Episode 80: What Makes An Effective CEO, With Tim Cameron-Kitchen

What You Will Learn:

  • How Tim initially got involved in web design and built out his marketing and SEO business, Exposure Ninja, specializing in small and medium-sized businesses
  • How Tim’s past as a professional drummer taught him that monetizing your passion can cause you to feel overwhelmed by the thing you used to love
  • How Tim scaled Exposure Ninja beyond doing everything himself, first by hiring people to shore up his weaknesses and then by hiring even for the things he is strong in
  • What key lessons Tim learned about leaving behind the entrepreneurial mindset and what makes an effective CEO
  • How Tim manages a team of over one hundred people and keeps everyone focused, aligned to the company’s Vision, and coordinated to make progress
  • How Tim dealt with his imposter syndrome and learned why coaching his team members was vital for the growth of the organization
  • How Tim helps other members of his team make the same important realizations about delegation and leading that he learned
  • What strategies does Tim employ to keep growing in his role as a leader, and how does he identify areas he wants to focus on in his growth
  • How Exposure Ninja’s shared Values are essential to their success, and how Tim and his leadership team have consciously built a large, effective team


About Tim Cameron-Kitchen:

Tim Cameron-Kitchen is a Digital Marketing expert and Head Ninja at Exposure Ninja. Exposure Ninja works and consults with businesses in every imaginable market around the world, helping them increase their website rankings, traffic, and profit. Tim has worked in Digital Marketing since 2005, setting up Exposure Ninja in 2012.

Tim’s five bestselling digital marketing books, online courses, seminars, and the Exposure Ninja podcast teach tens of thousands of businesses each year. Tim is a regular speaker at the B2B Marketing Expo at London’s Excel and private seminars and workshops.

When he’s not Ninja-ing, Tim tries to persuade his son Luca to come to the cricket with him, going to the gym with his wife, or fixing the destruction caused by three cat children, Ninja, Samurai, and Shinobi.



Website: https://exposureninja.com/

YouTube: www.youtube.com/exposureninja

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/timcameronkitchen/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/exposure-ninja/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ExposureNinja

Twitter: @timninjakitchen

Twitter: @ExposureNinja


Additional Resources:

Elite Business Health Assessment: https://growwithelite.com/health

Email: info@GrowWithElite.com

Website: https://growwithelite.com/

Listen to the podcast here


I’m super excited to have with us our guest, Tim Cameron-Kitchen. He is the Head Ninja and CEO at Exposure Ninja, which is a full-service digital marketing agency. Tim is based out of the UK but he has a virtual team with people all over the place and they serve customers in the small and medium-sized businesses everywhere. Welcome to our show, Tim. Thank you for joining us.

Thanks, Brett. It’s an honor to be here.

Why don’t you give a little bit more context or color to my introduction to Exposure Ninja so that people have the framing in mind as we get to talk here?

I won’t give you the whole origin story but I’m an ex-professional drummer. I built a website for my next-door neighbor. I did a good job for him and I decided to move into web design. That was back in 2011. I built a bunch of sites and got them ranked at the top of Google, where a book about it and that grew Exposure Ninja.

Fast forward to now, there are 100 of us. We have teams across web development, SEO, content marking, pay-per-click, advertising social media, and email marketing. I’m sure I would have forgotten someone and they’re going to hit me up when they see this episode. We’re a full-service digital marketing agency, mostly working with small and medium-sized businesses building websites, getting them ranked, and driving leads to them.

With all that great digital marketing goodness that you guys do, the thing that caught my attention was the drummer comment. You in passing professional drummer. That’s pretty awesome. It’s too bad we don’t have a good way to highlight and promote those skills here.

I have some drum videos online. It’s a lot easier to get views for drumming videos. It has to get more views than marketing videos. Some of these are doing reasonably well. When people say if you follow your passion, it will never work a day in your life. There’s a phrase something along those lines and I found it to be completely untrue. It’s because I managed to turn not only drumming but the specific piece of drumming that I loved, which was recording for people. I managed to turn that into a job and it was the worst thing because every time I sat down to engage in my passion, I wasn’t doing it because I loved it. I was doing it because I had to do this thing to get paid. It sucked the life out of it completely for me. It was quite an interesting experience. I’m glad I did it but I’m glad I’m not doing it.

I’m going to take advantage of that as a little springboard to our conversation because it triggered a thought for me. What you said triggered a thought for me that many of our audience started as drummers, marketers, physicians, or whatever their craft is. They know something well. Maybe they’re passionate about that and sometimes, we manage to turn that into a job. The four-letter version of the job where we dread going to do that thing on Monday morning. It is a shame that it turns out to be that way. One of the reasons that happens is we grow that into a meaningful thing. There’s more weight to it, we don’t know how to organize work, build the team, and start to let go of some things so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

You’ve clearly done that with Exposure Ninja. You said you have 100 people on the team across all these different time zones. Let’s start there if you don’t mind. Why don’t you talk about the transition for you? You built a successful seven-figure business. At some point, you had to realize, “I can’t do this all on my own. It’s going to overwhelm and consume me. I got to add team members and let go of responsibilities.” What was that transition like for you? What did you learn in the process that might help some of our audience?

