03 Nov Why I Said NO to a CEO Position in 2008 Even if I was Broke Back Then
Does It Worth Paying Dire Prices to Pursue Your Purpose in Life?
Hold on to your answer for now.
First, listen to my story. I was about to become homeless.
Insult to injury, a previous couple of years since I came to the US in 2005, I was celebrated by friends and colleagues as a successful and fast advancing immigrant professional.
It was the end of 2008. My search for jobs aligned with my purpose for more than 18 months came out empty…
Before that, I was a software engineer working for a multibillion-dollar corporation in Northern Virginia. I got paid over $52, 000 USD per year with some irresistible benefits like tuition reimbursements.
Regardless, in May 2007, I called it quits and left my well-paying job…
The money I had saved since I came to the US in 2005 ran out by the end of 2008, and I was on the verge of going broke and publicly.
Amid all these running in the background, a friend called and invited me to join him and his other friends and colleagues for a holiday party. I hesitated because my head wasn’t right, and I wasn’t in the mood of partying.
However, my friend was persistent, and I said yes.
Halfheartedly, I dragged my legs and went to the party. My body was there, but my mind and heart weren’t, at least initially…
Walking among his guests, my friend was busy introducing us to one another. One of the guys he introduced me to, let’s call him Fred, was a founder of a biological company that had a lab and conducted DNA tests. Back then, it was a hot market.
My friend said, “You two should work together!”
I hadn’t suspected back then, but later I realized that my friend was matchmaking. He knew both of us and our strengths and felt we should partner.
After talking about what we do, Fred went to business: “Assegid, I heard great things about you, and I want you to work with me.”
Fred went ahead and explained why and how he founded the biological lab. I appreciated his mission and business case. He then confessed that he was having some challenges with his current CEO and would like me to take over this role as soon as possible.
Though I felt flattered, I asked a few questions:
- Why was Fred not happy with the CEO?
- What made him think that I could be any better CEO than him?
He admitted that though he likes many things about the CEO, the latter lacked vision and critical people skills.
Fred then explained how I could be a great CEO because of my medicine background, visionary lifestyle, and leadership qualities.
I didn’t say yes or no right away. After appreciating the offer and his confidence in me, I said: “Let me think about it.”
Fred didn’t say anything except okay; take your time. Nonetheless, I could see from his facial expression and non-verbal that he was surprised that I didn’t immediately jump to take the golden opportunity he presented.
My friend, who knew my financial struggle, wasn’t happy either. He had a justifiable reason. I assumed that my friend could be the one who recommended me to Fred. He might have thought it was a win-win for both Fred and me. Fred gets a better CEO, and I need a financial break, which I desperately need.
That was why, before the party was over, my friend approached me and tried to convince me to say yes right there. He remarked, “Assegid, this is a great offer, and you should take it before Fred changes his mind.”
To make the story short, I declined…
By the way, given where I was, the choice wasn’t easy. You may wonder: “What part of this is hard? You should have taken that offer, dummy!”
Yes, it seems straightforward on the surface. But it wasn’t given the fact that I did quit a well-paying software engineer job to make a career shift that would allow me to pursue my purpose.
After quitting, I decided going forward to only take jobs that would prepare me to pursue my purpose, such as consulting, coaching, speaking, facilitation, etc. Back then, these were the skills I needed to develop…
I understood that if I kept taking jobs that didn’t prepare me to pursue my passion, I’d never make a shift at all. I’ll stay away from my purpose, never getting a chance to pursue and get fulfill my grand purpose in life.
By the time I met Fred, I had already vowed to pay whatever price it had taken to make the shift. That was why I was out of work for more than 18 months.
I was looking for any job as far as they aligned with my purpose in life, and I felt Fred’s offer wasn’t.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find such jobs even after declining to take the CEO position.
Finally, I decided to go to school and pursue a doctoral degree in leadership to prepare me for the tasks ahead.
What is the moral of the story?
- First, find your grand purpose.
- Once you discover your purpose, it gives you focus. You’re not easily swayed. You become clear about which opportunities to take and which ones to decline.
- Once you have identified a worthy cause bigger than yourself, for which you’re ready to give it all, be ready to pay your dues.
Be aware. In this universe, there is no free lunch. Everything significant and worthy comes with a high price tag. You won’t get it unless you’re willing to pay for it.
