Does Your CEO Ask Tons of Questions? Here’s Why

CEO behavior is sometimes an enigma to the company, and even to you, the COO. When your CEO asks tons of questions, it might seem like they’re the least intelligent person in the room. This isn’t a bad thing. Here’s why and what you can learn from it.

The smartest CEOs are vulnerable, open to hearing what they don’t know, and are always trying to learn.

These CEOs show up asking more questions than anyone else. They’re OK with appearing ignorant in the moment because they know that by learning, they’ll come out ahead.

In fact, any person who behaves this way will come out FAR ahead of those who think they know it all or are afraid of looking stupid.

As you’re reflecting on the past year and planning for the next, consider these quotes from some great leaders before us. Then ask yourself, do I act like I know it all already, or am I truly ready to grow?

“As long as you’re green, you’re growing. As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot.”  

~Ray Kroc, McDonald’s

“Never be the smartest person in the room.”

~Michael Dell

Put another way, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Don’t be afraid to look like you don’t know it all and you’ll never stop growing.

Conflict Resolution for COOs

Conflict, by nature, involves emotions. The hardest part of dealing with conflict is untangling the emotions from the issue at hand. Often the way people feel about a problem is more important to them than the problem itself.

That said, you must deal with the emotional side of conflicts if you want to truly resolve them. Get all concerns on the table and discuss them in a rational way.

As Second in Command, hold yourself as responsible as your CEO does for setting the right tone in resolving a conflict. Sometimes the issue will be with your CEO, other times it will be with someone who reports to you. Either way, I’ve found these phrases really help you communicate effectively when you’re trying to resolve a conflict.

“When you…”

Describe exactly what the person did that you didn’t like, or what doesn’t follow your company’s system, values, and so on. Don’t criticize the person, criticize their actions. Be descriptive, not evaluative.

“I feel…”

Tell the person how their actions make you feel. For example, “I feel upset, frustrated, angry.” Describe your feelings and dig deep. If you can truly get your emotions out you’ll have no problem addressing the problem itself.

“I need…”

Describe what you need the person to do in the future in these situations so the conflict doesn’t return. By focusing on the need, you’ve addressed your feelings and the person realizes you’re getting to the meat of the issue and focusing on resolving the problem.

“How do you feel?”

Ask the other person to share their thoughts and feelings. They likely have their own version of the facts that need to be heard and validated before the conflict can be resolved.

Allowing everyone to be articulate, and pulling all their feelings out if need be, is the only way to resolve conflicts.

Do You Foster Useful Communication in Meetings?

Ever notice how the same people tend to talk a lot in meetings, and those who usually stay quiet never speak up? Quiet COOs against vehemently outspoken CEOs are a common example of how communication in most top-level meetings are quite lopsided, with one party doing all the talking. As the Chief Operating Officer, you might have felt that you could have added good value, if only you were given the chance to speak. The same applies down the rungs as well. In other words, if you are a 2nd in Command who has to remain quiet when the top brass meets, the least you can do is encourage the quiet employees who report to you to speak up.


And oh, if you are a CEO, you are essentially 2nd in command to no one, meaning that you have no outside perspective if you don’t encourage others to speak up to you.


In order to run successful meetings, you must engage every meeting participant, especially the ones who typically remain silent. With some encouragement, these people could really add value to the discussion.


During meetings, foster dialogue with the newcomers or quiet folks first, and then move around the table, moving up in seniority as you solicit feedback. Leaders should always give feedback last so that they don’t sway the group one way or the other. This is actually one of the key employee management tips that are taught at CEO, CFO and COO training seminars, to help executives build a more cohesive team.


Another strategy for fostering useful communication during meetings is to employ a strategy I learned from GE’s Six Sigma Workout Process, another standard item in CEO, CFO and COO training seminars.


It’s easy: simply give every meeting participant some adhesive notes, and instruct them to write down five to ten ideas, one per note.


I once did this with a client who wanted to find ways to increase revenue and decrease expenses. We gathered his 40 employees in a room and in only five minutes, we’d generated 150 ideas, which were then put up on the wall as each person read their own ideas aloud.


