Why I Fired Myself as CEO
And why I should have done it sooner...
New here? Click HERE for why I’m doing this weekly letter.
Need to catch up?
The Rate of Return is Always Smallest When You Follow the Crowd
The short answer… BURNOUT.
The longer answer… I woke up some mornings and I didn’t want to go to work. That’s a problem when you’re the founder and boss.
I was exhausted, disconnected and distracted.
I didn’t feel aligned with my purpose, I was exerting all of my creative energy for others and I was doing the job of 50 people.
Now, this was certainly NOT known to the public eye, and especially NOT to our clients. In fact, my / our commitment and execution to our clients was at an all time high and we were doing great… but I was not.
Let me back up a minute to give you the 30,000 foot view and then we’ll wrap it up in the “micro”.
Some conventional western ideologies would not have you discuss this publicly, but then again, I’m anything but conventional and this whole Substack is actually quite contrarian (a person who opposes or rejects popular opinion), so let me use myself as a case study in efforts to help others deal with the burnout of doing too much.
Let me explain…
One of the business endeavors I own is a digital agency dedicated to creating all the sales and marketing funnels, user experiences and systems that power people’s brands… you know, so they can do more of what they love at scale.
It started because several years ago I had finally implemented systems for my own brands as a way to buy back my time, as well as maximize my output and efficiency.
The headline in the above photo says it all…
…You deserve more freedom.
As do we all… and which I used to have 😂
Concurrently, it was also a great way to consolidate my consultancy into a vertically integrated entity that could handle the one area most people don’t like to implement in their brands… the tech (the automations, 3rd party apps, software, CRM and other admin intensive activities that really power growth).
Many don’t like to do systems, but that’s where the money is made and that became our niche.
We’re the ones behind the scenes to make it all happen… and believe me, many of your favorite brands and people need it cause they are often thriving in chaos.
So, this brings me to SEVERAL vital points:
In the very beginning of agreeing to do this, I was 39 turning 40 and I made a pact that I was NOT out to create an agency empire with 50 employees and large overhead earning $50M/year and paying out $50M/year to cover everything. To me, that wasn’t smart. I wanted something nimble, that a team of 5-6 could run, with low overhead and higher returns that came from doing exceptional work. Why? Cause you can reinvest good returns into other assets. I’m just not a typical business owner and I believe in the power of diversification and multiple streams of revenue.
I used to work “brand side” for many years, auditing agencies because they were charging a fortune for digital activities, often employing junior consultants with no real strategic approach to “build outs” and then forgetting to give clients real value other than “well, it looks good”. That’s not good business. Good business is creating something that is functionally simple, beautifully designed and drives intentional activities to increase ethical profit.
The name I had originally settled on for this brand was, Systems Over Hustle. No explanation needed.
I knew that if this business ever stole my joy, distracted me from my greater purpose or violated my boundaries, I would make immediate adjustments to ensure I stay loyal to my soul.
So, here we are… #4 happened and I choose my soul above anything else.
Now, it’s important to state that I don’t think you should ever discard the essential while retaining the superfluous because of excessive zeal. In other words, don’t eliminate something good while trying to eliminate something bad.
I have an incredible team of 5+ who are exceptionally talented and do some of the greatest work I’ve ever seen, period, full stop.
Also, I’m a firm believer in respecting and optimizing the things we create in this world, especially our businesses that are in service to others, so long as they are relevant to keep.
However, I also learned that bringing something to life doesn’t necessarily mean I should a.) run the day-to-day activities, and b.) run the day-to-day activities… yes, I said that twice.
Visionaries don’t necessarily need to be the CEO of the company.
Most of the time, they simply need to bring the vision to life, put people in place to run it, and then stay active by way of managing the vision, not the “day to days.”
Recognizing where you are most needed, where you are most thriving, where you are delivering the most value, and what also really feeds your soul, is how I believe you create a winning lane you can drive.
Otherwise, you can quickly find your way to crash and burn.
So, what was needed… well:
I took back my creative energy for me. Everyone benefits when you do this.
I reconnected with my priorities… mind, body & God.
I remembered where I am needed most… publicly of service (keep watching my socials)
I let go of trying to control everything… so everything can expand.
I delegated all of the pertinent activities to my talented team.
I’m finally writing the book. (stay tuned)
In short, I fired myself… not because I wasn’t capable, but because I’m needed elsewhere and I have a talented team that is (fully capable).
As a CEO, we must learn to trust our vision, trust our team and trust God… always put your soul first and you’ll never lose.
Read this week’s Simplify, Multiply, Diversify below…👇🏼
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. - Socrates
Don’t be quick to be busy. Be quick to be deliberate (conscious and intentional).
Results don’t come from busy. The moment you find yourself in “busy” territory that takes you away from your purpose or where you’re most needed, immediately pause and make necessary changes.
The fastest way to multiply is to divide the number of activities you do. Double down only on the ones you do well that create the greatest impact. Everything else must be delegated.
The results don’t come from doing more.
They come from doing less… a lot less.
80% of your growth comes from 20% of your activities. Everything else is probably slowing you down.
In short, the things you do best will always pay the highest returns in life.
Don’t be everything in one arena. Be one to two things in many arenas.
Don’t tackle everything by yourself. Life and business is a team sport.
Not a reader? Follow along below:
Was this newsletter forwarded to you? Sign Up
New Podcast Episode ➠ How to Balance Hard Work & Surrendering
In the meantime, tell your friends!
I love it. Particularly the Multiply part. It took so many years for people to understand this...
Thank you for being such an inspiration!
PS: keep us posted about your book!!! xx
I love that you’re non-conventional, that you speak so highly of your team, and that you made a pact with yourself and stuck to it. Great article as always, Matt!
I’m happy that SOH is still thriving and that you’re able to step away and focus on the things that bring you the most joy.