Of course, your purpose is different than mine and everyone else. As a result, the prices and dues you should pay are different and unique to you.
The key is to make a cost-benefit analysis and develop immunity ahead of time to be willing to pay the dues when life demands you. That is how you become worthy of success and significance.
By the way, one of the litmus papers to know whether you have already found a worthy cause is whether it has already cost you some opportunities- whether you said NO to other options to pursue it exclusively. If not, it could be just a hobby, nothing more, nothing less.
And, with just a hobby, you’re not a candidate to fly high. It’s unlikely to tap into your unlimited potential and contribute toward the betterment of others in a meaningful and significant way.
Of course, I took many risks and said some tough NOs while making the shift. Looking back on where I’m TODAY, though, my decisions are justified.
But it wasn’t easy when I was in the middle of the transition. There were times I questioned some of my radical decisions.
- Getting my doctoral degree in leadership,
- Coaching and training leaders in world-class organizations,
- Wrote 6 books,
- Opened three organizations, and
- Many more…
What is more? I’ve grown tremendously and become a better person and leader. Now, I can help other individuals, organizations, and communities to become purpose-oriented.
One more point. If I get similar opportunities now, I won’t say an emphatic NO immediately. I’d create my own job…
For example, if someone like Fred approaches me now and asks me to be a CEO, I would say, “Thanks for the opportunity. Here is how I can serve you better. Let me help you recruit the right CEO. Hire me as a coach to help her or him make a smooth transition. Better yet, why don’t you make me a partner? Give me equity in your company. You don’t need to pay me from your pocket. As a shareholder, I’ll invest my own time, energy, and use my advanced skills to increase the value of the company.”
What am I doing here? Unlike in the past, now, I have high impact and high revenue generating skills such as:
- Platform speaking,
- Closing, and
- Raising capital.
I don’t need to take a position and trade my time for money. I need equity. I can help founders like Fred to:
- Rewrite the contents of the company’s website and marketing materials
- Redo the social media profiles of the company and its online marketing strategies
- Create funnels and use digital marketing
- Strategize to increase the email list and engage subscribers
- Craft the pitch deck and pitch (co-pitch) to raise capital and find joint ventures
- Redesign the organizational structure, create systems, processes, and scale the company
- Design the right soft skill programs for the staff
- Develop customized leadership programs to empower supervisors, managers, and executives
Once I raise the value of the company by leveraging all of the above and more, I can then, if the founders agree, help them sell it or take the company public. Now, you can see where I may get my return on investment. Cash flow from the profits the company makes, and one-time large sum payment if it is sold or goes public.
Of course, there is a risk here. The company may go bankrupt, or we may fail to increase its value. That means my investment of time and energy may go down the drain without ROI.
At this stage in my life, I’m fine with this risk. I am confident that I’m willing to take such risks.
Let me ask you again, Does It Worth Paying Dire Prices to Pursue Your Purpose in Life?
I hope you said YES.
Let me stop here and propose a few things. Wherever you may be right now:
- If you’ve not yet, find a passion/purpose bigger than yourself.
- Make a shift from where you’re now- away from your purpose, to where you should be- at the center of your purpose.
- Develop the necessary high-impact and high revenue-generating skills that advance your purpose.
- The rest, as they say, will be history…
- If you’re a founder or CEO and would like us to help you empower your new supervisors, managers, and executives to make a smooth transition and excel at their new managerial roles, create or reform your culture, help you systematize, scale, and develop the soft skills of your people, click here and check out our Organizational Development Pathway.
- If you would like us to inspire, challenge, stretch, and equip your leaders at various levels by custom-designing leadership programs, click here and learn more about our Leadership Development Pathway.
- If you need copies for your landing pages and social media ads, create funnels, open and launch your new organization, scale the existing one, publish and promote your next book, and so on, you should click here and check out our Consulting service page.
- If you’re serious and would like to Discover, Pursue, and Fulfill your life, and develop the necessary soft skills, leadership qualities, and high-impact and high-revenue-generating skills, click here and apply if you want me to coach you…
- Stay tuned since we’ll soon release an 11-module Master Class video program that empowers you to 1) Discover, Pursue, and Fulfill your purpose; 2) Visualize and Actualize your Vision; and 3) Identify, Define, Commit, and Protect your core Values.