Did You Know?

7 of the 18 clients interviewed for this Baltimore/Washington SmartCEO July 2008 article (PDF) were Wayne Caskey's.


smartCEO Magazine

Wayne has written a monthly column, "Caskey's Corner," for smartCEO magazine since February, 2002. Several are gathered here for your reference.

Learn or Churn
Churning is the forced turnover of CEOs. CEOs need to learn what to do and who to be to avoid becoming a statistic in this growing phenomenon.

Route 66
At the end of July, my son and I drove a 24-foot panel truck filled with his family's possessions from Brooklyn to Santa Fe. From St. Louis on we followed old US Route 66, which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. As we traveled along, the parallels between our journey west and the CEO journey became increasingly clear.

Global View
Geneva, Switzerland: Can any CEO today not have a global view? What does a global view mean? What are the demands of attaining and maintaining such a view?

Heartfelt Sales
My route to the CEO position was unconventional. It wound through labor relations, personnel, administration, acquisitions and operations. Sales were always the source of revenue that allowed the interesting things to happen. And it always seemed in the final analysis, sales were at best a head game, and at worst, toughly competitive, manipulative or self-serving. It's only relatively recently I've realized how, properly viewed, sales is a matter of the heart.

The Harley CEO
You've been the house rebel for years. You've chafed at the bureaucratic restrictions of the organization. You've scoffed at the political games. You've been the chief critic (at least privately) of the leadership. And now you're the CEO. This column examines where you came from and what you have to deal with now.

Navigating the Change
The challenge has gone out of the organization you've founded or headed. Perhaps your life circumstances dictate a change. Maybe you feel deeply that you want to develop an entrepreneurial leadership style. Whatever your motivation, you want to land on your feet in this significant change in your life. You're not used to failing and you don't want to start now. So how do you maximize your chances of success? Four of my clients are going through this kind of change. Two are seeking to buy a business, one to head a different organization, and one to succeed in an entrepreneurial venture. So what are the questions these clients have had to deal with in bringing about significant positive change in their lives?

Giving Back
We've all heard CEOs talk about "giving back." Many say that "I've received so much, now it's my time to give back." This column deals with the question of what's really going on when CEOs make this statement.

The Columnist and the CEO
This column enters its fifth year with this issue. It's an appropriate time to review the parallels between my experience as a columnist and the experience of CEOs.

Appraising Alliances and Allies
Webster's Dictionary offers a simple definition of an ally: one who is associated with another as a helper. Alliance has a slightly different twist: an association to further the common interests of the members. CEOs often use "allies" and "alliance" freely and without specificity. So let's get specific and ponder the conscious formation of alliances and choice of allies.

Succeeding at Succession
Three of my CEO clients are at various stages in the succession process. This column identifies the very personal questions that a CEO needs to ask himself, both about himself and his successor. (This column specifically applies to a male succeeding a male; however, it may be of interest in other types of gender succession.)

Katrina Lessons for CEOs
Katrina has held many lessons for us as citizens and as human beings. This column explores two lessons Katrina has for CEOs.

Authentically Asserting Authority
As CEOs we're called upon to assert authority all the time. We have "the last word" in dealing with major customers and vendors, officers and key employees. We oversee major capital expenditures, mergers, acquisitions and dispositions. We have final approval of the image our company presents to the public and of the major community causes our company supports.

North to Alaska
ON BOARD THE MS RYNDAM OFF THE COAST OF ALASKA: Anne and I were married before my last year at Yale Law School. We were exuberant. The sky was the limit. We were going to have six kids (we ended up having four) and we were going to live in Alaska. During that final year of school I wrote to several firms in Alaska. The classic response was from a partner of a firm in Juneau, "When you're in Juneau, look me up." We never made it to Juneau and instead spent our meager savings on a trip to Indianapolis, Kansas City and LA. I accepted an offer in Kansas City.

Stayin' Alive
As CEOs, we know we'll have to deal with opposition—from competitors, from the government, from various groups with vested interests other than our own. What we don't always anticipate, or at least deal well with, is opposition from within our organizations. After all, we're the chosen leaders—we have the vision, we have the leadership expertise, and we have the company's and its employees' best interest at heart. Why would anyone mount an effort to resist, undermine or openly oppose?

