The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building – Matt Mochary Book Summary

The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building – Matt Mochary | Free Book Summary

The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building – Matt Mochary

What to do when you are the CEO.

The Four Zones


  1. Zone of incompetence: other people do better than you
  2. Zone of competence: you can do it just fine, but others are just as good as you
  3. Zone of excellence: things you are better at than others. You will want to keep doing these things, but this is dangerous. You need to move away from these things.
  4. Zone of genius: these are the things that you are uniquely good at in the world and that you love to do. This is where you should be driving toward spending most, if not all, of your time.

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Decision Making

If you want the most effective and efficient decision-making process, require that anyone who wants to discuss an issue write it up, along with the desired solution, ahead of time.

The hard way: Write an extraordinarily thorough analysis from the get-go.

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The easy way: Write a draft, circulate it to the meeting participants before the meeting, and invite comments and questions. 

This method, though time-consuming for the sponsor, yields extraordinarily thoughtful decisions in a very short amount of time.

Sloppy Agreements

Sloppy agreements are when people don’t show up on time, and don’t complete the goals that they declare.

The antidote is Impeccable Agreements. They are 1) precisely defined and 2) fully agreed to (which almost always means in writing) by all relevant people.

There must be consequences for breaking agreements.

If you can’t meet the agreement, then you have an obligation to let other members of the agreement circle know as soon as possible.


  • Don’t hide negative information.
  • Our imaginations are much more powerful than reality.
  • Share all relevant information with your team, both negative and positive. Let them adapt.

Conflict Resolution

Interpersonal conflict is almost always due to people:

  • Not fully sharing their thoughts and feelings
  • Not feeling heard

Prove to people that you have heard them by summarizing what you just said back to you until they say “that’s right!” Once you assure them that you’ve heard them, then, and only then, will they be open to what you have to say in response.

Issue Identification

Ask each person to pretend that they’re the CEO and answer “What are the most important issues (max 3) for me to solve in the next 90 days?

Ask people to write down their thoughts about the company when they source their Joy, Excitement, Sadness, Anger and Fear.

Values And Culture

  • You don’t choose your values. You have them.
  • Use your values as a guide to who you hire and when you fire.
  • Print and distribute your values
  • Don’t underestimate the value of FUN as a value.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate. Make an effort to publicly acknowledge achievements.
  • Don’t measure hours. Measure output. However, it’s still key that there is a core period of time when everyone shows up to the office so that collaboration can happen.
  • You prevent office politics by never allowing lobbying to be successful.

Goal Tracking And Responsibility

Never assign someone an action without them agreeing to it verbally or in writing.

Encourage people to use their own individual tools for tracking their specific actions. Keep the group goal tracker high level.


When more than one person shares a responsibility, it often does not get done well, or at all. 

One person is assigned to each function in the company.  Maintain and update a list of responsibilities as they change.

Sales: Customer Development

Identify the customer’s specific challenges by asking the right questions.

You need to understand your customer’s pain before you present your solution.

Over time, you will want to build an inventory of problem and solution statements for the different kinds of customers and different product features your product serves.

Don’t hire salespeople right away.

In most cases, salespeople will never be able to sell better than the founders and they won’t be able to sell the product if you are not able to.

To thrive, salespeople need to have a very clear product offering to sell and a very clear direction on who to sell to.

Great CEOs Use These Handy Tips

  • You need to document everything.
  • Be more interested in learning than in being right.
  • You are not making a product. You are solving a customer problem. It is critical that you continually live with that customer problem.
  • Assign each new team member a buddy with whom they’ll check in each day for fifteen minutes for the first two weeks.

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