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Is CEO a Dirty Word?

Before I wholly embraced the title for the new service I wanted to offer, CEO Mindset Mentoring,  I actually googled the phrase “Is CEO a dirty word.”

I did this as I work with business owners who either “escaped” corporate under their own steam or were “liberated” from their corporate jobs during the Great Recession – some of whom bristle at the mention of anything “corporate” – like CEO, COO, CFO or any other C-Suite executive title. So I wanted to be sensitive to their desire to set themselves apart from their corporate experience; and, I think it goes without saying that the title of CEO has unfortunately become synonymous with greed and incompetence and I did not want them to shy away from the meaning behind CEO Mindset Mentoring.

While I didn’t find anything that affirmed that CEO is a “dirty word” per se, I did come across a video of a panel of speakers titled, CEO: How Will It Stop Being a Dirty Word, given by the Milken Institute at their 2009 Global Conference in which they addressed how CEOs could change and become more effective, more mindful leaders encouraging increased innovation and growth from their employees.

The issues raised in this 2009 video, were echoed again with another panel of CEO’s at a recent ATDSCC meeting.  While some CEOs and upper management are transforming how they think and interact with their employees, the majority are still plagued with issues of how to encourage innovation and growth with among employees – young and seasoned alike! (But that is a topic I will cover in another blog post.)


A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is essentially the individual that oversees the guidance of an organization ensuring that the product or services delivered are of relevance, of value.

Can we say that a small business owner or a solopreneur is a CEO?


I love empowering business owners to be the CEO of their company. Stepping strongly into that role, encouraging growth and innovation by following the principles of the 3 S’s of Success. Having confidence that they know how their company will grow and can weather any curve ball that gets thrown its way because they have solid strategy, systems and support in place.

So, throw away that old, tired image of yesteryear’s CEO (you know, of old men sitting around a board room, smoking cigars and drinking single malt with the “us” vs. “them” attitude) – and embrace today’s more progressive, team and leadership oriented CEO model.


A couple of month’s ago, I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon hosted by Westfair publications in which John Bassett III, Chairman of Bassett Furniture and author of Making It In America, was the guest speaker. When asked to give examples of what makes a strong leader or sets up strong leadership within a company, he gave several examples – however theses are my top 3:

  • “To get loyalty, you have to give loyalty…”
  • “Be the change, not just respond to it…”
  • “People matter more…”

It has been my experience, that a GREAT CEO:

  • Is the visionary of their organization
  • Has a strategic plan to guide and hold steady the direction of their company
  • Surrounds themselves with professionals who can expertly execute initiatives outlined in the strategic plan and creatively solve problems
  • Removes their ego from the equation
  • Listens to advice and direction from inside and outside their organization
  • Knows who their employees are – characteristically (i.e., what motivates + engages them) and leads by example eliminating the “us + them” gap
  • Are calm, centered, focused, confident and decisive


Embrace the CEO Mindset.

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