Imagine: 150 ideas in an hour! And everyone contributed. After the meeting, a few employees said it was the first time anyone had heard, listened to, or even asked for their ideas. Simple and highly effective.


And make sure people aren’t distracted by email or texting. I don’t mind if people bring iPhones to meetings and taking notes on your laptop is useful too. But email distracts others and yourself from the task at hand.

If you suspect someone is emailing, ask them to stop typing and show everyone what they’re doing. If you catch them emailing, they owe $10 or $20 to the company’s entertainment fund or company charity. Works like a charm!  And, if you call someone on it and you’re wrong, you owe them lunch instead! It’s a fun way to enforce meeting etiquette, without rebuking and insulting employees. I once saw a Chief Operations Officer go 0 for 7 calling out employees he thought were emailing, when all they were doing was taking notes on his speech! He lost $70, as he had promised to hand out a ten each time he called someone out wrongly. Sure, he lost $70, but he sent out a pretty darn good message.

Everything I Know about Recruiting I Learned from Duck Hunting

My grandfather Cam Shortts was a great businessman, but he was an even better hunter.


He owned a successful hunting and fishing lodge in northern Ontario, an amazing place where I spent many, many days in my youth. It was a lodge that was frequented by corporate big wigs – CEOs, CFOs and COOs holed up there on their vacations.


And it was “up north” nestled on the shore of a shimmering lake with that great man that I learned everything I needed to know about recruiting.

No, Gramps wouldn’t drag out his old business school texts to the duck blind. Instead, his methodical, precise approach to hunting taught me valuable lessons I’ve carried with me ever since.


Grandpa knew exactly what kind of ducks he wanted before he set out to hunt—mallards, blue-winged teals, and wood ducks. But more importantly, he knew what kinds of ducks he didn’t want. Namely, fish ducks who are renowned for tasting downright terrible.


It’s an approach many business people don’t take when “hunting” for candidates. Sometimes, hiring the right Chief Operating Officer, marketing executive, sales personnel or even a CEO for that matter, is about NOT choosing someone who will be bad for the company. Businesses focus so much on what they want, they don’t consider what they don’t want. Before the hiring process begins, you should absolutely list all the traits you would love to have in the ideal applicant—e.g., years of marketing experience, ability to travel, an MBA, with exemplary prior experience as a Chief Operations Officer, etc.


But then, think about the traits you absolutely don’t want. Your list might have things like avoiding candidates who appear to jump from job to job far too often, or who have worked for a company you don’t respect, or even candidates who smoke. I know of a CEO who gave the keynote speech at a COO training seminar just because he wanted to scout a COO he could make his 2nd in command. And believe it or not, he wrote off most of the COO candidates for being late to the training seminar because they were brushing off training as a unimportant experience!


Grandpa was so focused on getting the ducks he wanted, there were many times we’d go home without having fired a single shot (not an easy task for a 14-year-old who really liked to shoot!) He always said he’d rather leave without a single duck then leave with a bad one.


This lesson rang true when I was involved in hiring for a key senior position. I won’t name the company, but I will say is that we were on the lookout for a fearless Chief Operating Officer who could transition a company through difficult times. A director and I traveled to Boston and whittled 150 resumes down to 16 candidates. After multiple interviews with each of them, both my colleague and I couldn’t pinpoint one that blew us away. And despite the pressure to hire for the role, both of our guts said “no” so we flew home empty-handed.


Knowing what kind of ducks he wanted was one thing, but Grandpa’s ability to pick them out when most everyone else couldn’t even see any ducks in the sky was amazing. It’s a skill he honed over years of hunting (he did own a hunting lodge after all) and it’s a skill I’ve picked up after hiring hundreds of people in my career. CEOs, Chief Operations Officers, CFOs, you name it, and I have hired them.


Nearly anyone can gloss over their weaknesses with a fancy resume or well-crafted cover letter. But once you get that candidate into an interview, it’s easy to see right through their bluster and unearth the real candidate (for better or worse).


Huddled in our blind, waiting patiently for the birds we wanted—those are the memories I will always have of my Grandpa. These are also the lessons that have helped me recruit awesome employees throughout my career.

