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5 Things Every CEO Should Focus On

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Bio in a Tweet: Chairman and Co-CEO of a $750 million company, founded first company at age 14, by age 16, it was the largest of its kind in Eastern North Carolina.

Rich Balot: Part of the job is having those tough conversations and saying goodbye to people for the betterment of the overall company.

Key Insights:
Rich’s business almost went belly up when Verizon Wireless bought Alltel and the industry shifted to the iPhone. Rich’s company went from being Alltel’s largest agent to a nobody at Verizon. He turned it around by 1) hiring a CEO coach, 2) joining YPO, and 3) having a very supportive spouse.

Rich’s coach (Mark Moses) told Rich right away, “If you’re going to be a CEO, you have to act like a CEO.” And so they started working on the 5 key things every CEO should focus on.

Focus #1: Vision and direction of the company.
Rich started “to plan the future instead of letting the future just happen,” set a BHAG to reach $1 billion in revenue in 10 years (at $750 million now), and implemented a strategic planning process.

Focus #2: Cash.
Rich implemented a system to monitor 1) whether they’re making money and 2) whether they have money. As a result, they review profitability on a monthly basis and cash flow on a daily basis.

Focus #3: Right people in the right jobs.
Rich once hired the wrong CFO—the guy knew accounting but not “small-box specialty retailer accounting.” He compounded the mistake by not firing him soon enough. Now, Rich uses assessments, thoroughly checks references, interviews them over a multi-day period (for executive-level hires), looks at their prior patterns of success, and carefully screens for cultural fit.

Focus #4: Key relationships.
A key relationship is any person/company that can put you out of business or can help you significantly grow your business. Rich has approximately 30 key relationships (unusually large) and he stays in frequent contact with them.

Focus #5: A process for continuous learning.
Top entrepreneurs and CEOs continually improve their skills so their company doesn’t outgrow them. Rich has a CEO coach, attends YPO, and is a voracious reader.

Coaching Takeaways:
Get the absolutely best person for each job, pay them well, and if you make a wrong hire, “fire fast.” If you’re a CEO, act like one.

Implement the 5 things every CEO should focus on.

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