Episode 22: Every Coach Needs a CEO Day

I posted an unplanned picture on my social media accounts a few weeks ago about my CEO day and I received more comments and engagement on that post than I’ve had on any other post in several weeks.The minute I mentioned I was doing a CEO day, I was flooded with a variety of questions and it became clear that I needed to talk about it here on the podcast.
Coach with Clarity Podcast Lee Chaix McDonough

22: Every Coach Needs a CEO Day

Today's episode is inspired by you! I posted an unplanned picture on my social media accounts a few weeks ago about my CEO day and I received more comments and engagement on that post than I've had on any other post in several weeks.

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Show Notes

Today’s episode is inspired by you!

I posted an unplanned picture on my social media accounts a few weeks ago about my CEO day and I received more comments and engagement on that post than I’ve had on any other post in several weeks.

The minute I mentioned I was doing a CEO day, I was flooded with a variety of questions and it became pretty clear that I needed to talk about it here on the podcast.

So, in this episode, I’m walking you through the anatomy of a CEO day.

Topics covered

  • How part of being a powerful coach means showing up powerfully in your business
  • What is a CEO day?
  • What can a CEO day be used for?
  • How I structure the four different types of CEO days I utilize
  • Three tips to help you create your own CEO day to ensure it serves you, your business, and your clients

Resources mentioned

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Well, hi there friend. Welcome to the Coach with Clarity podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough and I'm so grateful that you're joining me for another episode.

And today's episode is inspired by you. So a few weeks ago, I posted a picture on Instagram and then on my Facebook business page about my CEO day. And it's kind of funny because this was not a planned or scheduled post. It was completely impromptu. I was sitting outside on my back deck, getting some work done, and it was just so beautiful outside that I decided to take a quick picture and post it and I received more comments and more engagement on that post than I had on almost any post in weeks. 

The minute I mentioned I was conducting a CEO day, people were fascinated. They wanted to know more about what a CEO day was, what I was working on, what I would have accomplished by the end of the day. And I also heard from people who also implemented CEO days in their business, but wanted to talk about how to make it more effective for them. And that's when I realized, we have to talk about this on the podcast, because part of being a powerful coach is showing up powerfully in your business and knowing what you want to create as you grow and scale your business. 

CEO days are at the heart of my process. Without my CEO days, I would be operating from a place of confusion and disorganization, and really the antithesis of clarity. So that's why for this week's episode, I want to walk you through the anatomy of a CEO day. We are going to talk about what it is and what it can be used for. I'm also going to walk you through how I structure a CEO day, and it varies depending on when I'm conducting it, and what its purpose is. And then we're going to talk about the steps you can take to create your own CEO day to ensure that it serves you, your business and ultimately your clients. I am really excited to give you a behind the scenes look at how I run my business and why having CEO days are such an important part of my business. So let's do this. 

Let's start off by defining what a CEO day is. When you schedule a CEO day. It is time spent devoted to working on your business, not in your business. And that is a very important distinction, especially for those of us who are service providers who do a lot of one on one coaching or group coaching or teaching. Much of the work we do is spent in our business serving our clients, we have to balance that with time devoted to working on our business. And that is what a CEO day can afford you. When you spend that time on your business, it helps ensure that you have a solid action plan that will guide you moving forward. And here's the interesting thing. I have found that by taking a step back from my client work, and by carving out time, especially to concentrate on the behind the scenes elements of my business, it actually saves me time in the long run, because I'm able to devote a concentrated period of time to creating systems and processes and plans that I can then enact almost on autopilot moving forward. So I'm not spending time recreating the wheel. I'm not spending time taking action that's not aligned with my goals and with my values, and so when I'm working in my business, I am much more efficient. So it really pays off in the long run, to spend a few hours or an entire day focusing on the inner workings of your business, because that will help you save time and become more efficient when you are operating in your business as a service provider. I also find that having a CEO day greatly reduces my own anxiety and nervousness about my business. 

