Half a decade of being CEO

When did I start paying myself?

This is another question from the Amcham event (there were lots of questions that night). I giggled with this question. I have now been in this job for half a decade and it is not like any other I?ve ever had.

How does a CEO get a performance evaluation, how do we know if we are doing a good job? How do we know how much better we could be? This is easier in a larger organization when the CEO is accountable to a board.

One of the greatest lessons in leadership is from the children?s story ? the Emperors New Clothes. Remember the Emperor was so disconnected from his subjects that no one dared tell him that he was actually naked as he pranced the streets.

What I learned from that story is creating an environment of contribution. But does that mean people actually tell it how it is? How many open door policies do you know of which are never taken up on in an authentic and meaningful way?

I started paying myself a tiny stipend about eight months into the project?(I had other income from my freelance marketing group whilst RedBalloon Days was in its real infancy). It took another two years to have a salary. I don?t pay my self what I did earn in corporate life (which I left 10 years ago). But it is slightly different when you are building something for the future ? rather than taking what you can get in the moment.

For me it is not about the money ? it is about changing gifting forever so that people don?t get given crap gifts that they then recycle.. My real sense of value comes from listening to the team, customers, suppliers, distributors, hearing the impact I?ve had and the ongoing opportunity to learn from them. Now that is priceless.

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