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There is a difference between winners and losers, and therein lies the quintessential choice for all of us, particularly CEOs. Do you want to be a winner or a loser? Your choice.

I keep referring to ‘the list’ with all my CEOs all the time. ‘The list’ is a daily set of tasks that need to be done that helps you make better choices. In its simplest form, it is what a company needs to survive, one day at a time.


Truth and Consequences

Take a car, for example. If a car needs brakes, tires and a tune-up, it’s something that needs to be done. Think of the consequences of not doing those things:

  • You could have a blow out on the freeway going 80 miles an hour.
  • Your car quits running when you have to meet a customer.
  • You slam on the brakes and you run into the back of the car in front.

Very bad consequences indeed!

We can all make excuses by saying, “the brakes will last a little longer,” “the tires might be okay for another thousand miles,” or “the tune up can wait.” We can all put it off another day, but a winner won’t. A winner wants to pursue life with confidence and wants to get the job done well.

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List Every CEO Must Follow

Each day, you have to be in front of every issue so that you can do your fiduciary duty to your company. Someone once said that when all tasks are committed to a list, it leaves one free to think. I quite agree.


Here is a sample list for a Monday. Every day is different, so you should have a different list for each day.

Monday at 5:00am

  • Say prayers for a good day.
  • Eat a light breakfast.
  • Note all cell phone and email messages that came overnight.
  • Make a mental note to respond to each and every one of them.
  • Contact all customers with the status on existing projects.
  • Contact your team to discuss creditors.
  • Contact two creditors, preferably the worst of the bunch. Give them the latest solution from your team.

Monday at 10:45am

  • Check with all managers and subcontractors to ensure quality control and all delivery schedules are good.
  • Take a brisk walk to lunch. On your way, call your wife to manage family issues.
  • Have a light lunch.
  • Return to base.
  • Set up calls for collections, setting up payment time-lines with defined beginnings and ends.
  • Prepare for an early dinner meeting with problem customers and make them feel safe.

Monday at 7:00pm

  • Go to the gym

Monday at 9:00pm

  • Watch the news to keep up with current events.
  • Say your prayers and give thanks for all you accomplished in that day.

This is a simple list for any Monday and most people do not do 30% of it! Those people will not have a high yield on their bottom line. The success of your corporation depends entirely your on commitment to the list – and that means all of it, not just that things you want to do.

Excuses, Excuses

I have long since quit calling them excuses. Rather, I have replaced one word (“excuses”) with two: “Good reasons”.

Let’s take a soccer player as an example. He’s going to college, has a full class load and the finals are coming. He finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant and there are doctors’ appointments to attend to as well as the stress of just knowing that he’s having a child at a young age. His workouts suffer as a result. There just isn’t enough time to do it all. On the day of the biggest game, his physical fitness fails him and his team loses.

Although he had good reasons for not training, it meant he didn’t take home the gold.

It is the student who rallies in the face of all those responsibilities, who keeps his or her head together, that prevails.

All of us have damn good reasons why “everything” can’t be done, including that it’s just generally inconvenient to be responsible all of the time. Therein lies the difference between a winner and loser.

So, let’s ask ourselves a very important question. There are only so many minutes left in life, what are you going to do with yours? Put pen to paper and write out your list for tomorrow.

Reach out to me for a helping hand.

Patrick Rettig
The Rettig Corporation