What are the top three things you would have started learning about earlier now that you are a CEO?I consulted for Royal Dutch Shell, and among the skills they nurtured in senior managers is Building Shared Vision. It is a given that they are smart, visionary and creative, but their challenge is how to get others to believe and see what they believe and see. This is an essence of what Ghosn emphasizes, but she adds a vital point: Small deviations in the direction that people are taking early on can veer into larger misalignment later on. I wouldn't advise that everyone be exactly on the same page, but to her point everyone does have to be reading the same playbook. So communication is crucial indeed.
As a CEO, you need to find and attain talent to accomplish your vision. Your job as a CEO is to make sure you can communicate that vision well. Caroline Ghosn, Co-founder and CEO of Levo League argues, that communication is a big part of learning to become a CEO. Then, work on managing your own energy as a CEO.
When you were starting out, did you have moments of doubt and lack of confidence or did you always believe in your vision and that it would work out?We have our lapses in confidence and we have our moments of doubt. That's quite normal, as we're all only human. A truly fine point from Ghosn. In general, we must do what we need to do to weather these lapses and moments, understand and learn from them, and keep moving forward. Like life, business leadership is neither a straight line or a flat plane. It's a rolling wave that has its crests and troughs. Having the right people around is crucial, as is an ability to self-regulate thought, mood and behavior.
"I'm never caught up to where my vision is, ever." You're constantly in a state of growth and stretching as an entrepreneur. Don't forget to celebrate when you reach certain goals and embrace those critical moments. However, don't let them stop you.
As someone who is also engaged in developing emerging female leaders, how do you respond to critiques that as a Millennial and first-time founder, "who are you" to be dishing out leadership advice?
Use being a millennial leader as an advantage. You as a Gen-Y [millennial] talent you are listening to what is going on around you and translating it into good.Millennials - those born in 1980 and after - are a veritable force in business, culture, and society at large. They literally grew up in this fast-paced, highly-connected world, and they can school the rest of us in navigating it effectively. So whether we're of this generation, or another generation, it is a good idea for us to understand what makes them tick. As a matter of fact, in general, I work at listening to, and grasping, the Zeitgeist, as Ghosn calls, of all generations. I'm at the youngest edge among Baby Boomers, but when I took a short survey by Pew Research Center, I scored highly as a Millennial.
What were your personal takeaways from your time spent with Warren Buffett on Levo League's Office Hours both on and off camera?
Warren Buffett was recently on Levo League's Office Hours. Caroline's biggest takeaway from the conversation was to "Find your passion and really anchor on that." You'll be 82 years old and excited everyday you wake up.Over the course of time, particularly as I've progressed this revelation I call Theory of Algorithms and The Core Algorithm, I have to posit the centrality of mind. But our intellect, beliefs and vision must pay homage and respect to heart as well. If the heart is into something, that something will work out. If it is not, then it will not work out. Mind you, passion alone will not ensure success in anything, but I'm convinced that it's the foundation for gaining measures of success.
What's the most important thing to remember when finding a business mentor?
Find someone you can trust that will give you the most honest feedback that has experience to layer on to that. Caroline... shares that her best mentors are ones that speak to what is going on in your career rather than focusing on the stories of their past.In keeping with Ghosn's point, don't seek mentoring from anyone who is fundamentally self-absorbed or tone-deaf, as I call it. A young entrepreneur needs the wisdom, stories and guidance of a seasoned business person, but these offerings much be couched in a way that works for the young entrepreneur. In other words, to be helpful, the mentor must tune into, grasp, and take into account, the aims and priorities as well as the issues and doubts of the person he or she is mentoring.
What the process like from initial pitch to launch for Levo League?It is very good to hear what Ghosn and her co-founder went through with Levo League: essentially, staying underwater for as long as you need to, and surfacing only when - to stay with this metaphor - you've built a working amphibious vehicle. However, this is just one route to entrepreneurship. So weigh how Levo League came about, extract lessons learned, then adapt accordingly to suit your purpose, style and circumstance. You may end up discovering your process and formulating your approach.
First of all, have a clear plan of what you want to do and what market need you will satisfy before you go out to get investors to rally around your idea.
Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!
Ron Villejo, PhD