A well-dressed individual makes their way downtown in a black car. They can’t keep their eyes off their notification-flooded phone. They exchange some niceties with the driver, but silence seems to be the vibe for this particular car ride. They arrive at one of many tall buildings where their assistant is waiting with an iced Americano; no cream, no sugar. Life isn’t always sweet, but it is busy.
Their assistant runs through their schedule in excruciating detail as they walk into the elevator and press the “PH” button. When they get to the top floor, they amble through an already packed office and make their way to the corner of the floor. The assistant takes their place in their work station and the Americano-clad individual walks past the doors that read “CEO” and sits down. What goes on for the rest of the day is purely left up to your imagination.
C-suite professionals, and especially CEOs, are always shrouded in some level of mystery. All we really know is that they’re important, that they sit atop businesses and run them, and that they probably have flooded email inboxes. All of these details that we associate with them, and even the ridiculous ones from earlier, beg one big question: What the heck does a CEO do all day?
Running a Google search to figure that out seems fruitless, so why don’t we just powwow with AdPurp’s own CEO, Kyle Mitnick, and get to the bottom of this? I know you’re curious!
Oxford Dictionary defines the word CEO as “a chief executive officer” and “the highest-ranking person in a company or other institution,” but the word still eludes me. Help me demystify it. What’s your definition of a CEO? What does the word really mean to someone who is a CEO?
It’s a pretty vague job title, and the definition can change at the drop of a hat. But, my definition is this: The CEO is the company representative responsible for leading the organization to a destination that’s predetermined. Not only do the logistics of navigation need to be established by the CEO, but the ultimate destination needs to be ideated, conceptualized, and clearly identified. Once both destination and path are formalized, the CEO is then responsible for continually educating their crew on the why. The why, in my opinion, is the fuel to get the team to the destination.
Gotcha, so the CEO guides the team on the why. That’s a good macro overview of what a CEO does, but let’s zone in a bit more on the micro. With managers appointed in every department and everybody doing the work that they do, what does a CEO do?
Getting involved in a lot of meetings. Then, when those meetings are done, there are more. After years of trial and error, though, my schedule today is pretty well-balanced around three main things: Generating forecasts, reviewing results, and triage. In my early years as a company leader, it was easy to get lost in one of the three, which almost always led to issues with the others. Another one that comes up is schedule changes, and these not only include meetings with department heads, but also new hires. When it comes to making sure new team members are aligned with the why, some things can get lost in translation during instruction. So, part of my job as a CEO is to identify that, correct it, and do my best to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. And notice I said, ‘do my best’ instead of ‘ensure.’ Allowing yourself room for failure and change is very important in this position because no matter how good things are at any moment, the pendulum can swing the other direction at some point.
The meetings really do seem endless. And that kind of leads to my next question. How is a CEO consistently busy when they have an entire team working for them? Some would assume that their work gets alleviated in one way or another.
That’s a great question. I asked myself this in the early years and even took a backseat of daily involvement under the pretense of, “I’ll just let the department leaders lead!” However, I quickly realized why CEOs have a permanent place in the daily workflow. Part of it involved learning that even senior leaders need frequent connections with the singular vision of the company and the why. A company is truly an organic living and breathing entity with each day bringing unique challenges, adventures, and problems to solve. It’s naive to think that the one with the vision for success can just kick their feet up and assume others will take 130+ employees to the promised land.
Yeah, definitely, senior leaders are a vital asset to a company. Still, it wouldn’t make sense to rely solely on everyone else to guide an entire team through your vision and “the why.” It’s clear you realize the importance of your involvement as a CEO. That said, what kind of work, projects, or initiatives are you responsible for?
I work directly and indirectly with each department at Advertise Purple to create quarterly goals and clear paths to achieve those while providing assistance before, during, and after. In many cases, I’m the last line of defense when it comes to solving issues, approving budgets, and ensuring each team member has the right tools to get the job done.
We’re getting closer and closer to putting together this mental image of what a CEO is all about. Nice! One more question that might help tie everything together well is, why are CEOs necessary?
I think CEOs are needed to sustain a unified vision. Even the best managers have their own slight version of the why and the how. It’s actually quite interesting. But since day one, there are two things that each team member has in common: They want the company to succeed and they have an idea of how to modify current processes to do so. It’s the CEO’s job to make sure all players are on the same page.
Alright, let’s lighten the corporate load a little and talk about something more casual(ish). What does a day in the life of the CEO of Advertise Purple look like?
I try to get up early before my daughters and either hit the local trail for a run or finger through a few chapters of my book. I return to the house, slip into my chef’s attire, cook breakfast for the girls & assemble their lunches. The school bus (aka me) leaves the house around 7:30 am, and I’m back in action at 7:45 am. I fill up my coffee mug then jump into meetings. My calendar is usually booked out prior to the week beginning, so I have my day pretty nailed down with notes prepared from the previous evening. Whether I’m connecting with our legal team, department heads, or running training, I am spending all of my hours on the phone or Zoom. Lunchtime is early afternoon, which usually consists of kale, nuts, and olive oil. Then I’m back to meetings until around 3:30 pm when I move on to the final hour of my day and prepare for tomorrow’s meeting. At 4:30 pm, the chef hat returns, and I hit the kitchen for kid dinner duty!
It sounds like a healthy balance of family, kitchen duty, physical and mental exercise, and work meetings. That’s gotta feel good. Leaving things on a light note, or as light as we can get with the CEO talk, what do you believe makes for a good CEO?
That’s an easy one. I believe a good CEO is one that cares. Caring can be one of the most difficult things to do day in and day out. When a CEO truly cares about their team, the company vision, and everything else in between, though, they will move mountains to get sh&*t done.
I feel like we just uncovered one of the greatest corporate mysteries. Mission undoubtedly accomplished! Thank you, Kyle, for filling us in on CEO-ship. It was great to learn about your perspective on what it’s like to be a CEO, what you do day-to-day, and how you contribute to the efforts of your whole team. I hope this demystifies things a bit. If this post helped anyone get one step closer away from seeing CEOs in a possible Mad Men-esque light, we did good!