Catchy headline, eh?
I guess I learned a thing or two during my 10-year run as a partner at Copyblogger. Magnetic headlines matter—remember that.
Before my tenure at Copyblogger, I was considered the top dog at StudioPress. Though I never called myself a CEO, I was. I was the founder of the company and made all of the—shall I say—executive decisions.
When you are in charge of a business, life can be bittersweet. I learned that with the good comes the bad, and success comes with responsibility.
For the most part, I enjoyed that role. The first few years of StudioPress included many learning experiences, a fair amount of growth, and an opportunity to take things to the next level. Hence my decision to merge into Copyblogger.
When we formed the company, I relinquished my role as the alpha dog. At that point, I was convinced that it was time to transition into being a role player, even though I was still a partner and Chief Product Officer.
Two years ago, we sold StudioPress. It was the culmination of years of hard work and felt like the natural path for both the products and the community. I have no regrets and am thrilled that the promises made are being fulfilled.
Since the acquisition, I have spent most of my time and energy in the proverbial wilderness. I searched to figure out what I wanted to do next, so I involved myself in several projects. It was, after all, part of the plan.
I have learned quite a bit about myself during this particular season of life. Some things aren’t necessarily “news” to me, but it’s good to be reminded of the skills I have what I bring to the table.
What I do know is this: I am ready to embrace the roll of becoming a CEO (again). I am looking forward to the challenges of starting a business and creating something of value.
And I did just that, as I recently started a new company called Agent Engine.
Here are three things I know to be true if I want to achieve success in the process of becoming CEO again. (And they might be true of you as well.)
1. I need to become a CEO who designs and not a designer who CEOs.
“To change your life, you need to change your priorities.” —Mark Twain
Over the years, I have embraced my passion for minimalist design and loved calling myself a creator. I boxed myself into a corner of being just that—a creator. And it became a self-fulfilling prophecy that I longed to escape.
Having a modest runway of cash due to the sale of StudioPress, my priorities were to “take time for myself” and “do creative stuff.” But financial runways dry up quicker than you expect and I knew whatever I did next would require time.
For me, being creative is safe. But I want to change the current trajectory of my life, which means it’s time to step up and have the courage to do it again—which I know I’m perfectly capable of doing.
After all, I need to ensure my family’s long-term well-being, which ultimately means that my priorities need to change.
2. Singular focus is the only way this is going to work.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” —Zig Ziglar
Yes, it’s the whole idea of jack of all trades, master of none. While this might not necessarily be true of all people, it is with me. And I know it.
It helps to be keenly aware of how you are wired and understand what your tendencies are. I have always told people, “For me, it’s usually never about discernment, it’s about obedience.”
With that said, there is no other avenue—aside from singular focus—that will work for me. So I have also begun the process of selling domains, closing down projects, and removing myself from other endeavors.
It feels refreshing, actually, and I look forward to waking up each day with one lane to drive down, and not a freeway full of chaos. Now I need to figure out which car to buy, commit to the process, and make things happen.
3. The journey is the reward.
“It’s not about standing on the highest peak or not about the descent. It’s really—the journey, the emotions, the people you meet along the way—truly is, the journey is the reward.” —Jeremey Jones, Founder of Teton Gravity Research
As a skier and someone who loves to be in the mountains, this has a double meaning. While ubiquitous, these words also were spoken by someone I admire in a film that I thoroughly enjoyed.
For context, watch below. Don’t worry; it’s not long:
I am a fan of authenticity and believe external circumstances build character—especially when our desires and beliefs are challenged beyond our control.
I look back at my StudioPress journey and can see several instances in which those challenges arose. Some of those situations were hard to work through, but I feel like I learned valuable lessons along the way.
As I embark upon the adventure of becoming a CEO, I look forward to trying new things, meeting new people, and experiencing, once again, the reward.