Nov 28, 2011

What does it take to become a CEO?

I was done checking my emails, signed-out on Yahoo, and was about to hit bed when a news article on the Yahoo! home page attracted my attention. The title read "I did not want to wait till 40 to be a CEO" and I opened it. It later turned out to be the success story of a economics grad named Ishita who at the age of just 25 become the CEO of the company she founded: Although I did not login, it looked like another online apparel shopping website. I liked the article, appreciated the woman for taking that initiative at such an young age. I was about to close my laptop before which I scrolled the page downwards only to get tickled by the comments on the page. 

There was more dispraise than words of recognition/encouragement. People literally vented out at her saying many negative things like "they cheat", "never deliver on time", or even worse - "never deliver at all". One said "This is paid news .... to attract people on this site ... there are lot of e-retail shops in market .. nothing is new ....". Of all the negative comments, there was one guy who wrote a blatant rant (which received 16 thumbs-up) that went like this:

I don’t know what people want to show….Being a CEO at the age of 20, 25 etc..Became fashion these days. Its not a big deal. You can also be a CEO or entrepreneur by just investing Rs 499. Create your own website in just Rs 499. and you will be owner of this site ..CEO and Entrepreneur. The main thing is your or companies turnover and faith of customer on your product or services

There were many agitations to that comment and among all that, I liked this response.
With rs 499 u can be CEO , but yahoo wont launch a´news about you buddy. be sport, clap for that lady. ( meanwhile i have question do you own a company? ) 

Absolutely true. I realized that reading news article comments is a more interactive activity than reading that news article itself. There was optimism, naivety, praise and dispraise, all over the same topic. While I was patiently reading all that, it suddenly struck me, "What does it take to become a respectable CEO?".  Why people could not accept the fact that she is a CEO? Even be it, a paid news. What is the image that comes to their mind when the see the word CEO? I contemplated over it, lost my intent to sleep during the process, and that's when I started writing this blog.

I think that 499 guy is right. Google offers domain registrations for just $10 an year and any one can start a .com site. My blog is hosted on a custom domain and I pay a similar amount. Just because I registered it as, I cannot say I am a CEO. If this blog is a simple online log of my life experiences, my other blog is not. I started with a specific purpose, which is to share my technical knowledge in a friendly way for the people of my state. Though I founded it I saying myself as a CEO of that will sound odd and even absurd (Atleast, to me it does!). So the basic question still remains unanswered. How come a CEO receives respect?

At 25, you will be very immature and adventurous. Only at 40 you will think about loss, wrote one person. So is AGE a factor the prevents people from respecting a CEO? I remember writing about the world's youngest CEO who started his company at the age of 14. Here is Suhas Gopinath for you.

I don't even know your company name. How can you be so boastful about being a CEO?, wrote another. So only the CEOs of renowned shopping websites are CEOs and not-so-famous-ones are not? How many of you know that John Donahoe is the CEO of EBay? or Jeff Bezos is the CEO of Even I just now googled and found out!

Does the fact that is not so big a player as a or a is in India obstruct people? Does the CEO of Pepsi. Co deserves more respect than a state-based Mango juice manufacturer? Both of them play the same role. They manufacture liquids which people consume. So the volume of the business makes a difference?

This is a tricky one. If your company owns very high market share, you are a big time CEO. As of August 2011, Microsoft Windows has approximately 82.58% of the market share of the client operating systems. So the Microsoft CEO deserves all due credit? What about the beautiful Apple OS? Their share is only 10.4% and the audacious Linux is not even 2%. This brings another topic to the table: Reputation.

You like Steve Ballmer more or Bill Gates? I will go with Gates because I have seen what he brought to the world and Steve is yet to make miracles. Or tell me how much admire like Steve Jobs? the man who triggered the iRevolution? Do you know who preceded Jobs? Probably not. Only those who closely followed Apple know that Tim Cook is his successor. He is the exact same position now at Apple, as Jobs did but he certainly don't have that much followers yet. 

Do you think a CEO should be a Visionary? The dictionary neither says so nor expect his company to have all the above above attributes I discussed. It just says "The corporate executive responsible for the operations of the firm; reports to a board of directors".

Everyone faces failure at some point of time in their life. It is a proven lesson that helps them do better in the next time they do it. This girl may be just 25, and her company may not be so famous, and they could have delayed your shipping orders. These are all just not reasons to drown them down.

There is no CEO who reached fame overnight. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded HP in a one-car garage. 70 years later, HP has now become the World's largest PC Manufacturer. Mark Zuckerberg started in his college dormitory. Here is another garage story of Apple. Sam Walton, of WallMart fame started his venture with a small retain store in 1960, which expanded and went on to become the largest retailer of the world today. There are many entrepreneurs who work with sheer determination and ambitions. They may go on to become the next Bill Gates or Henry Ford. Encourage them, or at least stop demotivating them.  PERIOD.

Btw, here is the news article that took my sleep away.


  1. There would be detractors everywhere. Just ignoring them would do the trick.

    Nithin AC

  2. Lets just say that 'those who have tried, know how hard it is'.. Those who haven't, can only speculate.. :P


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