlong I-Cubator program at Northeastern University’s School of Technological Entrepreneurship, I have to ask: Are these NU grads better suited to be entrepreneurs than the grads from Harvard’s HBS Business School or MIT’s Sloan Entrepreneurship Center?

I’ve seen the hard work – and focused energy — of prior grads from this NU program, such as Jason Evanish, who started Greenhorn Connect and who is an early team member of Laura Fitton’s Twitter startup, oneforty.  This year, I’ve met more folks from the program in my role as mentor to one of the NU teams, NueBuild, whose founding members Ben Youtz and Peter Wiederspahn developed a patented, energy efficient, modular, low cost, home construction system.  I am providing hands-on mentoring to the founding team, as well as helping their efforts to enter their first target market, China.

Seeing ten Northeastern teams up close this week, I am left with the view that they might just be more practical, more hands-on, and more interdisciplinary-aware than the typical grads from those other business schools.  What’s your view?

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Report: 8 Cases When VC’s / Boards Should Hire An Interim CEO

25 February 2010

The Economist recently reported that venture capitalists and boards of directors of European companies are far ahead of their US counterparts in understanding when it makes sense to hire an interim CEO.  Now, a new report out of the UK – which has perhaps the most sophisticated interim management services in the world – details eight cases when a board should consider putting in an interim CEO.

I’ve listed them below, but first three other key points from the report:

  1. Interim CEOs are not consultants; rather, they are hands-on workers.
  2. Interim CEOs are not potential employees; the good ones do interim work as a way of life (and not as a “filler” until a poor economy improves.)
  3. Interim CEOs can be taken into the confidence of a board (as an interim person has the advantage of impartiality.)

The report also talks about why younger and younger executives are turning to interim management as a way to achieve a more flexible and rewarding career.  While delivering significant benefits to the client, interim managers provide themselves with (more…)

The Economist: “Why Many USA Companies Now Hire Interim CEOs.”

30 December 2009

The Economist has a great article about the type of work I’ve been doing for ten years, Interim CEO. The piece addresses why many American companies are now adopting a practice that originated in Europe, and why so many top-notch execs are enjoying these temporary CEO jobs.

The Economist postulates that “interim executives may be the wave of the future in all rich countries, as these countries evolve from what Peter Drucker called a ‘society of organizations’ into a ‘society of networks.’”

Why Companies Do It

The article details three reasons why a company might choose to (more…)