When you are an entrepreneur and when you are a solopreneur, in particular, it can sometimes feel overwhelming operating your business – it definitely is the entrepreneurial rollercoaster. One minute you're up and you're excited and you can't wait to create new things for your business. And the next minute you're plummeting down into a spiral of fear and anxiety and uncertainty and “what if”s – it can be really overwhelming. But when you have a CEO day in which you connect with your vision, your mission, your values, and your goals, it gives you not just a sense of purpose, but it gives you direction. You can chart out exactly what you want to create when you want to create it, and it's like having a roadmap to move forward. So it greatly reduces that sense of anxiety and uncertainty that sometimes we feel when we are operating in our business.

The CEO day gives us an opportunity to step outside and get a bird's eye view of our business and create action plans accordingly. And I don't know about you, but when I have a plan, and I know what's coming and I know how to implement it, my anxiety level goes way down. So CEO days are one of the best strategies I know to combat entrepreneurial overwhelm. I use my CEO days to help me develop and refine my vision, mission, and values for my business. It's also an opportunity for me to review my goals and my key performance indicators or my KPIs, I'll talk a little bit more about them in a bit. It also is an opportunity for me to get creative, and to identify future goals or refine the goals that I've already set for myself. And then by the end of my CEO day, I have created a strategic action plan for myself that I can implement and know that I will be making steady solid progress in my business.

The best part is once you create a system for your CEO day, you can repeat it week after week, month after month, quarter after quarter, and year after year to ensure that you are staying on track with your goals and giving yourself an opportunity to dream big and come up with the next big idea for your business. So let me talk a little bit now about how I like to structure my CEO days. But I want to start by saying, this is your CEO day, you get to make it work for you. I'm going to share with you what I've tried and tested, that's worked for me. But I'm going to encourage you to really make this your own. If you hear a strategy that I use that could be really effective in your business, by all means, go ahead and use it. But if you'd like to modify it, if you'd like to change the structure or the format a bit, go for it. I'm all about experimenting and trying new things in your CEO day, because that's how you are going to create something that is highly effective for you. 

So here's an example. When I have a CEO day, I like to have it as one day. I will carve out a day a week, typically Mondays, and that is my day to address all of my CEO activities. However, I have a colleague, Braden Drake, who is a wonderful attorney, you can check him out at BradenDrake.com – that's BradenDrake.com. Braden prefers to structure his CEO day as two half days. And so he will schedule to four-hour blocks every week where he attends to his CEO activities. And that works really well for him and for his schedule. So even with the timing of your CEO days, you can adapt it to make it work for you. You can do it in one full day like I do, you can divide it over two days like Braden does, how often you conduct your CEO days is completely up to you. But I will suggest that if you break it up over multiple days, be sure to give yourself enough time to really get into some deep work. I would say you would want to schedule at least three hours in your CEO time and then ensure that that three-hour block has a specific focus. And we'll talk more about what you might want to focus on in a little bit. But again, I just want to suggest that when you are carving out CEO time, give yourself the spaciousness of that time. Don't try to cram everything in two a single hour. Allow yourself to have a half-day, an afternoon, or a full day to really immerse yourself into the inner workings of your business. I mean it one of the best gifts you can give yourself right now is the gift of time. Because when we have time, when we have that sense of spaciousness and calm, we will be in a much stronger position to make decisions about our business than if we are feeling rushed and pressured. So please give yourself the gift of time. Even if you're only able to carve out one CEO day, a quarter, or a month. I'll take what I can get, but don't rush yourself through this process. In fact, I'm going to suggest that as a part of your CEO day, you consider adding an activity or two that support your process. And that might look like starting your day with exercise, giving yourself time to journal, maybe kicking things off with a meditation. There should be time in your CEO day that supports you and your process. And this is especially important during a full CEO day. Give yourself time to connect with your inner wisdom to ground yourself in your body, because that is going to ensure that you are fully present and aligned for the work that you're about to do. I treat my CEO days like they are really special. They are on my calendar. I look forward to them. It's almost like a spa day for your business. And when you approach your CEO day with that level of excitement and when you treat it like it's a special day, you are increasing the energy surrounding that day, you're entering into it from a place of optimism and hope, because it is a special day and you know that you are about to create some magic in your business. 

