Great CEO Within book review

Vitaliy Mokosiy
4 min readJan 6, 2023

I have recently completed reading the book by Matt Mochary — The Great CEO Within.

Long story short, it’s one of the most practical books in my experience. While reading it, I came up with several great thoughts and implemented half of them in my business life. For example, thinking about meeting effectiveness led to Marketing Demo practice in Atola. Now, this is our internal meeting when engineers present features they designed in the next software/hardware update to the marketing team. I may describe it later on in a distinct blog.

Other than that, here’re my top 10 takeaways from the book.

10 Takeaways

1. The first goal of the company

The first goal of the company should be to achieve real product-market fit (PMF), not vanity metrics that fool people inside and outside the company that PMF has been achieved.

For a B2B company, know that enterprise customers have budgets just for testing new technology and will buy your product to do just that.

2. One of key startup failure reasons

Startups don’t usually fail because they grow too late. They usually fail because they grow too early!

3. Your personal energy audit technique

Get two highlighters, pens, or pencils of different colors (red and green are ideal, but any will do). Print out the last week of your calendar when you were working. Go through each workday hour by hour and ask yourself, “Did that activity give me energy or drain my energy?” Highlight in green those that gave you energy, and highlight in red those that drained your energy. There are no neutrals; every hour must be marked one color or the other. When finished, look for patterns of where and how your energy is drained. Now think of ways to outsource or eliminate those activities.

4. Gratitude

For the cynics out there, being grateful doesn’t mean that you will suddenly ignore all the areas of your life or your company that could use improvement. Just the opposite. It only means that you will bring an attitude of joy, as opposed to desperation, when addressing those areas.

Life and company building don’t have to be hard or painful. Daily gratitude helps us realize that.

5. Irreversible decisions

Irreversible decisions must be finalized by CEO as opposed to reversible ones.

6. Curiosity instead of knowing need

Conscious leaders practice simple ways to question the beliefs that cause suffering, starting with “Is it true?” and “Can I absolutely know it is true?” The turnaround exercise allows leaders to practice shifting their beliefs from knowing to curiosity. When conscious leaders let go of the righteousness of their beliefs, they open to curiosity and align with their deepest desires.

7. Verbal agreements are not impeccable

We all understand words a little bit differently. To make this agreement impeccable, one of the participants writes down the plan and the other adds their initials and a +1 to note their agreement.

8. Kinds of lead generation

  • Seeds — word of mouth. High quality leads. Based on awesome product and customer success team
  • Nets — marketing: events, SEO, ad campaigns. Going for quantity. Inbound reps qualify the leads.
  • Spears — outbound outreach by your outbound reps usually through email or LinkedIn mining. Predictable, hypertargeted but may not be profitable if your average annual deal is under 10K

9. Meetings by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon

Jeff requires that anyone who wants to bring up an issue or proposal must write up the item fully before the decision meeting (with someone else writing up a counterproposal if necessary). The meeting is then spent reading the write-ups. Once the decision-making team has read them all, a decision is made. If consensus is not reached, the pre-appointed decision maker makes the call. If there are still open questions, then the decision maker assigns one or more people to research and, of course, write the needed follow-up. At the end of the next meeting, the decision is made

The write-up should include both a detailed description of the issue and the proposed solution. Someone may say, “I don’t know the answer.” It doesn’t matter. They should take a guess. Even if they have only 10 percent confidence that their answer is a good one. And they should phrase the proposed solution in very bold, directive terms (e.g., “Do this…”)

10. Meetings for the sake of understanding customers

It is particularly important to instill this mind-set in your engineering department, because the engineering department tends to sit the furthest away from the customer and only hears about the customer in abstract terms. The solution is to have customer support and sales leaders distill feedback and meet with the product team once a month to ensure feedback gets in the next cycle

Vitaliy Mokosiy



Vitaliy Mokosiy

CTO in Atola Technology. Gamification enthusiast. Agile proponent