Dedication, Education, Graduation
In the past few weeks I've attended the dedication of two granddaughters in a religious congregation, and the graduation of our youngest daughter from a masters program in not-for-profit management. The conjunction of these two events has raised for me the issues of how we dedicate and educate ourselves as CEOs, and what constitutes graduation for us.

You Gotta Have Heart
Since last July I've taken four segments of an advanced course in "Relationship Systems Coaching" that focuses in part on the healthy functioning of executive teams. Faith Fuller, one of the founders of this approach, has graciously consented to my use of course material for this column.

We are asked as CEOs to give an overall perspective on our businesses, whether for analysts, bankers, vendors, customers, directors, stockholders, regulators, or even as responses to inquiries by business acquaintances or friends. We are the goto persons for the broadest perspective, the "metaview."

Key Colony Beach, Florida—Our visitors for the last two weeks have left, and Anne and I are looking forward to two weeks of peace and quiet. For me, this prospect raises the topic of the role of quiet in a CEO's life.

The Three-legged Stool
As CEOs, you may be familiar with the "three-legged stool concept" the core philosophy of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. The first leg is McDonald's itself, the second its franchisees, and the third its supplier partners. As Kroc said, the stool is only as strong as each of its three legs. You may not be as aware, however, of the three-legged stool you sit upon each day you hold your CEO position. Its three legs are achievement, trust and the "personal."

When Your Ship Comes In
A large part of being a CEO resides in the hope of a financial payoff. That hope "hovers in dark corners/before the lights are turned on" (Hope, Lisel Mueller). If you're patient, prudent, plan well, and have a little bit of luck, one fine day the light may very well be turned on and your ship will come in.

Significant Other
CEOs rarely talk publicly about what their significant other means to them. Oh, there may be a reference to "my other half," "my better half," or a favorite picture on the desk or credenza. But what does this person really mean to them?

Balance Is Not Bunk
My son-in-law likes to stir the pot. He certainly stirred my pot about ten days ago when he e-mailed me from Geneva, and attached an article from Fast Company entitled "Balance is Bunk."

The Clone, The Complement, and The Complete Team
As I watch my clients build their companies, there seem to be three discrete organizational stages—cloning themselves, obtaining a partner whose abilities complement their own, and, over time, assembling a complete team. This column offers some thoughts about each of these processes.

Appearance & Reality
This last weekend I attended my fiftieth high school reunion in the small town where I grew up, one hundred miles west of Chicago in tall corn country.

No Inspiration
I sit down to write a column and no inspiration comes. The well is dry. I'm submerged in some kind of summer miasma, and appropriately enough, this column is looking like a real "labor" in celebration of Labor Day.

Finding Company
Ask a CEO to define the word "company" in the midst of a busy day and he or she may say "my company, the one I own [or head]." There may even be a little impatience with the question in the press of the moment. Ask the same question at the end of a workday or on a weekend, and the answer may very well change.

At Ease
It's that time of year—holidays, vacations, long weekends, favorite getaways, far vistas, refreshing the mind, the heart and the soul.

Movin' On: Seasons of a CEO's Life
My wife and I move this week, the eleventh time in our married lives, although we've lived where we now are for eleven years. As we discard what we no longer need or use, I am taking the opportunity to consider how we as CEOs "move on" in our lives, from one season to another.

Convene, Confer, Convoke
At the International Coach Federation Conference in Denver, Colorado, I came upon something I had not seen before—a format on how to get the most out of the convention. It seems to me that this format contains really worthwhile directions for everyone, including CEOs, on how to get the most out of any convention you're attending.

Fluid Positions
It's the legislative season. This week I had the opportunity to visit Annapolis for a day as part of a delegation supporting positions of a regional CEO group. This column addresses participation in the legislative process.

Extra Time
As you receive this issue of SmartCEO, you will be experiencing what we on Earth who follow the Gregorian calendar experience ninety-seven times every four hundred years—an extra day, Leap Day, February 29!

Groundhog, It's Your Shadow, Deal With It
Up in northwest Pennsylvania, venerable Punxsutawney Phil is peering out from his hole. He says, "No sunlight? Great! I won't be able to see my shadow and can stay out here. I miss the sunlight, but that shadow really gets to me."

