The Great CEO Within by Matt Mochary: Summary & Notes

Rating: 9/10

Available at: Amazon

Related: Disciplined Entrepreneurship, Essentialism


A summary of the best resources for startup CEOs. Considered the startup CEO bible by many of the hottest current startups.

Full of lessons that can be applied to any high-performing individual, or anyone who works in a startup. Most useful for those who have crossed the earliest stages of a startup, and are starting to scale.


  • There are many reasons to create a company, but only one good one: to deeply understand real customers (living humans!) and their problem, and then solve that problem.
  • Do not create a 50/50 partnership with your cofounder.
  • Founding teams should never grow beyond six until there is true product-market fit. For three main reasons: morale, communication and organization, and speed.
  • Startups don't usually fail because they grow too late. They usually fail because they grow too early.
  • Use the Getting Things Done framework for personal productivity.
  • Check your inbox twice per day. Organize it according to Andreas Klinger's blog post.
  • Schedule two hours each day to work on your top goal only. Do this every single work day. The earlier the better.
  • Be on time. Be present.
  • Whenever you say something twice, write it down.
  • Use gratitude to help have fun and feel good about yourself. This is when you perform best. Use it to help others too.
  • Do an energy audit each month, marking things that give you energy, and things that drain you. Do this until 75%+ of your time is doing things that give you energy.
  • Aim to do things in your Zone of Genius: the things you are uniquely good at, and that you love to do.
  • Get enough sleep. Experiment with your sleeping setup. Throw money at the problem.
  • For decisions involving lots of stakeholders, use the RAPID method. brian_armstrong emiliemc
  • Conscious leaders learn to locate, name, and release their feelings. You can learn more about this in The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.
  • To encourage people to identify key issues in a company, ask them to imagine they are the CEO, and ask themselves the question: "What are the most important issues (max three) for me to solve in the next ninety days?"
  • To resolve conflict, make the other person feel heard. Keep summarizing what they said ("I think I heard you say..." until they say "That's right!"
  • Distribute your values, print them out, and repeat them until your team knows them back to front.
  • Don't underestimate the value of fun. People will spend more time and energy when having fun.
  • If your team members are hanging out with each other outside of work, you're creating good culture.
  • Your culture is the behavioral norms of your company. Be intentional about them. Document them, model them, hire for them, and enforce them.
  • Use OKRs.
  • The best product managers paint a picture for engineers of why a feature is actually needed by a customer.
  • Receiving feedback: ask for it, appreciate it, act on it.
  • Giving feedback: ask for permission, state the trigger, state your feeling, make a request (positive: do X), ask if they accept.
  • Your main obstacle to growth is often not growing a sales team, but generating more leads.
  • Make money, have fun, do good.

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