Five lessons that I'm learning with an 8,500 employee company CEO, that by the way, is my wife.
Ten years ago, we made a courageous decision to move from Brazil and start an international experience with our three kids. After almost six years in the USA, two years in England, and now living in The Netherlands. Saskia, my wife, is CEO of a large company here after years of hard work in different companies. I was a proud stay home dad who tried to keep up with family, learn languages, study, and start a new company, a completely different challenge from my previous "life." I'm a medical doctor with business experience. I did an MBA in the University of Minnesota, had the opportunity to work on large companies, and have more than ten years of experience in startups. Today, our startup EW2Health is scaling-up, and part of this initial success is because I'm applying five lessons (that I learn and live) from an 8,500 employee company CEO, that is my wife :)
1) "Costs are like grass you always need to be cutting,"
Startups don't have money to expend, period. And if it has is to speed up the lean startup process and listen even more to the clients. But the IT team, the marketing guys, the operation, the legal, everyone in the company needs more money to improve what they are doing. But they need to do what they are doing? That comes to the second lesson.
2) "Laser focus on your strategy."
The startup's goal is to reach their goals as soon as possible to prove to investors that they are worth their time and investments. But many times, these goals are revenues, and we start to focus on sales instead of aligning initial sales with the long term objectives. Of course, cash is king, and you cannot postpone revenues. Still, if your business plan is right, the initial clients need to buy and pay for the value you are creating; if you are changing so much, it is essential to reveal your strategy; otherwise, what you will achieve is not precisely what you are prepared. This lesson connects with the next lesson.
3) "Be brave with your team and don't let today small problems to be a future crisis."
It is not unusual to see my wife take an 11-hour flight for a two-day trip to support her team in dealing with a tough decision in the middle of these pandemic times. "I need to help them to solve a problem now before it is too late. " Well, at least kids an I can spend more time watching Marvel movies :)
In the startup world, we have small problems every day. In my opinion, these are the issues that entrepreneurs need to spend their energy on. Why are people not like our idea? Is a broad question, would your product run well? Are you MVP showing the experience that you want to offer, or is not working fine? Also, problems are related to people, so to solve problems means to talk very frankly and honestly with your team.
4) "Always check your list of to-dos for today, tomorrow, and this week"
In the list of most important things about my wife's life before Lara, Luca, and Alexia (our kids), I'm competing with her notebook. And pretty sure some days I'm behind the notebook and Lola (our Border Collie), but I know that I'm top 10 :)
She updates the to-do list at every meeting, on every email, and any other activity that she interacts with a source of information. So, she has a clear vision of the steps needs to deliver her work.
But what really amazes me is the fifth one.
5) Be a mom, be a person that you are.
She tells me that be a CEO and be a mom consumes different energies. Quite tricky to understand, but if she is very tired of her day, she doesn't make this feeling interfere with her mom's rule and vice-versa. This lady helps in our house, preparing dinners, taking care of laundry like an average person. "Why not? This is my personal life."
What to say? Just learn and apply ;)