Once you've scheduled your CEO day on the calendar, the next step is to decide on the type of CEO day that you are having. In my business, there are four types of CEO days that I schedule, and it's based on the calendar. I have annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly CEO day plans. And depending on the purpose and the timing of my CEO day, I am going to take action accordingly. So I'm going to walk you through each one of those four types of CEO days that I have in my business, and then you'll be able to see how each one has its own purpose, and yet, they're all interconnected. 

So let's start broadly with an annual CEO day. I tend to schedule this towards the end of a calendar year. I really like starting off a new year with a brand new plan. So I will schedule at least one day, if not a couple days during the month of December to devote to annual planning for the upcoming year. So as a part of my annual CEO day, I do a full review of the prior year. I like to review all of my accomplishments. I take a look at the goals that I had set, and I look at how well I achieved them. I also will take a good look at any obstacles or challenges I faced and take note of any lessons learned that I might be able to apply to my business moving forward. So I start with a broad overview of my victories. And my lessons learned, and then I will review my KPIs or my key performance indicators. 

So my key performance indicators are the things that I measure in my business that show me whether I am making progress and whether I am reaching my goals. So my KPIs are generally data-driven and they are quantifiable. So there are numbers that I can look at that show me whether I am hitting my targets or not. Every business will have different KPIs based on your priorities and your goals. So if you are a new coach and you're just starting out, some KPIs you might want to track of are the number of referral contacts you're making in a given week or a given month, the number of potential clients you are having conversations with, the number of clients that have signed on to work with you, and your revenue. Those are examples of some very simple yet important measures that you can track to assess your progress in your business. And what you'll find is that your KPIs are often related to each other. So if you have a month where you are not making many referral contacts and you're not having many conversations with potential clients, that will probably be reflected in next month's new client numbers and revenue. So when you establish and review your KPIs, you can start to see exactly how they support and grow your business and maybe where you need to be paying a little more attention. As your business grows, you may find that the KPIs you're tracking change as well. So for example, now that I have the Coach with Clarity Membership, one of my KPIs are the number of new members that are joining every month or the number of monthly renewals. I'm also looking at the emails that I'm sending to my list. I'm looking at open rates. So how many people actually open the email that I send, and I'm also looking at click through rates. So if I have a link to the membership, or to my podcast – how many people are actually clicking through those links. So those are examples of other key performance indicators in my business, because I know that the more people who are reading my emails and engaging by clicking to my website, the more likely I am to bring them into my world via the membership or another offer. So as your business grows, you'll find that your KPIs may need to change. And so I have made that a part of my annual CEO day process. I am not just looking at the measures from the key performance indicators, but I'm also deciding whether it's time for me to revise, remove, or add new KPIs in. 

So we've done a full review of the prior year, we've looked at the KPIs and we started thinking about if there are any new ones that we need to add, or if I need to revise any existing ones. We've looked at some key takeaways through challenges and life lessons, and then I take some time to review my organizational values, vision, and mission to ensure that it still feels aligned with the work that I'm doing. My values, vision, and mission, provide a general direction for where I'm heading in my business. And then I give myself permission to dream big. I imagine what I want my business to look like in ten years, five years, three years, and then specifically over the next year, and this is where as part of my annual CEO day, I can really move into planning for the next year. So I'm getting really clear on my one year vision and on what I want my business to look like in six months, and with my one year and six-month plans, I can then start creating some goals to work towards. Once I have an idea of what I want to achieve, then I take a step back and I look at everything that I have accomplished so far from my review of last year, all the way through my goal setting for the upcoming year. And based on all of that, I choose a word or a phrase that becomes my anchor point for the following year. So I know many of you probably do this as well, perhaps you have a word of the year, or you have a phrase or a mantra that you hold close for the upcoming year. I do that and I make that an intentional part of my annual CEO day, and I choose to do it at the conclusion of my CEO day because it's a distillation of everything that I've worked on and everything that I'm heading towards boards. So that's a little bit about how I structure an annual CEO day. 