Happy hunting!

Make Your Team’s Goals Your Goals

We all encourage our employees to dream big, but did you ever consider that helping them achieve those dreams could go far in achieving your own goals? It doesn’t matter if you are 2nd in Command and not the CEO. Personally helping your employees become more ambitious will ultimately only reward you and the organization you work for.


It’s a concept I first read about in a book called The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly, and it’s one I’ve happily adopted. Basically, if, Chief Operations Officer, you focus on your employees’ personal goals instead of the work they do at your company, they’ll do just about anything to help you succeed.


Some think it sounds wishy-washy or idealistic, but it makes sense to me.

I’ve put it into practice by having my employees write down as many goals as possible in 30 minutes. I encourage them to use categories like:

  • Goods I’d like to buy
  • Activities I want to do
  • Subjects I want to learn
  • Places I want to go
  • Etc.

Then, I dedicate time every week to help them set tangible steps to make these dreams come true. I don’t mean loaning them cash for a 7-Series BMW or buying their ticket to Peru. Helping, in this case, means reverse engineering their goals into small, attainable steps. Or, it could mean lending expertise and calling in favors from your own network. For example, I knew of a CEO who helped his Chief Operating Officer take the right steps to attain a CMAA certification, just by putting him in touch with accomplished COO training experts. The grateful COO just delved into a whole new realm of commitment and vigor, taking operational efficiency to sky high levels. The COO eventually left the company for a bigger opportunity, but the little looking out that the CEO did paid him very rich dividends.


One of the first times I tried this exercise, I found three of my employees had listed “pay off my student loans” as one of their goals. They were being crushed by the burden and couldn’t seem to get ahead. So I sat them all down, worked out budgets with each of them, and followed up weekly to see how it was working out.


Within six months, they were either out of debt or well on their way. More than that, these guys suddenly had enough money to save and invest for the future. This was a while ago, and I am proud to say that one of those employees is now an accomplished Chief Operations Officer in a large cap firm!


With a few hours’ worth of mentoring, I had not only saved my guys from a truly horrible situation, I’d also created loyal partners for life. And needless to say, having a Chief Operating Officer as a friend who looks up to you just expands your networking reach so much. They’ll never forget how you helped them.


You can even think about this selfishly if you want. Help enough people achieve their dreams, and you’ll have so many loyal people in your pocket, you’ll have a huge network to lean on for anything: hockey tickets, stock advice, heck, even help when you are moving.

Everyone says a company is like a family, but it’s just lip service unless you really support your employees. Listen to their goals, then work your hardest to mesh them with your own, and you’ll be amazed at what can happen. And remember, whether you are a CEO, CFO or COO, you are the privileged 1% who can reach out to help the rest. As mentioned before, you don’t have to handout help. All you might have to do is just sit and talk to people for a few minutes!

Are You Coaching Effectively?

Coaching and developing people is core to any leader’s role, and it requires communication. Believe it or not, a great portion of CEO, CFO or COO training seminars are about CEOs, CFOs and Chief Operations Officers training their own reporting employees.

Not sure where I heard this, but the phrase “the ability to get people promoted is the best sign of a great leader” couldn’t be more accurate. I know I heard it back in the 1980s during my College Pro Painters days when we spent a lot of time coaching and mentoring franchisees.

Coaching done well is an art, and it helps build communication skills. You take in the information from a coach and turn it into real-world action. It’s the kind of stuff that takes someone from being 2nd in command to someone who grabs the helm. Developing the ability to ingest that kind of information and turn it into results is a precious skill and one that should be developed in each of your employees.

The best athletes in the world have coaches and continuously learn from them. CEOs, CFOs and Chief Operating Officers drawing six figure salaries all have mentors that they continuously learn from. Employees in a growing organization need the same skill development. Learning how to adapt our coaching styles to different situations and give constructive guidance and feedback are important because this helps us process information and that turn that into action.

