Podcast Episode 95 – The CEO Update

The CEO Update is the missing piece in the meeting rhythm puzzle. It’s the ‘glue’ that aligns the entire business around the meeting rhythm of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings.

The little seeds you plant in people’s minds can grow into massive old oak trees. The short weekly CEO Update should have the same impact.

In this week’s podcast, Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence discuss different ways to deliver a CEO update, and explain why it’s so important and provide a sample agenda.




Please note that this episode was transcribed using an AI application and may not be 100% grammatically correct – but it will still allow you to scan the episode for key content.

Brad Giles  00:13

Hi there. This week on the Growth Whisperers, we’ve had a problem with our video. Our apologies on this. So on the YouTube version, you’re only going to see Kevin, and you’re going to not see me. But trust me, my audio is there you can follow along. It’s just that you get to enjoy Kevin’s face a little bit more than usual, some of us that might be a benefit. Hope you enjoy this week’s episode on Youtube.

Kevin Lawrence  00:39

Welcome to the Growth Whisperers podcast where everything we talk about is about building enduring, great companies, companies that last for decades, companies that you can look at and be proud of for hopefully generations to come, or at least generations of future leaders to come. I’m Kevin Lawrence. I’m here as always with Brad Giles, my co host on the show, Brad, how you doing today?

Brad Giles  01:01

I’m great, very good at this end, beautiful summer, everything is good.

Kevin Lawrence  01:07

And we’ve got a beautiful winter at our end, too. So we’ve got a great, interesting topic today the missing meeting that most people forget about. And it’s a massive opportunity. We’ll dig into that in a second. But before we do that quickly, what’s your Word of the Day? Brad?

Brad Giles  01:25

Something that’s on my mind is when you’re going to engage with a person about a business subject, are they entertaining you? Or are they teaching you? I feel that there are some people who are entertainers. And there are others who were teachers, and there are others who are actually working on things and providing tools. So yeah, I don’t know how I can I could spend an hour explaining that. But that’s as good as I can do today. Kevin – teachers or entertainers.

Kevin Lawrence  02:05

Well, mine is actually “following the passion”. And I was talking to someone the other day, and it was a someone, a younger teenager trying to figure out what to do in their career. And people are giving them all kinds of different advice. And mine was just like, follow what you’re passionate about. Follow what it is that you like doing. And you’re willing to work hard at it because it feeds you or fuels you in some way. Yeah. And the work itself out. But really, what are you passionate about a willing to put the energy into? So we could weave those together? You know, are you passionate about teaching? Are you passionate about entertaining? Are you passionate about something completely different? But yeah, following what you’re passionate about, which generally means it gives you energy.

Brad Giles  03:02

So over the last few over the last five episodes or so we’ve been talking about the meeting rhythm that is the annual today strategy meeting, the quarterly execution planning meeting, the monthly leadership team meeting, the weekly meeting, the daily huddle. But there’s something that’s missing through our this, there’s something that once you’re doing it, once you start to apply this, it begins to kind of fill a gap that’s not there for the organization. And so that’s what we’re talking about today, which is the CEO update that forms a critical part of the meeting rhythm to help everybody in the organization align, because the daily huddle does a great job of aligning, but this helps it even more. It helps everybody in the organization to understand what the priorities are, and also to build the pride in the organization and it helps the CEO in their ambassadorial role.

Kevin Lawrence  04:18

It was interesting as we were preparing for and talking about this Brad I was remembered back in the 90s when I started my career my gosh that’s forever ago, started my career in advertising. There was a gentleman by the name of Peter Lake and I believe he’s still around wonderful man. He started a company called Canada Wide magazines. They were big into the print magazine space, got a great magazine called BC business based out of Vancouver and we were connected to that organization through some charitable work I was doing which Peter was big into charity MC tons of events in Vancouver. Awesome guy, and he had a daily update. I’m sure it was daily now it might have been weekly or bi weekly. wrong, but I think it was a thought of the day that he would send out to his people back then. And I think back in the 90s, it might have been printed. Yeah, cuz now they’re in a magazine content space. But and I saw some of these updates, and they were amazing it was a quote of the day was some thoughts and everything. And it was partially what inspired me when I started the daily newsletter that I used to have back then back in the late 90s, when I started my practice, and what the point of it is, is he was getting his people in sync and up to date continually with what’s going on. And it was a really powerful mechanism he used as a form of his leadership. And that’s kind of what we’re talking about here.

