CEO fail

What Triggers a CEO to Fail?

Business Turnaround Advice

Over the last 20 years, it has occurred to me that the only people qualified to do turnaround are those that actually lived through it. I have systematically watched lawyers and accountants destroy companies with their bad advice. I have arrived on the scene when there was nothing but carnage and pieces left of the dreams of a lifetime. I have watched people fight for their right to stay ignorant, and then upon my arrival listened to CPA’s and attorneys co-sign the imminent demise of an entire company. In this document I hope the reader will glean an override to failure and resist all people who are paid big money to assist the patient in a Kevorkian style end.

Let’s start with the CEO first. This is where the entitlement begins and this is where it must stop. I have watched many company owners blow up getting lost in anger over goals that are unattainable and, even worse, with unrealistic and unfair expectations.

These dangerous sentences allow a CEO to fail.

“This is the way it should be.”
“This is the way it could be.”
“This is the way it is supposed to be.”

These three points have caused more financial damage than any Wall Street csollapse to date. Rather, we should deal with one sentence:

“This is the way it is, period.”

  • This is where the money is right now.
  • This is where the bills are right now.
  • This is where payroll is right now.
  • This is where our tax liability is right now.
  • These are the needs of our customers right now.
  • These are the needs of our suppliers right now.
  • These are the needs of our employees right now.

These sentences warrant immediate action and can cause complete irrevocable success!! “Should”, “could” and “supposed” is a complete waste of energy. The best way to fix any problem in a failing company is to return to the obvious: Produce, Deliver & Collect.


To produce means taking care of new and existing customers. It means honor and respect to those individuals giving you money. Customers count on you to deliver a remarkable product. It means watching over your company so that you give the very best service, being grateful and excited about each day where you command the helm of your life.


To deliver is a clear directive. It means to honestly and completely embrace the needs of your customer. Study them and actively communicate to the conclusion of every aspect in the design and effective implementation of product, …on time! There must be a zero tolerance for ineffective or substandard efforts or quality. Your name is your fiduciary duty to you, your customer, employees and family.

Collect On Receivables

To collect, start by absolutely knowing before ever delivering a job, an agreement of payment terms.

  1. Never, ever, accept credit when your company cannot carry the load.
  2. Never accept terms that are unfair to either party.
  3. Define absolute dates for payment completion.
  4. Discuss all aspects of payment with your customer prior to delivery.
  5. Changes in design or delivery must be accounted for clearly and directly.
  6. Payment terms are not negotiable.

Your job is not to pay for the customer’s work; your job is to deliver the work to the customer and get paid for a job well done. Anything short of that is a breach of contract. Ensure down payments that will commit you and your customer to the Golden Rule:

Produce, Deliver and Collect.

So often owners and CEO’s get caught up in the minutia of the daily work and forget about the Golden Rule. Put your entire effort on this concept and you will never fail.

In closing, I’d like to say, when a CEO learns these lessons, he is qualified, armed and dangerous. He is also qualified to teach what he has learned. I will immediately put him in touch with others in the position he has just overcome. I am not opposed to lawyers and accountants. But, just like anything else, there are few that are authentic, honorable, creative and defiant in the face of catastrophic failure. For those professionals who truly fight the good fight and stand up for the entrepreneur in a free society, I applaud you.

Second chances are many. Successful second chances are very few. It requires strength, dedication and perseverance twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Do what needs to be done always, especially when it’s inconvenient and difficult. Stay the course, keep inside the rules, balance your life inside a structure of gratitude, compassion, understanding and patience.

Peace of Mind is obtainable in the position of Owner/Operator.
Pay your dues.