We spend time coaching someone in a business setting because we need the learner to increase their results so we can hit our goals. CEOs do it to COOs. COOs and VPs do it to middle level operating managers. It passes down all the way to customer facing employees. That is how it should ideally work. At the end of the day, coaching will assist us in hitting the results leaders are supposed to hit too because we’re communicating the vision for the organization.

There is no question that preparation is one of the most important areas of coaching. If not done properly, the coach is merely flying by the seat of their pants and the learner knows this. Always walk into each discussion with a plan.

Originally posted Jul 10, 2017 6:09:00 PM

22 Tech Tools Every Biz Should Know

Here are 22 number of simple, cheap/free technology tools that virtually every company or leader can use to help them run the business more efficiently. And I don’t care if they don’t work on PCs or Blackberries – those are useless, so 2008 – move to an iPhone & Mac – join me on the dark side

  1. is a great new website for managing your TOP 5 priorities, and those of your team as well. It sends you great reminders & forces the habit of setting TOP 5 goals daily.
  2. Outsourcing Things Done – This company hires and manages executive assistants based in Manila for people like me. My assistant Melanel Perez is based in Manila and managed by people I’ve never met. In fact, they interviewed and trained her for me. I assign tasks to her weekly, and she cranks through them like a normal assistant would. We communicate via their company Wiki & Task software as well as Skype Video & email. Sure beats paying someone $40,000 a year who lives in North America when I can get the same work done for $1,200 a month by her. She’s got her business degree from one of the top schools over there too.
  3. Time Scroller – great free App for iPhone & Widget for MACs that allows you to see multiple cities time zones at the same time. You just scroll over with the mouse and it shows you when meetings can be set up at times that make sense for people in different time zones, countries etc. I find this super helpful when setting up conference calls with CEOs that I mentor in Europe, Asia & Australia.
  4. – free online application that seamlessly uploads your calendars. Others wanting to book time for meetings or calls with you simply look at your Free/Busy slots. All they can se is if you are free, they can’t see any details of the busy appointments at all.
  5. Dragon Dictation – allows you to leave a voice message which comes back to you transcribed for you to tweet, send as an email, copy & paste etc. Works awesome. It’s free. And works great in noisy environments too.
  6. Duo / TweekDeck – Great Apps to Update your status in multiple places like Twitter, FaceBook & LinkedIn at the same time. Duo is for the iPhone. Tweetdeck has both iPhone & free software downloads for your computer too.
  7. CardSnap – Great simple app for iPhone to take a photo of a business card. The data on the business card is then automatically imported into your database using OCR (Object Character Recognition). For $5 total – this is WAY better than any scanner I’ve used.
  8. Automator – MACs have a built in software program that allows you to Automate Tasks – (similar things can be done with a PC). An example is if you open the same 6 applications each time you start your computer – why not have it set up to open them automatically for you.
  9. eLanceGuruMechanical Turk – All three are great services for getting miscellaneous admin and technical tasks done by remote casual workers around the world. If eBay is a place where you sell stuff and people bid on what they pay to purchase your stuff. These services work the same way. You simply post your project that you need done, when you need it done, and people bid on what they are willing to do the work for. You’ll get references & samples of prior work and you can often get work done for 1/10th of what you’d pay a full time employee to do it in America.
  10. Skype Video – Why use a telephone to make sales calls or customer calls. We’ve been waiting for years to play with the technology that we saw on the TV Show The Jetsons. Now you can use it for free. Skype video calls are a fantastic way to keep building the relationship between you and your team, clients or prospects. Something extra happens with the face to face communication.
  11. Google Docs – There is no need to keep purchasing software applications like Word & Excel for your employees. Google Docs gives you these applications for free and IF you need to have something specific you can have one version of the real thing running on a shared computer in the lunchroom. Why pay for software licences year-after-year when you can get the same tools for free in the cloud.
  12. Basecamp – Fantastic project management software. Simple to use. Easy to access. And way less cumbersome than any of the big project management tools companies waste time using.
  13. Crowdspring & 99 Designs – These are both great services that many companies could utilize when getting random things designed. You post your project up and what you’re willing to pay and people from around the world submit designs to you hoping to be chosen. If you chose them, they get paid. It’s a great way to use Crowdsourcing to get marketing work done cheaply and quickly. It’s often as good as anything a normal designer would do for you.
  14. HARO – This free service which is called Help A Reporter Out sends you emails daily with writers around North America who are looking for experts to include in stories they are writing. Its an easy way to grow your brand.
  15. LinkedIn – This has been around for over ten years now. And it’s a great way to get introduced to people you need to talk with at companies. It is also a great way to read up on potential employees you are thinking of hiring.
  16. FaceBook – We all know what it is now, but many are missing the biggest opportunity that FaceBook provides. It’s a fantastic way to really get to know potential employees or companies you are looking to get affiliated with. People put a lot of information and pictures of themselves up there which give keys to valuable insights that normally take yeast to learn.
  17. RSS Readers – Don’t waste time going to each individual persons blog that you read. Set up an RSS Feeder such as NetNewswire that downloads all the blog posts for you to one place – and has them synchronized both on your laptop & iPhone. That way you can read them when you have spare time to kill versus reading them while you’re at your desk and could be focusing on project work.
  18. Ambiance – Simple App for the iPhone which plays background sounds at night when you’re on the road, trying to fall asleep in a strange hotel room. I used it recently while staying at The Driskill Hotel in Austin which is supposedly haunted. Falling asleep while listening to waves rolling up on shore made sleep easier than worrying about ghosts, or listening to traffic 10 streets below.

