Motion Sickness: Lessons from a First-Time CEO

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Early on at 3Pillar, I was lucky to experience year after year of explosive growth. It became easy to assume to that, as a company, we could accomplish anything, anything at all.

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We struck out in 2011 to accomplish absolutely everything under the sun. We planned two different acquisitions, were in the midst of refinancing our debt, and looked at all sorts of strategic initiatives. We were pursuing new markets, expanding geographically, and doing all sorts of different things that we felt would propel us forward.

We had a naive confidence that we would be able to execute all of these things at the same time. But we couldn’t.

We simply failed to reach all of our objectives.

It wasn’t that we couldn’t. The reason was that there just wasn’t enough time in the day to focus on each one and do them well.  The business became sick.  We were trying to do too much, and couldn’t digest any of it.

I call this motion sickness.

An organization can get sick and green in the face from trying to do everything at once. They can run in perpetual circles, trying to do all sorts of good strategic initiatives all at the same time.

I strongly recommend to young entrepreneurs that they focus on doing only one or two things very well, especially when it comes to strategic initiatives.

Focus on making sure that you prioritize one aspect at a time, turning your boat only in one direction. Don’t try to do everything at the same time. If you do, your ship will start to rock and your entire crew will get motion sickness.

You also have to make sure you have the right team on board. It’s easy to underestimate what it will take to undergo certain strategic initiatives. When you have the right team in place and ensure clear roles and responsibilities, you’ll have the right structure in place to support the initiatives you’re undertaking.

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