Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog

Changes – Going from SEO Chess to CEO Chess.

From SEO to CEO.

I didn’t ask to be a CEO, it was thrust upon me almost 4 years ago….and for years, I considered myself a SEO first, and a CEO second.  That’s what got me to where I am today….but lately I’ve reversed that line of thinking. I’m an CEO with people and plans first, and am still a pretty die hard SEO as well.

The past few weeks I’ve read most parts of:
The Enthusiastic Employee

Good to Great

First, Break all the rules

True leaders

The top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make

If I were to recommend 1, it’s be “Good to Great by Jim Collins“.

My short Review  of “Good to Great” in the middle of my post:

Jim had a large research team that tracked around 25 companies that they found had made great leaps in profits above and beyond the industry standard. These companies also had to maintain this great growth over at least a 15 year period. They then analyzed these companies compared to their competitors to see what the companies did differently to make this “leap”.

A large part of the conclusions that they drew were that these companies first got “the right people on the bus” (hired the right people, and put them in the right place in the company), then these people would “drive the bus”….and by that he means that once you’ve got the right people on board, then the company will move in a direction that they bring it…and that these companies competitors often were run by “level 4” CEO’s (Today I’m a “level” 4, working on getting to a 5….but then again I’m not looking at a 15 year run at the moment…there’s no online company that’s been online for 15 years (since 1991?)

I’ve also enjoyed a prior book by Jim Collins called Built to Last.

Do you have a book about “leadership” or running a company that you recommend?

But back to the original thought of going from SEO to CEO….I’ve sure made some mistakes in my days of being a CEO, but I’ve also had some great successes (and often been lucky), and if I can multiply the success and keep the current quality (my goals), I’ll be a pretty happy guy. Not to mention we not only work with clients, but are proud of the old gems we’re getting 😉 .

We’re profitable, and I’m with my tightest and talented team to date, so I’m in a nice position at the moment. I’ve also been hiring more future link ninjas and training them to help us grow. I’m also working with future leaders here.  

It’s a lot……but ya know…since I’ve always enjoyed it, it’s a game for me….but it’s not as much a game of SEO chess for me anymore, it’s a game of CEO Chess right now…. I’m getting the right pieces on my team, in the right places, and playing this game as best I can.

Anyone else out there a CEO?


17 Responses

  1. My CEO actually made “Good to Great” required reading at our company. Easy read, good ideas. Now we’re trying to figure out exactly what our Hedgehog Concept is…

    (funny thing is, my granny always used to leave some milk out for the hedgehogs on a night, well really for the cat, but the hedgehogs would snuffle up and drink it once the lights were out).

    As far as book recommendations, I rather like “Churchill on Leadership” by Steven F. Hayward. It goes through his failures and mis-steps on the way to his eventual success (and bounce back from his election loss at the end of the war). The quotes used are not the more popular ones, and each chapter has several lessons around particular topics.

  2. Simon, nice, I’m a big Churchill fan myself, so that book will definately be the next book I grab from amazon – thanks for the idea.

  3. Jim, a great quick & free report to read is Internet Business Manifesto by Internet Marketer Rich Schefren. Rich is the “real deal” when it comes to making money online and knows the differences between obtaining skills that can make you money and building leverage that can make you wealthy. I honestly can’t think of a better read for going from SEO to CEO. It has nothing to do about SEO but it has everything about the transition that most of us “in the business” need to make to go to the next level.

    A few other great reads are:
    QBQ by Mark Miller and Rich Dad Poor Dad & CASHFLOW Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki.

  4. My only advice would be not to get an “ivory tower” complex going. If you ultimately end up sitting behind a closed door on the phone and can’t talk to your employees in a timely manner there will be a divisiveness of “us vs. them” that starts to grow. Approachability it a key factor and rolling up your sleeves now and then and pitching in never hurts either to keep morale up so they don’t think you’re a corporate boat anchor that’s out of touch with the business.

    The real key, IMO, is giving people empowerment to do their jobs without being micromanaged and let them know when approval is needed vs when they should just deal with the situation on their own. The more you can empower each individual, the stronger your overall organization as people start to take pride in ownership as they have some decision making responsibilities.

    The flipside is the easiest way to fail is to try to micromanage everything going on, control freaks make good SEOs but don’t make good CEOs.

    If you trust your team, the more you teach them of what you know, and nurture their skills, and mentor the group, the stronger the team will be and you’ll be a great CEO.

    Good luck Jim 😉

  5. Don’t blame yourself for mistakes. The only man doesn’t make mistake, who never does anything. It’s my promo

  6. IncrediBill – My thoughts exactly, as I’ve been there, done that….or some how ended up in that role. Thankfully that’s over and I’m knee deep in training every day now (which is a role I highly enjoy – and believe I’m very effective in). I love training, and I also love managing, and I also love being a CEO, and being a SEO, and “sales” which I highly enjoy.
    It’s these 5 roles that I’ve given different weight to over the years.
    Today these are my priorties:
    1. Training
    2. Managing/Leading Team
    3. Managing Company (CEO)
    4. Being a SEO
    5. Sales

  7. I compiled this reading list based on discussions with collegues and other CEOs:

    Selling the Invisible
    Patrick Lenconi – 5 temptations of a CEO in general (good site)
    Built to Last
    Rockefeller Habbits

    That’s enough for now!

