28. 5 CEO Goals to Finish Big

Bo Burlingham of Inc. Magazine wrote the book: Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top. He distilled his CEO survey results into these five general goals:

  1. Be treated fairly during your exit process.
  2. Have a sense of legacy accomplishment. The world is better for your fun work invested.
  3. Be at peace with what happens to those who helped you build the firm.
  4. Have new things to do that you are looking forward to.
  5. The company will continue to thrive (even better) without you.

But what pre-requisite skills must you to achieve these goals?

Stewardship, Management and Leadership Attributes:

Stewardship: A moral determination to “leave things better than you found it” – for all stakeholders. Custodians and maintainers will fall short.

Management: Financial and operational efficiencies. Continuously fine-tune everyone’s understanding of:

  • This is the game we play (assuming a slowly evolving ecosystem).
  • This is Our Way of winning the game we are in.
  • “Change” is honestly fine-tuning adaptations of what we know and do.
  • Financial management and selling more was often sufficient when the US economy had economic tailwinds from 1948 to recent times. Now, all first-world countries have headwinds, and increasing change overwhelms management incrementalism.  You will need innovation, which also requires leadership.


  • See change early and envision new ways to exploit it.
  • Find untapped customer needs for which you can invent profitable solutions.
  • Deal with the fear these changes will spark amongst the troops.

If a new idea isn’t confusing and scary, then it isn’t new. New lipstick on old pigs is “fake-new” that everyone gets and likes. But, novel incrementalism won’t move the needles for profit and free cash-flow.

Do a “Core Renewal Program” for Big Gains in Profit and Free Cash-Flow

Change for 90% of distributors with weakest returns must start with curing losers to feed winners. In pursuit of any type of “more sales”, you accumulate unprofitable customers with more Business Cost than Gross Margin Dollars. Busi-Ness eats  profits, freecash and proactive people energy.

How to do a Core Renewal:

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