The Attraction of Risk
As CEOs, we like broad-based challenges. Our motto may very well be, "Bring it on, whatever it is! I'm up to the challenge."

Failure Remembered
For a CEO, the word "failure" can call up sweaty palms, down-cast eyes, furrowed brows, deep sighs, faraway looks, "Oh mys"—each with its own meaning, association and emotion.

Foreign Perspective
Bruce Beach, Ontario. Anne and I are here for the thirtieth year. The blue waters of Lake Huron stretch out before us. It's ten days after Labor Day and the cottages around us are empty. I have my daily routine of riding my bike five miles into Kincardine (a small town of 12,000), having coffee, reading the paper, riding back, having a beer, a swim and a nap. Walks on the beach with Anne, sunsets, star-gazing and card playing fill our evenings. It's pretty idyllic.

We Are Fam-i-ly!
My focus in writing these columns over the past twenty months has been to contribute to making you, my CEO readers smart—book smart, street smart, and sharing-experience smart. The individual topics have come from whatever is first and foremost in my life each month.

Alone at the Top
I'm riding my bike up the North Central Trail from Parkton to the Pennsylvania line. I'm going at a pretty good clip, even though tthe trail rises at its steepest grade here, when I guy passes me, yelling, "On your left!"

Vice, Virtue and Rationalization
Worldcom, Enron, Vivendi, RiteAid, and Chapman Enterprises—allegations conjuring up images of corporate villains running amok or modern Genghis Khans pillaging the business and investor landscape. Are the allegations, if true, merely random eruptions from the subterranean magma of greed, overreaching, and corruption, or is there more here?

Authentic Leaders
SmartCEO has some interesting statistics in its 2003 media kit about its readership. Important for a columnist to know, huh? Yes, and for some reasons I didn't fully appreciate when I began this column.

Power Through Vulnerability
As a CEO you know that taking risk, subjecting your company to known, measured and managed vulnerabilities in pursuit of particular goals, comes with the territory. Risk-taking is the very fabric of entrepreneurial existence and is a fact of life in the largest of corporations.

Gremlins in the Executive Suite
As an executive coach, I often use a concept developed by Richard Carson in his book, Taming Your Gremlin. Gremlins, pictured in the book as various repulsive-looking lizard-like creatures with leers and smirks, are constructs for those parts of ourselves that find ingenious ways to resist change, maintain the status quo and effectively take us out of awareness of the present moment.

On the Go
You've just left home in the taxi on the way to the airport. You're settling down as the cab pulls onto the interstate. Then you see it—- a massive traffic jam. Your stomach knots. You may miss the plane and this most important business meeting you've been planning for months. You urge the cabbie to hurry, but you know there isn't much he can do.

Take it to the Next Level?
My friend, Bill Troyk, is the President of Roadrunner Freight Services, Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a less than truck load (LTL) carrier. Very early in his career, I was a mentor for Bill, and we have kept in touch over the years. He has built his company from scratch to $130 million annual volume, from one operations terminal in Milwaukee to nine terminals nationwide, and from six employees (traffic, sales, accounting) to four hundred employees and one hundred fifty independent contract truckers.

Have You Sent Your Valentines?
Love notes from the executive suite.

Curling Lessons
Staying on target in the dead of winter.

What an Animal!
Getting in touch with your inner beast.

CEO Shintaido
Come with me to a hilltop in northern California, well north of San Francisco, on the edge of a redwood forest, with early morning ocean fog nestling in the valleys. We're here as part of a leadership course, and it's 8 a.m. on the first day. We begin with Shintaido,

A CEO's Labor
The profitable path of dreams fulfilled

CEO Self-Examination
More introspective rumination from our resident poet, Wayne Caskey

Balance sheets are important, but don't forget to wonder how you'll be remembered.

A Change in Perspective
Where you go on vacation is less important than who you are when you get back.

The Merger
The familiar old tale of long-suffering Sam (a poem)

Leadership Alignment
Does it matter what kind of leader you are? Only if you want to shape your destiny.

The End of the Line
What does humility do for a CEO? It might help you keep your job.

The Chief Energy Officer
The World only responds to how you tell it to respond. You create it all.

The Curious CEO
How can you find the hidden capabilities within your company? Remember to wonder.

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