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| July 19, 2019

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VC-turned-renowned executive coach Jerry Colonna on the unsorted baggage of CEOs

July 4, 2019 |

Jerry Colonna was a good venture capitalist. Still, when he became engulfed in a dangerous depression after the bubble’s burst — owing to the economic crash, to the terrorist attack in New York, to the approach of middle age — he saved himself by leaving VC, a kind of accidental if lucrative profession for him, and by learning how to coach others.

What he tells them from the outset — as he learned about himself firsthand — is that many executives hobble themselves unwittingly out of fear or some other driving force that they have no idea even exists, a driver that has be to identified to be conquered.

Colonna learned, for example, that he associated money with safety, having grown up in a chaotic environment with an alcoholic father, a mother with mental illness, and six siblings who were at times separated and cared for by other family members. Among these were Colonna’s grandparents who owned a building in New York and provided their grandchildren both love — as well as that missing sense of security.

Of course, not everyone has access to Colonna, or his team of roughly 25 other coaches, or to one of his executive bootcamps. It’s for this reason that Colonna recently authored the book “Reboot,” in which he shares many of his own stories while also signaling to readers the importance of recognizing that they aren’t crazy, that much of modern life is a pretense, and that with some introspection, it’s possible to understand the roots of one’s character structure and, perhaps, stop embracing them unconsciously.

We talked with Colonna today about the book in a conference call attended by dozens of Extra Crunch readers. We’ll be releasing a transcript of that call shortly. In the meantime, we wanted to share part of our exchange that centered on the question: are most executives ultimately trying to impress their parents — either living or dead? (Colonna had told us that the first person to come to him for real advice — when Colonna was still advising startups as a board member — was a young attorney who hated his profession but went to law school to please his father.)

In a nutshell, the answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is yes — at least to some degree. “I think most of us are in an interesting dialogue with the belief systems we developed as children, and that most leaders are shaped, consciously or not, by those early belief systems,” he said earlier today. “If you believe the world is a dog-eat-dog world, where everybody is out to get their own, you’re going to unconsciously build an organization that’s filled with self-optimizers. Then you’re going to call a coach and ask, “Geez, why isn’t anyone trusting each other?”

Indeed, Colonna’s view (and he has seen a lot of executives over the years) is that “one of the most important forces of any child’s life are their parents. They shape positively and negatively our whole world view because they give us the sense of love, safety and belonging; they give us our sense of worthiness as human beings.” It’s why when he’s doing his leadership coaching and development work, he works to “really understand the early structures of a person’s life — not so we can spend the entire time therapeutically going through it, but so we can have a context for what they might be struggling with right now.”

It was a wide-ranging chat, touching on whether people can become great leaders without facing some childhood adversity, the reason that coping skills sometimes become impediments, whether millennial leaders have it better or worse than their predecessors, and why the 30s can be the trickiest decade of all for people who are leading organizations.

More on our chat soon, and if you don’t subscribe to Extra Crunch, you can learn more here.


Elon Musk’s tweets prompt SEC official to call for guidelines on CEOs’ social media use

June 14, 2019 |

Robert Jackson, one of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s four commissioners, said the agency should consider publishing new guidance on chief executives’ use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, in the wake of controversies involving Tesla founder Elon Musk.

“Without prejudging…

L.A. Times – Business

Big company CEOs got a 7% raise last year — worth $800,000

May 24, 2019 |

Did you get a 7% raise last year? Congratulations, yours was in line with what CEOs at the biggest companies got. But for chief executives, that 7% was roughly $ 800,000.

Pay for chief executives at S&P 500 companies rose to a median of $ 12 million last year, including salary, stock and other compensation,…

L.A. Times – Business

Want to empower future female CEOs? Then pay up

May 10, 2019 |

In 1989, feminist Arlie Russell Hochschild argued that working women go home to work a “second shift,” performing the majority of the labor involved in caring for their homes and children.

That’s not the only extra shift working women are doing. Some are also being asked to do a second, unpaid…

L.A. Times – Business

Big bank CEOs are about to face angry lawmakers. Their plan: Let Jamie Dimon take over

April 9, 2019 |

There’s a joke going around Washington about the best strategy for the Wall Street chief executives when they face off with lawmakers this week: Stay calm and let Jamie Dimon take over.

Unlike the rest of the bank leaders slated to testify before the House Financial Services Committee, the JPMorgan…

L.A. Times – Business

Report: Trump Denies Getting Apple CEO’s Name Wrong

March 11, 2019 |

Tim Cook saw the funny side after President Trump got his name wrong at a White House last week. The president apparently didn’t. Republican donors who were at an event at Mar-a-Lago Friday tell Axios that Trump claimed he never called Cook “Tim Apple” and said reports saying otherwise were…

Tabloid CEO’s lawyer denies National Enquirer tried to extort Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

February 10, 2019 |

The National Enquirer committed neither extortion nor blackmail by threatening to publish intimate photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, an attorney for the head of the tabloid’s parent company said Sunday.

Elkan Abromowitz, an attorney for American Media Inc. Chief Executive David Pecker, said on Sunday…

L.A. Times – Business

IMF and CEOs say the global economy is slowing faster than expected

January 21, 2019 |

The International Monetary Fund and corporate executives warned Monday that the global economy was slowing faster than expected, establishing a downbeat tone for this week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Hours after the IMF cut its forecasts for the world economy this year and next,…

L.A. Times – Business

Tears, Cheers Follow CEO’s Surprise Reveal

December 18, 2018 |

Working in craft and floral foam may not sound like the most glamorous of jobs, but employees Michigan’s FloraCraft are pretty happy with theirs right now. The company announced almost $ 4 million in bonuses for some 200 full-time employees, who will each receive an average of $ 20,000 in cash…

Top Tech CEOs Bicker Over Chronic Homelessness

October 13, 2018 |

Two of the world’s top tech CEOs are sniping about who’s helping to ease homelessness in San Francisco—a city where extreme wealth glitters alongside roughly 7,500 living on the streets, the Guardian reports. At issue is a proposed tax on wealthy city businesses that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey…