Lessons From a Young CEO: If I Only Knew Then What I Know Now

by / ⠀Personal Branding Startup Advice / May 8, 2012

Establishing an Established Reputation

When the time came for me to open the doors to my own office I was thrilled, positive and confident because that was what was expected of me. I was by no means “sure” nor well versed in the endeavor I was about to take on, but the time had come to expand if my business was to thrive. My partner and I did massive amounts of research, sought advice and mentorship and even talked to family members who dealt with commercial real estate for guidance.

Family members cautioned us not to take the step, but friends patted us on the back. We didn’t back down. If we were to be successful we needed to take risks, so we opened the doors and prepared for growth. One year later, and many networking events passed, I have learned that all we had gone through may have had been unnecessary.

While becoming established is any CEO’s driving force, I have come to learn that, what was once considered established is no longer the case. Out of the hundreds of CEO I met over that past year I was the only one under 30 with an office of their own. Everyone else was virtual. Was I behind or were they not established? One thing that bugged me was that all these CEOs were getting business and contracts yet my company’s seemed to be slipping.

In retrospect being inside the office was counter productive to business. Instead of going to meetings I invited people to meet at my office. While this was not only convenient for me it also helped to convey the fact that my company was established and doing well. I was trying to make the space support my reputation.

Despite the fact that people were impressed by our capability to afford the overhead of maintenance and rent, the office space did absolutely no sales let alone up selling for us. The space costed more than its monthly monetary bill. There was time that went into up keeping the space, manning it five-to-six days a week. The space also cost me one or two meetings that did not take place because the requestor refused to come to my office. While that much wasn’t significant, maybe I can’t help but wonder, “would they have wasted my time or could that have been a great opportunity?”

The fact remains I may not have needed the office space, even if my clients kept thinking I was a fly by night freelancer. The fact is I lost time that should have been spent on the company. That time and effort lost went into making sure their was revenue constantly coming in for the bills and not into creating something awesome or sales worthy. I regret diverting my attention from work to manage an office space.

If I only knew then what I know now, I would have planned for a few other opportunities that weren’t at the top of my mind. Since I wouldn’t go back and not get the office space, which I obtained to be taken seriously as a company, I would have had at least not banked all my chips in one revenue stream. I would have tried to make the space work for me and not I for it. I felt the day to day month to month operations of the office made me a slave to it. Everyday my concern was how do I keep up the office rather than what next venture the firm would bid for.


They tell you to focus, they teach you to pick one thing and stick to it. As a person trying to make your way – a CEO – you can not be narrowly focused on one thing. A CEO should hold a dream and walk in the direction of that dream, but he should not shut his eyes to other opportunities but, rather seek out and squeeze out more chances and ways for himself to succeed within their main goal.

If I only knew then what I know now, from the moment I signed on the dotted line I would have opened the doors to business meetings, event space and/or rented equipment not in use. The office turned out not to be the thing that made the business a company. It was it’s own entity, one that required attention of its own that quite frankly took away from the business. It took away my focus and time that should have been solely spent on the company. I did not know then that it would have taken on a life of it’s own and the job it required was not one that I wanted to work.

Danii Oliver is a New York City Creative Technologist, she doesn’t just think up great digital ideas she designs them, tests them, and can develop them all herself. As the CDO of DAMN Digital Studio LLC Danii and teammates consult with Enterprise level companies as the firms decided to move towards the digital aspect of advertising, marketing and branding.

About The Author


Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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