“A ‘no’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.”
Mahatma Gandhi

To CEO or not to CEO?

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I am one of two founders in a new initiative – potentially a startup company. Both of us (as well as the company vision and concept) come from a creative background – we are both (firmly grounded with a good grasp and background in technology and business) artists. One of the core qualities of our lives is a relaxed approach to work – which means that we take the time to make the time to get things done right – and we will not compromise this quality in our lives.

While this is (arguably) all good and well – we feel that our business entity requires an additional energy. A driving day-to-day energy that will fuel the infrastructure processes that support business. Out of respect for our personal choices and to the business we are founding we have decided to seek a third partner – codenamed “The CEO”. A person who’s motivation and energy are suitable for the day-to-day bustle of getting  (and keeping) a company up and running. Someone who can provide us with the conditions we need to help her create the conditions she needs to run a successful business.

One of our consultants who is assisting us in business strategy and fund-raising resisted this suggestion. He offered that one of the assurances that investors are looking for is to see that the founders are actively involved and committed to the company – that they are not merely seeking to make a quick-buck and then leave the company to fend for itself. Our counter argument was that this 3rd partner demonstrates a clarity and maturity of the founders that realize the critical role of good management and that are taking measures early in the process to ensure the company infrastructures include this critical facility.

Though this is an interesting conversation that deserves attention – I would like to point out a more subtle aspect. The (unspoken) subtext of the conversation was that when it comes to investors –  there is talk of appearances – to make them feel that things are OK. This carries another more subtle (well hidden) subtext – that things as they are (well thought out, well intended, respectful of personal and business needs, etc.) are not OK – that they need to be disguised to appease. This was our wake up call – where the issue was (for the time being) resolved.

We decided to continue our search for “the CEO” – that third partner that will support our personal needs and those of the business. We will give thought to the form of the shape of the partnership and make sure that it is also supportive of personal and business needs of all the stakeholders. We are siding with straightforward truthfulness and honesty!

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