  8. Jim,

    You’re going to do a super job–there’s no doubt about that. To me the biggest difference between a “level 4” leader & a “level 5” leader was the humility component–a leader who simply acts & enacts rather than preaching & showboating. To a large extent, you’ve proven that point several times with your reluctance to talk about your own sites, development of exclusive in-house tools, etc. Keep doing that solid work and your team will only get better by rallying behind you.

    As for reading, there is one that is a no-brainer. A friend introduced me to this book long ago and I never forgot about it. The author was a driving force behind a Yahoo incubator in the mid-90’s as well as a leader in the creation of strategic partnerships between companies that would just “gel” really well together. Ok, enough of a preamble:

    Love is a Killer App by Tim Sanders. Absolutely a must-read. Don’t buy it–I’ll send it to you (and you’ll see why after you read the book!)



  9. Jim,

    One thing I forgot to mention is one of the most overwhelmingly successful companies I ever worked for had quarterly meetings on a SATURDAY of all times, from 9-12.

    Everyone from the janitor to the CEO gave a brief presentation basically stating their achievements since the last meeting, what they were currently working on, and what their goals were for the next 1 or 2 quarters. It gave everyone accountability in front of the whole company and the CEO and sales people put actual numbers on the screen with the threat of DEATH if anyone leaked this proprietary and confidential information.

    At first everyone bitched and moaned about having to waste time working on a small presentation, wasting a weekend day, etc. but after a couple of meetings the entire company started to see how the entire team worked together as a unit. You would notice how EVERYONE started to get vocal when weaklinks were uncovered as there was no hiding from the facts but the flipside was the overall enthusiasm from the group when we hit or exceeded the sales projections with everyone behind it.

    In our case, we grew stronger by the month as everyone was doing everything to make the sales jobs as easy and efficient as possible. More customer issues hindering sales that were easily solved most of the time came out of these group meetings than anything else. We didn’t drill into details at the time and derail the debriefing, but new agenda items were set to resolve before the next quarter.

    Don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, but it definitely stops the complaining that nobody knows what’s going on.

    It was fantastic unless you partied too hard on Friday night…

  10. Jim, you’re going through same thing as me!

    I really liked “The E-Myth Revisited” and plan to try to base my company around it as much as possible over time.

  11. Jill, Good Call. I’ve read “The E-myth Revisited” 2 1/2 times over the past 2 years. It’s a favorite.

    Thanks for stopping by Jill – I always appreciate views from the Queen of SEO :). I’d love to get you to stop by our offices some time! (we’re not too far!)

  12. Hi Jim,
    I would also recommend reading “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, Charles Burck. Excellent resource explaining how strategic plans need reflect the real world and link to operational plans. It also discusses ideas and certain instances of separation from successful ideas/actions from failured one.

    “Motivating Employees” is also a good read, by Anne Bruce & James S. Pepitone. Great topics including motivating small groups (teams) of employees, which should be right up your alley 🙂

  13. Great post Jim (and the other comments here). I’m really liking your CEO posts – sometimes feels like you’re hanging out there on your own in this position! Good to know others have the same concerns and issues.

    As far as reading goes, I’m still on the basics (One Minute Manager/Getting Things Done etc. ) I’ll be checking the others mentioned here.

    My biggest problem is knowing where to spend my time. My team like having me on call for them (ad hoc training etc) but equally I need to get my head down to write quotes/documents. Time management is helping there (GTD) and finding the right people to take roles off my hands (then supporting them).

    Regular wednesday meetings with full disclosure have worked very well for us. Using the GTD mentality – you need to get that 12000 ft view of everyone’s progress.

  14. Nick, I hear ya there! Since going into my office with the others for the past month (as opposed to working from home) I can’t figure out where all my time goes. I’m certainly busy (can’t even post on my forum!), but it feels like I’m not getting any “real” work done.

    I have to come home and work at night and on the weekends to do all the regular work. I guess management itself is a full time job. Fun and interesting, but a LOT of work! (You just don’t see any tangible results…other than those that the employees produce.)

  15. Spot on Jill. That feeling made me go off and read ‘Getting Things Done’ (and ‘Ready for Anything’ also by David Allen and even better IMO). I couldn’t find any extra hours in the day so I wanted to find ways to be more productive and in control (as possible in this job!). Now I know which task I should be doing – and not just reacting to the person shouting the loudest!

    Still it feels like luxury in the office on the Saturday when I can stick my headphones on choose to finish an entire task uninterrupted 😉

    I’ve just ordered a few of the books mentioned here, including The E-myth Revisited – thanks. I hope they were affiliate links you put up Jim LOL.

  16. Thanks for the thread Jim. I’m always on the lookout for some good CEO books. I hadn’t heard about a lot of these.

    It’s nice to see some others in the same boat.

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