Want to Level up? Hire a CXO

by Lisa Sears

Sometimes when I talk about what I do for a living, I am not as clear as I should be.

In 2018, I tried on a lot of hats. Some were good fits and others weren’t. The experimentation was necessary, but I can see how confusing it would be if you were watching my growth from the outside.

With the close of the “year of experiments,” I’ve shifted into thinking really big. What does Brass Rings look like in two years? How big could it be if I really let myself dream? What culture do I want to build? What role do I want to play? And what things are keeping me from being that right now?

When I made my intentions for 2018, I made sure they were in service of my future vision.   This year, I am focusing on joint ventures and practicing being in the public. I am also making 2019 the year that I stop doing everything and trust the resources around me.  With the successful partnership with our graphic designer Mike Mancini in mind, I decided I would hire my first support person to my team. I have to admit, as liberating as that was to write down, it was also as equally terrifying. It’s one thing to invest in an outside resource; it’s a whole other thing to hire someone directly to your team.

I love lifting others, so why was investing in supporting myself such a challenge?

When I was commuting from Syracuse to Asheville, I met Shawndra Russell on the plane. We became fast friends. She’s been a huge cheerleader and has jumped in to support several projects that launched in Asheville. We share coinciding work styles, and she has a similar vision as to where she thinks I can take my business. Last week, I asked her if she’d be interested in being my business manager. She squinched up her nose. I mean a really tight squinch. I took that as a no.

But the next day, Shawndra told me she was role designing her ideal position in my company. The position she proposed was almost identical to what I was thinking a business manager would do for me, but her service model was more than I could have ever hoped for. She was going to step in where I needed to step out and get everything over the finish line. Simple but brilliant. She then asked me about my pain points and what would bring me joy if I never had to do “it” again.

I had a moment where I got quiet and just smiled. She was doing for me what I am always trying to do for others. She was lifting me up and tying it together with a big fat bow that I didn’t have to wrap. I didn’t tell her how to help me; she was doing it intuitively. And so well that it made the decision easy.

Last week, she joined me for our first official planning meeting as my CXO (Chief Experience Officer, her title credit, not mine). We planned out my entire business rhythm on a large calendar that hangs in my office. Each Joint Venture has a mini business plan including action items for Shawndra. We have a publishing calendar and a list of projects she will rework for me while I am in Syracuse for the next two weeks.

It’s a plan that will allow my business to grow whether I am in it day to day or not. As CXO, Shawndra will not only make my clients and joint work partner’s experience better, she will make my experience better.

Shawndra believes in my brand, trusts my value, and is a foundational member of the culture that I am so eager to build. She knows who I want to help and why; she is bought in to the mission so much she is willing to take on risk in order to be a part of the journey. She will help me drive the revenue to not only pay her compensation, but ultimately facilitate me stepping into the role of my dreams.

Now when people ask me what I am doing, I will to tell them I am a coach and a business owner. My goal is to build a business that will support other coaches. My future role will be the leader of a team that facilitates growth.

It feels powerful to admit that I am someone who needs help and doesn’t want to do it alone. It was a smart (and fun) to team up with Colleen early on. We accomplished so much more together than we ever would alone. We talk about that a lot. It worked so well horizontally; I can’t imagine the traction I will be getting when I practice it vertically. Heck, what level would you call someone who wants to be your right hand? Doesn’t matter, I can’t wait. The relief that I am experiencing–the clarity, the focus–is really motivating.

As a business owner, I was admittedly hesitant to hire my first employee. It made me feel somewhat responsible for someone else’s livelihood. I was worried about taking that on. My advice to others that may also find this leap a challenge: find someone like Shawndra that will make that decision easy for you. Without taking on risk, we stunt our future ability to grow. I will certainly not be happier if I continue to do it all and wasn’t happiness really the point to begin with?

Ready to level up? Start looking for your CXO today.

Who do you know that believes in your more than you do, has an uncanny habit of getting sh*t done, or thrives near the end of projects?

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