Thursday, January 27, 2022

Productivity for SMB CEOs

Apps, processes, discipline, and little orange books.

We recently had an online “Square Table” gathering of VA Council of CEOs members to learn from one another on how to be more productive in our work and lives. Here are some of the ideas and tools that work for these entrepreneurs, business owners, and CEOs.

Email, the bane of our existence

  • Inbox Zero is possible, and at least one or two of the CEOs in meeting do it daily. Here’s how, from Ari Meisel, who spoke at our Spring Retreat a few years ago. Basically, you make a decision on every email the first time you look at it — DO, DEFER, DELEGATE, or DELETE.
  • One person uses four email addresses. They help him separate out personal, business internal, business external, and marketing.
  • is a tool used by some. Some email clients have unsubscribe functions that are easy to use. Just don’t unsubcribe from VACEOs mail!
  • Many folks use filters and rules to automatically move emails to folders. For example, I have a filter I use to move all email from speakers and meeting venues (it’s a lot) to a folder for later review.
  • Some use Slack or Teams for internal communication, reducing email volume.

Mind Like Water . . .

  • David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, talks about Mind Like Water, and defines it as “a mental and emotional state in which your head is clear, able to create and respond freely, unencumbered with distractions and split focus.” Achieving that is the trick! Following are several tricks mentioned by this group of CEOs.
  • Block your time. Mark out time on your calendar for one thing without distraction – reading, writing, meeting prep, yoga, whatever.
  • You brain is not good at storing information. It is made for processing. So, do whatever you can to get information offloaded and stored elsewhere. Evernote and OneNote make it easy to organize notes, store documents and set reminders.
  • Use Hey Siri! or Hey Google! and tell them to remind you when you need to know.
  • Some CEOs, even those who have small organizations, make use of an assistant – either someone in their business or a virtual assistant.
  • Several people mentioned using journal books – the orange VACEOs books are a favorite. Some use them just for notes, others use them to list that day’s to-do list. I use a Full Focus Planner, which helps me organize my day’s work without digital distraction.
  • Ari Meisel introduced me to FollowUpThen, which allows you to bcc an email and have it return to my inbox at a certain time. Gmail has similar functionality built in.

Is your time worth more than $15 an hour?

  • Meetings Suck! And they waste a ton of time, as Cameron Herold taught VACEOs members a few year ago. A key takeaway — No Agenda, No Attenda!
  • Calendly save you hours of back and forth trying to schedule meetings. Just send someone your Calendly link and let them choose from among available times.
  • Have you (the business owner) ever spent an hour or more searching for the best deal and route for a $350 flight? Old school tip — use a travel agent. The do the searching, present you the options, and when your get stuck in Denver, you have someone to call who can actually help you get another flight. The cost is minimal.
  • Finally, one CEO said that she regularly stops and asks herself, “Why am I doing this $15 an hour work? Shouldn’t I be spending my time on $1,000+ an hour work?”

What are your favorite productivity tools, hacks, and tips? Share in the comments!

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 4:37 pm
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Monday, March 29, 2021

4 Tips to Help Introverted Leaders Succeed in the Workplace

It is widely believed in Western culture that to be a great leader you should be an extrovert. “You need to be able to walk in front of a microphone in front of a big group, capture the crowd and be charismatic be outgoing. Think politicians, kissing babies. And that is far from the truth, explains Brad Eure, co-founder of Eure Consulting. Adding, There are a lot of strengths that extroverts have. There are just as many that introverts have.“

According to Eure, introverts make up nearly half the population. If you think you are an introvert, you are far from being alone. 

Introverts: Why the Bad Wrap?

A hundred years ago, Carl Jung defined a person as being either introverted or extroverted by how they process the world around themselves and how they get and spend energy. There are varying degrees of each, and a person can be considered an ambivert, but to simplify it: extroverts seek out and get energy and stimulation from their outside environment. It energizes them. Introverts are the opposite.

For many introverts, quarantine life today is a little easier, as most of the mixing and mingling and interruptions they encountered pre-pandemic has come to a standstill.

Introverts are sometimes stereotyped as “anti-social” or “shy”, but those traits are found in extroverts as well. “Being shy is social anxiety and it affects both introverts and extroverts,” says Eure.

“Introversion is not anti-social, is not “curable” because it is not a disease. It isn’t a choice. It is not right. It’s not wrong. It is just who you are. And it doesn’t disqualify you from being a good leader. We have found that introverts are phenomenal leaders. All of us have our strengths and all of us have our weaknesses,” he adds. 

Quiet, Introvert in the House

Do you find that you often need to retreat to a quiet space to concentrate, reflect, or rest? You don’t like to rush decisions, are comfortable when alone, and prefer to write rather than talk?

If some of these traits sound like you, congratulations! You are more than likely an introvert. You have a unique self-awareness. Use that and these tips to help you be the best communicator and leader you can be. 