I start with a broad review of what I've accomplished and what I've learned. And then I review my KPIs to see how they have supported that process. I then take another look at my values, vision, and mission for my business to ensure that I'm still feeling aligned with that. And then from there, I allow myself to dream big for the upcoming year and beyond. I start to create some general goals. And I choose a word or a phrase that will guide me for the remainder of the year. So that's my annual CEO day and again, I typically schedule it for a day, maybe even two days in December. 

Now I want to talk a little bit about what my quarterly CEO day looks like, and as the name would suggest, this is a type of CEO day that I schedule once per quarter. Ideally, I like to schedule it at the end of the final month of the quarter. So for example, I tend to schedule them at the end of March, June, September, and December, because then I'm able to do some end of quarter review and plan for the next quarter. I find that my quarterly CEO days are a distilled version of my annual CEO days. So I start every quarterly CEO day by reviewing my vision, my mission, and my values, again, to make sure that I'm feeling aligned with them, and that there have been no significant changes. Then I'm going to take a good look at what I've accomplished over the last quarter. Again, I start with qualitative data. So I'm looking at my wins my victories, my challenges, my obstacles, and I'm just getting kind of an overall picture of what the quarter was like. I then move into quantitative data. So I'm looking at my KPIs, I'm looking at revenue, and I take a lot of time looking at my quarterly financials. For me, that's one big difference between my annual CEO day and my quarterly CEO day. In my annual CEO day, I'm certainly setting revenue goals and making some projections, but I find my quarterly CEO days are the perfect opportunity for me to really get into the financials of my business to see what products or services are performing well, what my clients are responding to, and I'm also able to look at trends to see if there's a particular month, or time of month, where I'm having better outcomes than others. So I do spend a fair amount of time during my quarterly CEO days getting really into the financial health of my business. 

Once I've completed the review of the past quarter, then I'm checking back in with those one year and six-month goals that I set for myself during my annual CEO day. I make sure that we're still on or if we're not, I revise them accordingly. And again, that's the thing about CEO days is that they give you the opportunity to revisit previous goals and revise them as needed because a lot can happen in three months, and you may find that in that three month period, you've made a pretty significant shift in your business – and that's okay. Now you can give yourself time to ensure that that change is reflected in your goals and in your action plan. Once I'm clear on what I want to accomplish over the next six months, I then identify what I call my quarterly benchmarks. 

My quarterly benchmarks are the things I want to achieve in that quarter to keep me on track to my six-month and my one-year goals. So I generally choose three quarterly benchmarks, I find any more than three and my attention and focus gets a little too diffuse and I'm not able to give the attention and time to the projects that are needed. So I recommend limiting yourself to three quarterly benchmarks or three milestones you want to achieve that quarter. In order to ensure that you stay on track to your goals. I then create an action plan for each of my quarterly benchmarks. I know what needs to happen, and I know when each thing needs to happen by and then it goes on my calendar. So I have taken this plan, I have drilled down to the exact things I need to accomplish. I've given them a due date, and that due date goes on the calendar. Now I have structure for my quarter, and I know exactly what I'm working towards and when I'm accomplishing it. Now, I know this might sound like a lot, and that's why I use a system to help me in the creation of my goals, my benchmarks, and my action plan. I call it Clarity Mapping and it's a tool that I use with my own private clients, and it's a tool that I make available within the Coach with Clarity Membership. It walks you through pretty much everything we've talked about for this quarterly CEO day. So that at the end, you have a concise action plan that you know exactly how to implement in order to achieve your goals. So, if you are interested in learning more about the Clarity Mapping process, definitely check out the Coach with Clarity Membership or if you'd like support in implementing Clarity Mapping in your own business, then a half-day intensive might be for you. And if that's something you'd like to explore, head to CoachwithClarity.com/coaching to learn more about my private coaching services. 