Brad Giles  05:45

Yeah, yeah. It’s a form of leadership. It’s a form of reminding people. The quarterly, the annual, the monthly, the weekly, that’s the leadership team. And that’s important. And maybe you’re even doing that in a form in the department that you work in. Certainly, daily, huddles are there. But this is a simple five minute update from the leader. Now, I’d advocate once per week, and I know that you would say that, perhaps once per month is appropriate. But what we’re going to say is weekly or fortnightly or monthly, you’ve got to figure out if this is an example of best practice, how do you get this practice to work best in your organization to tailor it to suit yourself. But the point is that there is a regular rhythmic update from the leader that explains some of the simple mechanisms that are occurring in this sphere, some of the updates some of the priorities that are happening.

Kevin Lawrence  06:58

And in many ways, it’s be being able to hear directly from the leader, you know, and to hear their thoughts because there’s this thing called the telephone game, where you know, a CEO has a discussion with executives, executives, talk to directors, directors, talk to managers, managers, talk to assistant managers, assistant managers, talk to team leads, team leads, talk to team members. And the stories don’t make it all the way there to begin with, they don’t flow all the way always. And they also get changed as they should, as the managers put their own stamp onto this. This is a direct communication in the world of massive, easy communication, it’s a no brainer. We have one of our clients right now that does a monthly version. And he has a great monthly version he does by video. And one of these he does, he’s got his head of marketing and communications was an awesome guy, who the CEO and him sit and talk for a couple minutes about the messages. The CEO makes us notes that the head of the marketing group turns on the camera with just using their phone. Because the iPhone is an incredible media device. Yeah, records it. And then the marketing person hands it off to someone on the team, they do some quick edits, and then away they go post it up and away they go. And there’s the CEOs monthly message. It’s just it’s, you know, it’s really powerful. I mean, you could make an argument for a daily potentially at some point that might be a bit much, but it’s just regularly doing it because it’s, it’s almost like there’s no reason not to people just forget to and don’t have a mechanism to get it done.

Brad Giles  08:29

Yeah, it’s, it can be really easy. And as a byproduct, one of the things that I’ve noticed the leaders that I work with, who do it but notice, it kind of consolidates all of their thoughts, and it’s a great way to round out a week by providing an update. Now, this shouldn’t be really, I’d advocate for it should take five minutes to write. So this is a short, sharp, simple email. You know, most of the time when I’ve been coaching leaders who are doing this, my my, my regular thing is make it shorter, make it shorter, make it shorter, we always want to put too much, especially at the beginning put too much in but set the rhythm that is it’s a handful of dot points, a couple of quick updates, what’s on my mind, maybe a metric or two, maybe a shout out some of those kinds of things. It should take really five minutes, but no more than 10 to write. And it should take no more than five minutes to read because then it’s digestible. And you know, if you get an if you’re an employee who’s disconnected from the leadership team, let’s say so you’re one or two or three levels away, and you get an email from the leader about, let’s say, the state of the nation or what’s happening. That’s a pretty interesting if it’s quick, a pretty interesting email.

