How to Think Like a CEO

Use this list of tips to help develop your personal brand or business.

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I’ve found that being an entrepreneur and a CEO have much in common. These include being passionate about what you want, ardently optimistic, taking risks, focusing on the big picture, having integrity, and working smart and hard. Additionally, being creative, intensely curious, and gaining the business skills to run a profitable business are key.

Hopefully, the following tips will assist you in developing your personal brand or style and the essence of who you are and what you want your business to reflect.

Tips for thinking like a CEO:

  • Focus on the BIG PICTURE and the future. Take purposeful risks and strategize to achieve your vision in both good and tough times.
  • Be optimistic or learn to be. This inspires resilience and encourages those around you to be the same. Optimism transforms fears or adversity into productivity.
  • Learn from failure. Don’t be ashamed of it. It happens with the best efforts. You’re only a failure if you don’t use what you’ve learned to your advantage.
  • Be coachable. LISTEN and absorb what others share. Surround yourself with people smarter than you are. Pay for an accountant (skip doing your own taxes) and an attorney. Find a banker you click with.
  • Be curious. Ask questions of the people surrounding you at your kid’s volleyball game or on the golf course. Listen. Who helped them be successful? Who were their influences? Can they recommend an accountant, lawyer, or banker? How do they handle adversity?
  • Read about highly successful habits of influential people-women and men.
  • Learn how to become emotionally mature. Read about it. Apply the lessons to cope with disappointment, obstacles, loss and, possibly, failure. This will help you move ahead.
  • Never ever give up, but know when to change course.
  • Remain true to yourself and values. Surround yourself with like-minded people.
  • Learn and incorporate the qualities to be influential, to gain executive presence to drive results and mobilize others to action. Learn to speak with impact by being a straight-shooter; speaking your truth regarding big ideas, goals, and vision.
  • If you seek a partner, ensure compatibility.
  • Always create to combat stagnancy, fear of the unknown, or negative feelings that creep in when faced with financial, design,  and production decisions.
  • Walk/exercise/meditate without music/earbuds. Big ideas and problem solving happen on long walks.
  • Retain focus-always.
  • Run your business lean but smart. Listen to your employees.
  • Don’t micro manage.
  • Keep a daily notebook. Write everything down; more big ideas, goals, insights, who you talked with, and with whom you want to talk. You get the idea.
  • Accept feedback by LISTENING and acting.
  • Make the time to network at trade shows, on a flight, baseball field, or golf course.
  • Become social media savvy, but hire someone to do this for your business.
  • Invest in technology and IT people so that you’ll have an engaging, workable website.
  • Introduce employee incentives. Bring lunch in once a month. Add a bonus structure.
  • In tough times, like the 2008 economic downturn, have the courage to cut your salary in half, first, instead of your employees.
  • Give back by actively volunteering on behalf of those most in need in your community.
  • Let your employees know that their work matters. Every single day.

Greg Markus

Greg is the president of RhinoTech, a manufacturer of screen and graphics printing equipment as well as products and supplies. For more information, visit 

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