4 Tips to Help Introverts Manage Themselves, Meetings, and Others*

#1) Own who you are.

Some may think extroverts are “natural” leaders but don’t try to be something you are not. Replace myths about leadership with truths. Be yourself, be authentic and be open and honest. This will build trust. Purposely surround yourself with people who complement your abilities and style. 

Bonus tip: Eure suggests checking out “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni.


#2) Become adept at facilitating meetings when introverts and extroverts are together.

Eure reports that extroverts often dominate meetings and speak without thinking. They think passion/words/volume proves their arguments. Facilitate meetings with that in mind. Ask questions and speak up last. Draw out comments from other introverts and let them know ahead of time that you will seek their input. Like you, they want to have time to think about how they will answer.

Bonus tip: Set ground rules or Rules of Engagement for your meetings to ensure a safe space.


#3) Clearly define roles, expectations, values, and processes.

 The best way to manage introverts and extroverts is by clearly defining roles, expectations, and core values. Schedule regular feedback sessions that are clear, consistent, caring, candid, and challenging. Create and strictly follow processes for everyone. Understand extrovert traits so that you are not put off by them and can lead them in the most effective way.

 Bonus tip: Eure likes the Radical Candor approach.


#4) Understand the dynamics of communicating with an extroverted salesperson. 

 Eure reports that extroverts, especially salespersons, need to understand how their actions affect others. Keep in mind they can have sporadic listening skills. Document conversation details when appropriate and have them commit to modes of action and hold them accountable. Be able to read the body language for approval or disapproval, and praise them for their achievements. 

Measurement is Key for Continued Development

Many CEOs find that hiring a consulting firm to assess their team’s personal behavior styles can be a gateway toward a strong team dynamic. While you are at it, consider engaging that firm to help establish your company’s own set of Meeting Rules of Engagement — one that balances the needs of extroverts and introverts alike. 

Heartfelt thanks to Brad and Clay Eure of Eure Consulting for their assistance with this article.

*Source: “How to Lead As An Introvert”, 2021 presentation by Brad and Clay Eure, Eure Consulting.

Posted by Staff at 2:57 pm
Tuesday, January 26, 2021

How to Be a Better CEO in 2021

Last year at this time, I asked the members in my peer roundtable “What are your professional development plans for next year?” I was shocked when two of these CEOs said that they had done all that stuff, that they were within 5 years of exiting, and that they really didn’t see a need for it. It seemed like they had decided to just coast to the finish line of their careers.

Maybe when I am closer to retirement, I will have that attitude, but I hope not. I believe that there is unlimited potential for growth, and that if I am to be the leader my organization needs and deserves, I need to work on myself continually.

I think I am a pretty good CEO. So, what’s wrong with being the same kind of CEO again next year? Well, are my competitors sitting still or getting better? Is the pace of change in business and society slowing down? I don’t think so. If I am to lead my business to compete and thrive amidst rapid change and the unexpected (pandemic, anyone?) I must continue to learn and grow.

So I encourage you, my fellow CEOs, to make a decision about how you will grow as a leader in 2021. The options are endless. You could take a class, join a book club, retain a coach, or join a peer roundtable.

Be a better CEO in 2021. Make a decision now on how you will learn and grow.

About the Author

Scot McRoberts is the executive director of the VA Council of CEOs (VACEOs). One of the original co-founders, he has led the organization’s growth from 20 members in 2000 to more than 200 today. Utilizing a best practice model for the Council’s CEO roundtables and a dogged focus on its core purpose of connecting CEOs for the purpose of sharing experiences, McRoberts has developed an association that boasts 90% retention. Before coming to VACEOs, Scot was a senior executive at the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, where he led business councils, small business programs, and business retention efforts.

Posted by Staff at 2:42 pm
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Top 7 Posts of 2019

JJ White Profile

Each month we work hard to bring you content of interest to you and news you can use. From tactical takeaways to strategic planning to CEO profiles that intrigue, here are the most-read stories of the year. 

What kind of content would you like to see posted to More CEOs profiles? More business tips? Is there a specific topic you would like covered? Please, let us know! 


COLAB President Steps Away and Into Innovation (Video+)(#1)

For Eddie O’Leary, president of COLAB, one of the best business decisions he’s ever made was to step away from it.


Here’s how the other most-viewed posts faired.


 JJ White on His calling, His Podcast and His Plan to Shape VACEOs

JJ White opens up from his podcast studio about his business and his plans to shape the Council during his tenure as Chair.


number six storyHow to Best Leverage Your Managed Services Provider
by Warren Whitney (VACEOs Sponsor)(#6)

Here are the 6 key questions to ask when assessing your MSP relationships or when evaluating a new one.


#5 story3 Ways to Manage Stress as a CEO
by Partner MD (VACEOs Sponsor)(#5)

Running a business can be extremely stressful. Here are 3 steps to help you manage the unique stressors you face.


