6 habits of a startup CEO “athlete”

Phil Morle
2 min readMar 23, 2022

What do you practice every day like a piano player practices scales?

Being the CEO of a startup is ALWAYS a completely new experience and EVERYONE is stumbling through at the start.

Here are some habits that I have learned from others (and have worked for me) as daily training to become a startup CEO “athlete”.

A little bit each day to build capability in a role that is constantly stretching the limits of our own belief.

#1 — Talk to yourself — keep a daily journal

10 minutes at the start or end of the day to reflect upon your own performance.

  • What did you do well?
  • What made you cringe?
  • What did you learn?

#2 — Know how to measure yourself and do it

Choose couple of ‘metrics that matter’ for you. For example:

  • Ratio of time spent with team vs maker-time
  • How many times I rejected an idea out of hand
  • Number of open decisions

#3 — Meet a mentor every month

Find someone that you can learn from. Someone who has been in your seat.

This works best if they are learning from you as well and it is a true peer to peer communication. e.g. perhaps they want to learn about the area that your company is focused on, but they have more CEO experience.

Meet every month. Get them to give you challenges which they hold you accountable for.

#4 — Implement 360 feedback and listen

CEOs can be ‘knowers’. Match growing confidence with an openness to feedback from your team. Apps like Culture Amp have solved this and do it well. Read the feedback and act on it.

#5 — Build in public

People follow leaders because they understand where that person is taking us and it excites them. This means we need to have a point of view that we confidently give and courageously take to the world. The more those ideas encounter other people, the clearer they become, the more exciting they become. Try something like Ship 30 for 30.

#6 — Retrospectives on decisions

Dig up an old decision. Look at the rationale you provided to support the decision. Were you correct? What would you do differently?

Tell other people what you learned.

There’s more to come on this. I have some great ideas coming in from Main Sequence CEOs that I will share.

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Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.