Kevin Lawrence  10:02

If it’s relevant to all people in the company, which can be challenging, so yeah, my recommendation for something like this example, the head of marketing comes in and records for the CEO, the CEO prepares for less than a minute. And they’ve been thinking about it during the week sometimes if they have had time, and it takes a couple minutes to record. And if you’re gonna write it, some CEOs are excellent at writing, they can sit down and do that stuff. And most are so damn busy. So that’s like, get their EA or get somebody else making it is to make it somebody else’s job to get it out. You just happen to be the person providing the content, and you can be on your way to your kids soccer game. And your key person can contact you to get the key points if it’s written in a written form that is and to pull the content from but the key is, make it somebody else’s accountability that it happens. It shouldn’t be yours.

Brad Giles  10:57

Yeah, but it’s your thoughts. It’s correct. What’s happening. You know, what are you feeling sensing you what is your spidey sense, tell you is a good way to think about it.

Kevin Lawrence  11:11

It is one of the traps to avoid, as you know, the trap of the company newsletters trying to pull content from everybody know, trying to get the stories and the end and they start off strong. And then they often fall on their face. And the reality is in this, it shouldn’t depend on anyone, if your executives happen to share stuff with you, you know, great if you you know, if you want to do shoutouts to people and talk about good stuff happening, it’s wonderful. But you need to be able to have access to it and not be stuck getting stuck on it because people aren’t telling you what you need to know. Yeah, by the way, it’s kind of an interesting insight as if you’re out of touch and don’t know some of that stuff that might indicate that maybe you’re not connected enough to the business. But the point of it is make it simple, and something that can be effective, without a whole bunch of other things to get in this way.

Brad Giles  12:01

I’ve got a client that I work with. And they are big into two net promoter and big into measuring employee satisfaction. And so when we started with them, they’ve done one or two or three runs that the leader had. And then they surveyed their staff. And it was overwhelmingly decided that this was something that was really valued by people, because they got to, you know, they got a bit of an exciting update as to what’s going on. And there was it was short and sharp and sweet. And that’s what really matters.

Kevin Lawrence  12:42

Yeah, and right to the point. So we talked about, you know, some things that it, I think, as you mentioned, it can align people to the objectives, you can be updated on objectives, you can do things in there to reinforce the culture, you can cover off things that will maybe even help people to perform or be on top of really critical things. And as we talked about, we’re preparing is that the agenda can start off a lot like a daily meeting, Hey, what’s up? Hey, here’s the metrics, the first two points of the daily meeting, to share. But the idea here is it’s not just to your direct team that’s cascading to everyone. But then you might have some important messages or themes. Some companies run regular themes, or there’s a major focus that everyone’s aligned around, you might provide some updates on that, here’s some things that have happened. Here’s some highlights. Here’s the division that’s doing the best or some show notes to new ideas around that theme. But as an output, ideally, people come away with something to feel proud about. Proud to be on this team and what’s happening in this team. And then also something to look forward to. Right, you know, that’s, that’s part of, of leadership is leaving their thoughts and, and having them think about where they’re going to go or how it’s going to be.

Brad Giles  14:04

Yeah, so I at a personal level, there’s this simple philosophy I heard about 20 years ago. And that was everybody needs something to do someone to love and something to look forward to. And it’s really playing on that mechanism in the way that you’ve just said. So, you know, we want to activate the pride, which is something to love, you know, activate the pride about our team, our product, our company, our leaders, whatever it might be, we want to try to use that mechanism, something to do you know, we want to make sure that people are aware that we’re progressing and that there’s still work to be done and then something to look forward to. So that we’re able to It could be, it could be an expansion, it could be an acquisition, it could be a company picnic, it could be, you know, a whole range of different things that are coming up could be next week’s update. But we’re really, you know, we’re thinking about it through that lens is that what’s on your mind? How are we progressing on our company priorities, those types of things, any key metrics, and we don’t want to see revenue metrics every single week, we don’t want to say, imagine 15 weeks in a row where the only metric was, yes, we achieved budget this week, like make it a bit varied, make some interesting things.