#4 storyVA Council of CEOs Names Arlene Lee Third Recipient
of Charles E. McCabe Leadership Award 

We are pleased to announce that Arlene Lee, President of R.E. Lee Companies (Charlottesville) has been awarded the Charles E. McCabe Leadership Award.


#3 story

How to Calculate the Value of Your Business
by Transact Capital (VACEOs Sponsor)(#3)

A company’s worth is impacted by any decisions that boost its EBITDA or reduces perceived risk to the buyer. Here’s how to calculate your earnings.


#2 story

Fueled for Success: Q&A with Tiger Fuel President Gordon Sutton

With an employee count topping 270, Tiger Fuel is a successful, large-scale operation. What fuels this company’s success? President Gordon Sutton shares all.


#1 post in 2019COLAB President Steps Away and Into Innovation (Video+)(#1)

For Eddie O’Leary, president of COLAB, one of the best business decisions he’s ever made was to step away from it.

Posted by Staff at 1:23 pm
Monday, September 23, 2019

How to Know If a Fractional CFO Is Right for Your Business

You are the CEO of a growing business. Do you need to:

  • Spend more time in areas of the business where you add the most value?
  • Maximize cash?
  • Add an operational finance perspective to your team?
  • Update your strategic plan?
  • Raise capital to grow your business?
  • Add a trusted advisor to your executive team?
  • Develop an exit strategy for your business?
  • If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it could be time to get an experienced CFO on your team.

You may have thought about hiring a full-time CFO but held off given cost. Or perhaps you were concerned that you do not have enough work to keep a full-time CFO challenged. There is an alternative: You can engage an experienced CFO on a part-time or project basis.

By hiring a fractional CFO, you’re instantly gaining access to all the knowledge, experience and lessons learned by this CFO over a career.  All at a significant cost savings to you.

Jay Nathanson, COO of Image Group, found it to be “a very, efficient way to use expertise.” Adding, “It really became a great opportunity for me to be able to grow the business without making the investments of full-time people.”

Building on my 35 years of experience, including serving as a full-time CFO for six companies and as a fractional CFO for others, I share several scenarios which describe situations where a fractional CFO might be able to help you.


Scenario #1: You Need to Spend More Time in Areas Where You Add the Most Value
If you’re spending more time in planning and forecasting, contract negotiations and interactions with investors, and less time with customers, in strategy development and in other areas where you excel, it’s time to engage a seasoned CFO. This executive will free you up, enabling you to add greater value to the business.

Scenario #2: You Need to Maximize Cash
You understand that cash is king.  You need the ability to forecast future performance, staying on top of cash forecasts, debt covenants, receivables and payables.  You also need creativity in the use of bank and other kinds of debt. An experienced CFO can help you maximize cash at the lowest cost.

Scenario #3: You Need an Operational Finance Perspective
You are getting accurate historical financial information; however, you are not getting meaningful analysis and insights from such information to drive your business forward. The right CFO will bring significant operational finance experience to the business, enabling you to fully understand historical performance, get the right metrics in place and more.

Scenario #4: You Need to Update Your Strategic Plan
As your business grows, there are many places where you can invest limited resources:  sales and marketing, product development, customer success and more. To get the best return requires an understanding of customer issues, customer and product profitability, the competitive landscape and more.  An experienced CFO can link financials and strategy, helping develop a plan which will increase your odds of success.

Scenario #5: You Need Capital to Grow Your Business
To execute your plan, you need to invest more in sales and marketing, customer success and new product development. This requires additional capital. Engaging a CFO skilled in raising capital will help you negotiate the best deal, minimizing dilution.

Scenario #6: You Need a Trusted Advisor
As the business grows, you are encountering a range of issues and questions, from personnel (e.g., what incentive program is right?) to tax (e.g., do I have sales or use tax exposure?). You need someone on your team with significant experience across many businesses and circumstances, someone who understands and has been around different C-Suite roles. Engaging an experienced CFO will help you get to the right answer quickly.

Scenario #7: You Need an Exit Strategy
Positioning your business for sale is not cut and dry. If you’re considering a sale in the next few years, now is the time to prepare. To get the most value, you need the advice of a CFO skilled in buying and selling companies.

About the Author
Bobby Jenkins, Managing Director, Fahrenheit Advisors (Charlottesville), is an accomplished executive with 35 years’ experience and a demonstrated track record in diverse businesses and circumstances. Working with public and private companies, large and small, he has played a key role in increasing equity value for stakeholders. His experience and skills position him well now to add value to Fahrenheit clients, particularly in engagements related to business planning, capital raises, performance management and restructuring.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Image and content provided by Fahrenheit Advisors. This post article was originally posted here. Fahrenheit Advisors is a Sponsor of Virginia Council of CEOs.

Posted by Staff at 4:34 pm
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