I just asked for a meeting with the CEO of a start-up I’ve invested in. The reason? I just got their half-year report and there’s no bad news! Andy, if you’re reading this, I’m talking about you.
Because we’re running a business here and there’s always bad news in a business. The only time there’s not bad news is when there is terrible news (the company just went out of business), or when there is amazingly, unbelievably, terrific news (the company just got bought by Google, here’s your check for $100 million). The rest of the time there is bad news. And the CEO’s job is to find it and fix it. And do it quickly so you can find more bad news, fix that, then rinse and repeat till Google buys the company and we all get checks for $100 million.
If I get a report that doesn’t mention the bad news, then either the CEO hasn’t found the problems or the CEO isn’t telling me about them (and probably isn’t asking for the help he needs to fix them quickly enough).
The thing that gives me the most confidence in a business owner or CEO is how they handle bad news and problems. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be upbeat. There was some legitimate good news in the half year report I just read. There’s always good news too (or you’re out of business). But a good CEO is upfront about the problems, is looking for the root causes (not just the quick fixes) and is putting together a plan to deal with them.
Andy, if you’re reading this, two things.