Okay, so we have covered an annual CEO day and we have covered a quarterly CEO day. Let's talk about a monthly CEO day. So, every month I block out time on my calendar and I'm really looking at how my quarterly action plan is playing out in my business. So again, I'm reviewing my KPIs, I'm looking at those benchmarks I've created, and I'm deciding what needs to be my focus for the month. My monthly focus should be aligned with one or more of my benchmarks. And I asked myself the questions, “What needs to be prioritized?” and “What needs to be parked?”. I want to make sure that anything that I'm doing this month, any action that I'm taking any launches that I'm planning, they should be aligned with a benchmark. And if I have an idea, or a desire or a new thing that I want to create, I really need to evaluate whether it's going to get me closer to my goal. And if not, then it needs to go into the parking lot for a bit. Now, it doesn't mean that I don't take action on it, but it means that that becomes a secondary priority and that gets my time and attention only after I've accomplished the things that are in line with my benchmarks. I am giving myself a little space and time to explore and be creative but I want to make sure that these new ideas don't pull me off track. So they get written down and they get placed in the parking lot, and those are the ideas I can return to once I have already accomplished my benchmark activities. 

I then update my calendars and any to-do lists that I have running, and I do a general review of my systems and processes. So I will look at my client onboarding system or my podcast content creation calendar, those types of regularly occurring systems to ensure that they are still serving me in my business. So that's what I do during a monthly CEO day, and then when I have weekly CEO days, I find that they tend to be more of a blend of the type of work I've talked about already – the working on your business – and then a little bit of administrative work as well.

So every week during my CEO time, this is when I gather the data I need to measure my key performance indicators. So remember how I talked about my email open rates and the number of new members? I do spend some time collecting that data so that I can enter it in a spreadsheet and then have it easily available to review at my monthly and quarterly CEO days. I'm also looking at my calendar and planning my week, I'm updating my finances, I'm paying bills, I'm reconciling accounts, and this is also my time to do some batching tasks. So for example, I may use this time to schedule my social media for the week or work on my podcasts. This is also a great time for me to plan the emails that I send out to my email list every week. So my weekly CEO days tend to be more of a blend between planning and high-level strategy and then actually getting some of that more administrative behind the scenes work done.

So I've just walked you through the four different types of CEO days I have in my business –  annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly. And what I hope you've noticed is that it is a stacked approach. So each type of day connects to the level above it. So for example, my quarterly CEO day is highly connected to my annual CEO day. I use the planning and the visioning that I did during my annual day to inform my quarterly day, and then when I have a monthly CEO day, I ensure that it's aligned with what I've planned during my quarterly day. And I really like the strategy because it ensures that yes, I have all of this big picture visioning and planning that I've done for the entire year, and by distilling it down, I can ensure that the actions that I'm taking on a monthly and even a weekly basis are still in alignment with my big picture vision. So that's why I like this stacked approach to my CEO days. It ensures that my high-level strategy makes its way to my day to day operations. 

The other thing I want to mention is that because I spend so much time planning on an annual and a quarterly level, it actually reduces the amount of time I need to plan on a monthly and a weekly level. So as I mentioned before, I definitely like to carve out an entire day for my quarterly planning, and for my annual planning. My annual planning sometimes takes more than one day. But because I've invested that amount of time at the front end, when it comes time to do my monthly and weekly CEO days, I actually find I don't necessarily need an entire day for that work. I can often accomplish my monthly CEO day in a half-day, and that's also why my weekly CEO day tends to be a blend of planning and administrative duties. So I know some of you may be listening to this podcast thinking, “This is a lot of CEO days, do you ever have time to actually work in your business with your clients?” And the answer is yes because I am maximizing the efficiency of my higher-level CEO days, those annual and quarterly days. So that when it comes time to do the monthly and then the weekly implementation, I've already got that action plan, and really, it's just about revising, scheduling, and moving forward with the plan. So I want to share three quick tips to help you make sure that your CEO days work for you and support your business. 

