How hard is it for a startup founder/CEO to settle in a non-CEO role after an acquisition?

It is tough for most of us.

We get that the bureaucracy and frictional taxes are going to go up.  But it’s seeing the organization make decisions that are the “right” ones for the larger organization, but not what we see as best for our product, our team, our creation … that make it usually really tough.

My uber-learning is this:  if you get acquired, you have to (mentally) give it 24 months.  At least for planning purposes.  Just assume you’re signing up for something new, that isn’t yours, for 24 months … and now you are just in “best efforts” mode.

No matter what your stay package is, or anything else, first, understand it’s not yours anymore.  And second, stay mentally engaged and checked-in for 24 months … in whatever role makes sense.  Just roll with it.

Don’t try to change things, or break things.  Don’t stress out about the plan, or the goals.  Don’t even worry about the team leaving — you can’t stop them.  And they may stay.  Just be as helpful as you can for 24 months, and be zen about it.

You’ll have 5% of the frustration and 150% of the success if you just do that.  Be zen for 24 months.  Do the best you can.  And roll with it.

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Published on December 22, 2015

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