Kevin Lawrence  15:49

You could break it up in one week reporting on something that has to do with culture, something else it has to do with efficiency, something else it has to do with one of the company goals, who knows, you can find ways to make it and if you’re gonna break it up and do different metrics at different times, again, whoever you make accountable for it, have them to have a calendar. Okay, today reporting on this metric, and have them come with a data so you can you know, speak to it. But the point of it is you want to be reinforcing the things that matter most.

Brad Giles  16:18

And, and what’s on your mind, like, it’s really simple. It’s a way to be authentic, vulnerable to build trust, if you like, yeah, this to some CEOs.

Kevin Lawrence  16:31

And by the way, this could apply to team leaders as well and have big teams. But you know, some, some CEOs are very open about what’s going on in their world personally. And then some art. So that’s a personal thing of what you’re willing to share what you’re not, some are very, you know, almost more secretive, and not open about it. But whatever your style is, share what’s comfortable, and then what’s going to align the team and help people to be able to be on board with the stuff that matters most again, feel proud and have some look forward to.

Brad Giles  17:09

Your update could be “I was really happy that we achieved our number two company priority this week”. Yes. And congratulations to Shawn for his hard work in that area. So if everyone got that, first of all, Shawn is going to be pretty proud. But the Sean’s team will be, there’ll be a whole range of things that come of that. So you, it doesn’t need to be like you said, she adapted to suit your personality style.

Kevin Lawrence  17:37

It could be, what’s up a little bit of company news, a couple of key metrics that relate to your most important company goals, you could review progress on the company goals, and celebrate a few things that have actually happened. And then tell people but a couple things that are happening next week, you could be doing it every time you do it. And you could talk a little bit about one of the company values for a minute and reinforce one of the values and the story about it. Like it’s, it’s things to just keep grounding people in what matters most. Our culture, you know, you might have a big safety, focus in the organization, and maybe it’s something around safety, our goals, um, and where we’re winning, or anything else that they need to know. Again, it’s, it’s basic, but it’s the discipline of a CEO to do it on a regular basis. Or team leaders leading big teams, just a very simple thing. And it’s basically it’s almost like the, it’s the missing meeting rhythm that many people forget about, and the ability to impact the entire organization and have them think about the same thing.

Brad Giles  18:45

Yeah, people know what’s going on. It’s an amazing alignment tool. Okay. Yep. So. So just as a quick summary, then why does it matter? It helps to align the team to the company objectives, the performance, and also the culture. It’s this kind of, in the same way that the daily huddle is a bit of a drumbeat. This is a secondary drumbeat. But from the leader, and it helps. It’s it, the structure, it should be like the daily, again, what’s up any metrics, important messages, something about the culture, don’t make it too long. We want to have no more than five, maybe 10 minutes to write it and prepare for it. And it should take no more than five minutes to read it or watch it if you’re using videos. And finally, you know, it can be a bit about thinking about the last week so some updates and a little bit about thinking about next week as well or next month depending on what you’re doing. And finally, one last point, make it an interesting title. So you want it to stand out Add a little bit, or use the same title of the email subject, assuming you’re using email each week. And that doesn’t mean that you need to change the email title every week, it more means you just want to have something that when people see it if they’re getting 100 emails a day it’s going to stand out.

Kevin Lawrence  20:22

Yeah, well, that’s the idea of the show. So we challenge you to what if, what if you were to do it weekly, great, bi weekly, monthly, whatever it is, what’s the rhythm that you’re going to communicate to every person and make your basic agenda like we talked about and get it started? Find someone on your team to support you and get it done. Another great tool, and it’ll be well worth the time. So thanks for listening. This has been the Growth Whisperers Podcast. I’m Kevin Lawrence as always the Brad Giles for the YouTube version go to the growth whispers on youtube.com to reach us to subscribe to our newsletters or reach out to us. Brad is ever lar FLR evolution partners.com.au and Kevin is Lawrence and co.com. Hope you have an awesome week. And just remember the little bits of communication and little seeds you plant in people’s mind can grow into massive massive old oak trees and that’s a wonderful thing. Have a great week.