So Tip #1 is to schedule it as a non-negotiable. When you block out a CEO day in your calendar, that is what it's for. I don't want you scheduling client time during it. Think of your business as one of your clients and your business has scheduled a session with you. We are going to treat this time and honor it just as we would a session with our clients because our business deserves our time and attention too. So when you schedule that CEO day, block it out, honor that time, and really commit to doing the work on your business. So that's Tip #1, put it in your calendar as a non-negotiable. 

Tip #2 is to create systems that you use with every CEO day, and those systems may look different based on the type of CEO day you're implementing. So for example, in my annual CEO day, I combined my Clarity Mapping tool with other tools that I find helpful and effective. For example, Danielle LaPorte has a program called The Desire Map, and Amber McCue of The Planathon has a yearly planner that I also really like. So I will take activities and elements from all of those and blend them together to create an approach that works for me. I also use my Clarity Mapping process for all of my quarterly CEO days, and then when it comes to monthly and weekly CEO days, that's where I have spreadsheets where I track my KPIs and my systems and processes, and I will look to those spreadsheets to provide guidance. So that's my second tip for you is to determine which systems and processes will support you during your CEO days.

And my third and final tip (Tip #3) is to get a buddy and treat it like a co-working date. My CEO dates are private time, it's where it's just me, myself, and I working on my business. But there's something really calming and supportive about knowing that one of my colleagues is doing exactly the same type of work in their business, right at the same time. So even though we are working independently, we're doing it together and that provides support, it provides accountability, and it keeps me motivated. Plus, then at the end of the day, you can check back in with your buddy and talk about everything that you have planned for your business in the upcoming months, quarters, and years. So, Tip #3 is to consider partnering with a friend or a colleague and schedule your CEO days at the same time so that you can check in with each other and be there to support each other along the way. 

So we've covered a lot in today's episode, I've walked you through what a CEO day is, what it can look like in your business, how you can structure it based on whether it's an annual, quarterly, monthly, or weekly CEO day and I shared some tips to help you implement it so that you will see success in your business. I think now is the perfect time for the Clarity in Action moment. 

Okay, my friend. Today's Clarity in Action moment is a pretty simple one, but it is going to have a significant effect on your ability to implement CEO days in your business. All I want you to do is pull out your calendar and schedule your CEO days right now – I'm going to suggest that you start by scheduling your quarterly, and your monthly CEO days. Those are really the priority. So get them on your calendar now, and carve out that time, and commit to yourself right now that you will honor the time that you have scheduled for your next CEO day. You may even want to spend that first CEO day coming up with the systems and the processes that will support you moving forward. And again, if you would like support with that, definitely check out my Clarity Mapping process. It is available within the Coach with Clarity membership, and if you'd like some personalized one on one support in implementing the Clarity Mapping process, then definitely consider enrolling in one of my half-day VIP Intensives. I generally conduct only one or two Intensives a month. So, if you are interested in learning more about that you can head to CoachwithClarity.com/coaching, and be sure to sign up for a consult and we'll talk about whether it's the right fit for you. 

Alright, my friends, thank you so much for joining me for this week's episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast! I hope you find it helpful. I cannot wait to hear about your next CEO day and what you're able to accomplish. So be sure to head to the Facebook group and let me know when you've scheduled your CEO day. You can head to CoachwithClarity.com/facebookgroup to join or come find me at Instagram @CoachwithClarity. And again I want to know when your next CEO day is so I can cheer you on. All right, friend. I will be back in your feed next week with another episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast. This one is going to be a coaching call so it is going to be a lot of fun. I hope you'll join me then and until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough and I am reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.

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