Being a founder CEO is hard

In the early days, you’re a founder, even if you have the CEO title. A founder works on the product. A CEO works on the company that works on the product.

As your business starts to grow, you will need to either take your seat as a CEO, making this position authentically yours, or transition away gracefully if this is the right thing to do.

In this newsletter we’ll be exploring both stepping into the CEO role of a startup and stepping down.

We’ll be talking about what changes as your startup starts to grow and you find yourself more focused on leading and managing and less working directly on the product or spending time with customers. We’ll be talking about healthy team dynamics, culture and managing your own psychology.

We’ll also be talking about how to decide to step down if you think it’s could be the right next step, how to choose your successor, how to ensure an orderly transition and also what’s next for you: another startup, a job or something different?

Who writes it?

My name is Evgeny Shadchnev, and I’m a founder coach. Prior to starting to coach others I founded Makers, a tech training company in the UK, and served as its CEO before stepping down to focus on coaching other founders.

Why is it called Unconditionally Human?

At the heart of my work with founders as a coach lies a simple understanding: all of us are human, first and foremost. Good performance in the boardroom, deep wellbeing, satisfying personal and professional relationships, meaningful life — it all begins with acknowledging, connecting with and feeling our own humanity and humanity of others.

Being human is unconditional. It doesn’t depend on what’s written on the business card or what we see can in the bank account. Choosing to relate to ourselves and others as unconditionally human is a basic attitude towards life that helps us not to get carried away by the stories we tell ourselves.

Deep down, it’s an attitude of love, as I explore in this essay:

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Your guide to the startup founder journey: embracing the CEO role or making a thoughtful decision to step down with clarity and purpose.


Evgeny Shadchnev

Founder coach, ex-CEO of Makers