Let me start by saying this is not a post to deter you from running or starting your own company but more so it is aimed at destabilising the image often portrayed in the media than being a CEO is glamorous, it can be from time to time but more so it is a hard role and a long journey that is best to understand before you undertake it.
You are alone
First off as to the title, even with the brightest, most talented and supportive people around you, make no mistake, you are alone. Your company, your team, your investors all rely on you.
The weight of the world literally sits on your shoulders alone, whether it rises or falls 99% of the time, it will be dependent on the decisions you make. It is not a role for the faint-hearted or those who crack easily under pressure. You do not have to be the finished product when you start as a CEO but you do need the sheer will to battle against any and all odds to succeed.
It can be very boring
Your day to day work depending on the stage of your company will vary, but 90% of the role will be extremely boring, it’s only the people who have a real passion for what they’re doing who will be able to motivate themselves through boring and repetitive work towards a greater goal.
Once you have grown as well the work will increase in repetitiveness and systems will be needed, it then becomes your job to support these systems and lead your team further. If you have a short attention span and do not truly believe in what you’re creating, this role is not for you.
Life becomes your enemy
Be prepared to be overtaken by your role as your company starts, expands or even contracts, it will envelop every aspect of your life even if you manage it carefully, you will have to sacrifice heavily to do what you set out to do or beyond.
If you want a simple, easy or pain-free life, do not become a CEO. If you want a challenge, then it’s for you, but as per above make sure you have the resolve to see it through.
Every decision you make whether you know it now or not will have a ripple effect leading down a specific path. Usually, this ends up as multiple decisions that converge into one path you may not have seen before. Something as benign as a leasing agreement can lead to bankruptcy and something as crazy as flying to China to negotiate with an investor can propel you far beyond what you had dreamed.
Being an effective CEO requires you to be a grand chess master, you can’t be purely reactive, and you must think 12 moves ahead and plan for variables accordingly.
An unexpected journey
If I’ve discouraged you from becoming a CEO or starting a company, good. If you quit that easily, then this isn’t for you but if you’re still determined then just maybe you have what it takes. My role has lead me across three continents, pushed me to build intelligent machines and on occasion ended in drunken nights with billionaires, but above all it has been an unexpected and crazy journey so far, even with all the lows and the occasional highs I still would not trade it for the world, good luck!