Being a CEO in and of itself is a really hard task. Often times this title is misconstrued as being one that is particularly glamorous and esteem. However, especially in a startup, the CEO serves as a decision maker forging together the strategy of the company with inputs from other founders, team members, and advisors while simultaneously trying to ensure that they are not persuaded by bad or irrelevant advice.
Even amidst these tasks there comes another aspect of leadership, which is something we try to marginalize but cannot be ignored, age. We often say that age is nothing but a number, but age is understood in the context of experience which is not something to be taken lightly when managing an entire company and your employees. However, there are things that can be done to both ensure that you are acting as the best CEO you can be while not being dismissed for your age.
Be Professional in Public Settings
This may seem obvious but there are many company founders who don’t abide by this rule. Everyone understands that you are on the cusp of the next big thing and want to be innovative, but this is not reason to act unprofessionally in a public setting. Don’t put away too many at cocktail hours or reminisce on the last time you woke up in an unfamiliar place. Talk about the business at hand and don’t stray too far.
Try to Avoid Talking About it
Truth be told, this is not something that happens too often. People are pretty sensitive about talking about the topic, but often times there are related topics that make it inevitable such as school graduation year and/or years of previous work experience. Try to keep the conversations light and to the point. It doesn’t really behoove anyone in the conversation to know how young you are.
You’re Not Mark Zuckerberg, yet
Once you’re managing a multibillionaire company it’s hard for people to dismiss you due to your age, but until that point comes always keep humility in the forefront of your mind. You are still working really hard so show people that you are working yet and don’t have this weird sense of entitlement because you’re title says CEO.
Be as Knowledgeable as you can be
While executing on the strategy and attending meetings all the time, startup CEOs often forget how important it is to continue to be an expert in the subject matter that their startup is dealing with. You have to keep up to speed on recent developments and any underlying nuances to the business. When you are the CEO of a startup people expect that you will know EVERYTHING there is know about the subject material so make sure you keep fresh. Someone who jumped into a business too early or ill-prepared is a clear sign of immaturity.
It’s the uncomfortable truth of the matter, but CEOs under the age of 30 are scrutinized for their age and need to step up their game in order to be taken a bit more seriously. Being a young CEO brings tremendous value in terms of innovation and lack of norms which often stagnate and ultimate serve the death blow to countless startup companies. In the field of business, mutual respect is a key component and as such these tips should be able to streamline the process
This post is written by Sang Lee, the CEO & Founder of Return on Change, an equity crowdfunding portal for high impact startups. You can follow Return on Change @rocSpeaks
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