How to become a CEO before you turn 30
Business degrees are the most popular degree plans by a long shot, and every year, universities turn out hundreds of thousands of driven, knowledgeable, and capable graduates that are ready to unleash their potential onto the world.
Many of them want to learn how to become a CEO.
And why wouldn’t they?
The CEO is the highest position at any company — and the highest-paid. They have the widest berth over financial matters and company direction, and they call the major shots. It’s a prestigious position, to put it mildly.
Do you have what it takes to run a company before you turn 30? Read our checklist to find out if you’re on track to hit the ultimate career goal:
Be Stubborn & Relentless
Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder of the famous dating app, Bumble, was a CEO before turning 30. She said, “Have a dream, chase it down, jump over every single hurdle, and run through fire and ice to get there.”
Without thick skin and a fierce drive to succeed, you’ll never become a CEO. Becoming a CEO involves taking a lot of hits. The market will shift, and competitors will gain an edge over you. Your partners will let you down. Your funding will dry up. Your user acquisition plan will not go as planned.
The list of obstacles is neverending, and if you’re the type of person who can overcome adversity and stay solutions-oriented, then you have what it takes to become a CEO.
Shout Your Dreams From a Mountain
Fellow CEO under 30 Melanie Perkins is the frontwoman of graphic design software Canva and arguably the most successful female CEO Australia has ever produced. She likes to tell young people to “plant lots and lots of seeds, and hopefully one will grow!”
Don’t worry about getting people to sign NDAs about your ideas or hoarding your plans for a select audience. If you’re going to truly make it as a CEO, you’re probably going to have to tell anyone and everyone who will listen about your great ideas.
Build a Winning Network
According to LinkedIn research, 80% of professionals believe that networking is vital to elevating your career. Founder of Dropbox, Drew Houston, said, “surrounding yourself with inspiring people is now just as important as being talented or working hard.”
Drew knew early on that he wasn’t going to make it to the top on his own. Becoming a CEO under 30 took a village, and he built one with Dropbox full of the most talented people he knew. Start making connections early. Help as many people as you can, and you’ll build your own tribe.
Realise You Can’t Do It All
What does a CEO do? The day-to-day CEO duties vary widely, but one thing is consistent: you can’t do everything. In the beginning, you certainly need to be willing to do whatever it takes and not feel beneath any work. But eventually, you have to delegate.
Online payment processing giant, Stripe, had a CEO under 30 in Patrick Collison. He said, “The fraction of things you can be involved in directly, is diminishing almost exponentially…” There are just too many tasks, and you’ll get nowhere if you don’t hire the right people and trust them to do their job.
Focus on Providing Value
Creating customer value enhances the customer experience, boosts customer satisfaction, and improves retention. Without customers, your reign as CEO will be short-lived.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said, “Put your consumers in focus, and listen to what they’re actually saying, not what they tell you.” In the beginning, you can’t focus too much on your CEO salary or what benefits you’ll offer.
You have to put all your attention into providing as much value as possible for the end-user or customer. You need to claw beneath the surface and truly understand not just what people tell you they want, but why they want it.
Do they want music in their pocket? Or do they want to create playlists that will impress their friends at dinner parties? It’s not the feature— it’s the benefit. And if you get that equation right, you’re destined for greatness.
What’s stopping you from taking the next step in your career? Let’s get a conversation going in the comments below: