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Lessons of a CEO #1: Lessons I’ve learned.

By Alex, Last updated: 2022-03-17 (originally published on 2016-09-23)

Lessons I’ve learned.

In every diary there has to be a first entry.

I did mull with the idea of waiting until 1st January or choosing an auspicious date; but a fear of procrastination, born of a letter I once didn’t send, or a stamp I didn’t buy – which of course led to a result that was terrible; and not knowing any auspicious dates – rendered both impossible or at least improbable.  So this is the first, in what I am told by my marketing team is essentially a permanent weekly memoir of my life as a CEO of a startup.

“Just write about what you do. People will be interested”, they said. And (in the full appreciation that an interested readership is a remote aspiration) I have anyway, always rather fancied writing a secret diary. I think, since I was old enough to read Adrian Mole.

This blog is of course not remotely private. I’m not 13 and three quarters – (in fact at 39 and a few months I’m really far too old for tech and the obligatory tech startup T-shirt). There is equally no Pandora, but joyfully there is a long suffering wife and three lovely children – two of which funnily enough were born since I started our fair startup a few years back.

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22 September 2016 “About Cathy”

This is the first week that I’ve been back in Cyberport for over two months. I remember telling an investor a year ago that I could never possibly need any help with my diary. “P.A’s are for bankers” I think was how I phrased it. I may have secretly googled https://x.ai/ but Amy seems to have been busy for a very long time, or maybe she’s just not very good at scheduling her time. Either way she never emailed me back. Anyway I don’t need an Amy, because at Zegal we have Cathy. Cathy, you say? Another AI? No, and Google won’t help you here. You see Cathy is entirely real (and that delights me!).

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And the reason that my first post is dedicated to Cathy?  Because your startup needs one – not our Cathy of course. But every startup needs their Cathy.

Of course, you will read a lot about how a startup must have an idea, money perhaps, validation maybe, even ‘a great founding team’. These are probably all true. You’ll naturally have spent time making sure that your startup has – or at least can have these things. I don’t imagine you have made budget plans though for your Cathy. Her role looks a little odd on your slide deck. You see Cathy won’t go out and get new customers. Cathy doesn’t build software. Cathy doesn’t draw charts on the wall or argue with our CTO. I have a Sales Director, and a CTO and anybody that wants to argue with the CTO for that.

Why does every startup need a Cathy? 

For the one million things that your startup and your team will need every day of its life to make it work, to make it grow and to make it happy. It’s Cathy this week of course who decides that even though its Friday and I’m in Auckland, and I’m due in Brisbane on Monday, it makes perfect sense to fly me via Hong Kong for my daughter’s third birthday party.

Does Amy do that? No I didn’t think so.

Daniel Walker
CEO of Zegal

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