We reorganized the company today. We brought in a new, interim CEO, who's not me. For many entrepreneurs, that is their worst nightmare.
But I couldn't be happier. For one thing, it's a sign that my company, Brazen Careerist, is doing well. Remember when the company was running out of money and my electricity was getting turned off? There was no one worrying then that I was the wrong person for the CEO position. No one cared because it looked like we were going under.
But then the media started talking about how we could be LinkedIn for Gen Y and we started moving fast. I don't worry about of money anymore, and we are moving at a faster speed because we can see where we are going, how we'll make money, and how we'll grow the community.
1. Know where your strengths are.
The thing that makes me great is my writing. I have spent my whole life writing, constantly trying to figure out how to earn money writing. My favorite thing I've ever written is this blog. I adore the conversation, I adore the format, the never-ending research, and the self-referential links, because that's how my mind works: connecting random stuff together all the time trying to figure out the best path to happiness. Blogging is my dream-come-true media.
But I also love building companies. So I was in heaven for two years turning my blog brand into a social networking company.
I am great in that phase of a business–thinking, philosophizing, finding holes in markets, finding holes in ideas. I never give up. I always have another idea, and I don't mind feeling lost day after day, week after week.
2. Watch where you gravitate.
But now the company needs to run fast, to execute a model we have confidence in. I am not fast at execution—I do not keep ten thousand things in my head at one time. Here's a good example: I flew to DC to talk with investors and had about five hours to retool our presentation to incorporate a new marketing plan. I spent two of those hours writing a blog post.
And the more responsibility I had for running a large team, trying to hit many goals at once, the less work I did. Honestly, I just didn't know what to do. I was outside my core strength.
And I know this: the first sign that you are outside of your strengths is when you can't make yourself do the work you need to do.
3. Find people who complement your strengths.
To get out of germination mode and reach our launch, I needed to surround myself with people with complimentary skills. I spent two years looking for business partners before I found Ryan Healy and Ryan Paugh. The way I knew it was a good fit is that as soon as I suggested we partner, they said yes, and then had a million ideas of their own.
Then, when the company was stuck financially, I found a new board member who runs a company with $150 million in revenue. He met with me every week for six months to help me focus on cash flow.
When the company was clearly moving too fast for me to keep up as CEO, I badgered another board member to be CEO. He told me a number of reasons why that wouldn't work — he had had two huge exits and he wasn't planning to be CEO again, and another company wanted him to be CEO, and he wants to watch his kids play football. These are all good reasons that I overcame, and I got him to agree to be interim CEO.
Most of all, I am certain I'm right about Brazen Careerist. LinkedIn is a place to display your network, not build your network. Facebook is too personal to use as a platform for managing your professional life. The way to build your network is through conversation, and Brazen Careerist is a great tool for that network-building conversation that gets you control over your career. (And hey, you should sign up!) I can talk about this all day.
5. If you really can do the job, you'll be doing it already.
Recently, I did a live chat on the Washington Post web site, answering fifty questions in sixty minutes about how to use social media to help your career.
The chat was fun, and people asked interesting questions. It was great exposure for Brazen Careerist. But during that hour I couldn't help wondering: Who is making sure we're hitting marketing numbers? Who is going to hire the new head of sales?
Now I have an answer: Ryan Healy.
In any office, employees gravitate to the job each should be doing, no matter what the titles are. Sometimes we gravitate to a job and it's not available, and we go nuts doing something we shouldn't be doing. Sometimes we gravitate to that job and it's such a good fit for us that we do it even without a title.
Ryan Healy has been running day-to-day operations of the company for a while now. Without the official authority. Because he's great at it. While I am thinking of ideas and philosophizing, Ryan is always asking, “What are we getting done?”
A lot of people say they should be doing a job they do not have the authority to do. Here's some news, though: You'd be doing it already if you were great at it. Ryan Healy is now Chief Operating Officer at Brazen Careerist because he's already shown he can do the job. That's how you get serious promotions: doing the job first, in an outstanding way.
Okay. So what you can expect from me is more blog posts, because when my blog traffic goes up, it's good for Brazen Careerist. And you can also expect to see less of me feeling frazzled and crazy and fighting with Ryan. Because I'm not anymore. I'm back in my sweet spot, and I feel so lucky to be here.