Informed Optimism (or Hopeful Realization)

This is a stage in your business that comes after a negative bout, also known as Crisis of Meaning.

It’s when you feel like The Little Engine That Could turned the corner and realized “he did” and “knew he would.”

You’ll start feeling energized again.  You’ll start re-building your confidence.  And you’ll start to feel momentum working in your favor again.  You’ll also have a lot more insight and experiential learning to draw from.  You’ll realize you have more competence and confidence than before and everything will start to go your way. This would be the ideal stage to always be at.  However, you won’t be at this stage forever.  More realistically, when you get here it just means you’re getting ready to ride the roller coaster again.

It will feel like on a real roller coaster when the chain grabs hold – like ch-ch-chch-chch!  Right?  And you have that sigh of relief. That’s because you’re fully informed that you’re OK, and now you’ve got the optimism that you’ll need to start going up again.  Just before that, you’re more hopeful.

This stage is also called Hopeful Realization. “I think I can… I think I can” turns into, “I know I can.”  You have to be really careful at this stage to not think everything is OK and pull away from your mentors and support groups.  You might just slide backwards off the track.

On a real life rollercoaster you can get off.  On the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship, you can’t.  The rollercoaster just keeps on going over and over again.  So just get used to it and never give up.

Watch these blokes on a roller coaster in Vegas.

Remember, when riding a rollercoaster, one has two choices:  They can either hold on for dear life and scream – or – They can waive their arms in the air and laugh.  Either way – they are still riding the roller coaster.  Exactly the same as the Transition Curve.  You’re going to ride it.  Enjoy the ride as much as you can.

Sell Stuff Online


If you can sell your products or services offline, you can probably sell some online.  I have been doing speaking events for groups of entrepreneurs for years and many of them try to share the lessons they learn at my events with their employees.  Now that I sell DVD recordings of my speaking events online, they can do this much more easily.  With a simple set-up through my website, companies in 15 countries have purchased and begun using my DVDs. It has been a great success both for me and the companies that find sharing these lessons with their employees useful.  It also allows me to make money while I sleep. Brilliant!

If you’re going to sell your services online, start with a website. Unless you dabble in web design, the simpler the interface, the better—that way, you don’t have to update it that often to maintain a fresh look.  Instead of loading your site with useless content, figure out what you want your site to do for you, and only provide content for those areas. Got it?  All I want people to do when they get there is either book me for speaking, hire me for coaching, or buy my DVDs. That’s it. Make it easy for people to figure out how to do the things you want them to do when they get to your site, and leave it at that. You don’t need anything fancy, just the facts.

Also look into ebayetsycraigslistalibaba and amazon as outlets to upload your content and sell it.

Up ↑