This ties back to the following your passion thing. You have to develop a new identity for yourself. When I was drawing my identity, how I saw myself as a drummer and my self-worth was a touch to how good I can play drums and how I can make people feel with my drum tracks. When I started Exposure Ninja, my self-worth became attached to how good am I building these websites, getting them ranked, and how much the clients respect me for that. You can get a lot of satisfaction from changing people’s lives with whatever you’re doing like a photographer position or whatever. That also holds you back because that keeps you in that role. It’s such an E-Myth cliché about the practitioner needing to move out to be a business owner.

You have to develop a new identity for yourself when following your passion. Click To Tweet

That does need to be a divorce with your old identity. When I first started Exposure Ninja, the first stage was me doing everything and then I started hiring people to run the processes that I developed. I was still king of the castle then because they were following my processes so I felt good about that. We then started hiring people that could do things that I had blind spots in or I sucked up. This was counselor recruitment and that type of thing or even particular areas of digital marketing that I didn’t have a huge amount of knowledge with. Over time, I started having to put people in places to do the things that I’d consider my strengths. A couple of years ago when we were a couple of million in revenue, I was still doing a lot of sales myself.

That’s how I got my validation. I may not be doing all of these things anymore or I may not be getting the results, but I’m hunting the thing. I’m dragging it back for the team and I’m saying, “Here you go. Everyone is a hero.” That’s how I got my validation whereas there comes a point when you realize that you don’t have time to do the sales. What if there are people who are better at sales than me? All of a sudden, I find that I’ve given away every piece of my identity that’s tied up in this business. What am I? I’m the figurehead.

I made a video back in October 2019 when I finally handed it over to a sales manager of our sales team. That was my last direct responsibility in the company. I called the video I’m Now Redundant and that was partly clickbait. That was how I felt because I didn’t see what my role was because I’ve taken away all of these individual pieces. It’s extremely understandable from my perspective why businesses would struggle to grow and why the leaders would unintentionally hold them back because it’s such a personal experience and I don’t think there’s any way around that.

You intelligently articulated what we see over and over again with business owners. You talked about it as divorcing your identity or there’s a separation from where you used to find your self-worth, now you’ve given that to somebody else. You keep having to reinvent yourself and where that sense of contribution and meaningful work comes from. That transition from entrepreneur to CEO is hard. A lot of entrepreneurs don’t even like the title CEO. They’re anti-CEO. That’s big business, stuffy whatever.

I’m not advocating for that title but what I am saying is there’s a shift from doer to leader to then leader of leaders. It keeps happening where you have to reinvent yourself. You have to shed the old identity in order to move forward. Now, if you’re happy with where you’re at, don’t do anything different. Stay but if you want this thing to be able to continue to grow and have more reach and impact in the world, you have to change as a person and you described that so well.

It’s interesting what you say about the name because I called myself Head Ninja for the first seven years of the business. I was like, “I need to be CEO,” even though that sounds corporate. It’s the opposite of the one-man companies that you see on LinkedIn where they’re the Founder and CEO of TimCK Consulting. I had a reluctance to step into the CEO role because it felt overly corporate. If you treat the CEO role with respect and you treat it as if you’re auditioning and developing to get into that role, then it’s an important thing. Our company needs a CEO. It hadn’t had a CEO for the first seven years of the business. That was a deficiency on my part. It’s a small thing but it’s a massive thing.

EEP 80 | Effective CEO

Effective CEO: If you treat the CEO role with respect and treat it as if you’re auditioning and developing to get into that role, it’s an important thing.


I love the name, by the way. Head Ninja is great. It’s fascinating how in the name itself, you see the head doer or the head expert. It’s fun for you. I like it. You’re still calling yourself Head Ninja even though you’re out of that, but that transition is real. It’s hard for business owners to let go of that thing.

There’s so much in that Head Ninja. What does that tell you? It says that I don’t want to be identified at a different level from my team because I’m the CEO. All of a sudden, there’s an authority there. There are all sorts of implications and that like. Who am I to tell them what to do? There’s self-doubt and all this type of stuff that comes right up in that. It’s a deeply important and personal time moving into that transition. It’s been fascinating to watch myself.

You described what had to happen well and some of the changes for you. Maybe you haven’t reflected on this enough to pull them out but was there anything in that journey that helped you take those steps to be able to transition from doer to leader? What was helpful for you as you tried to make that transition?

One of the big things was listening to the team and realizing that they wanted a CEO or a leader. As entrepreneurs, we are a single person unless you’re a complete psycho. It has various areas that you know you’re inferior. You touch oversized importance too. For me, I’m not the most organized person. We’ve got a great management team where an organization has a strong skillset. Part of my reluctance to move into CEO was like, “Who am I to tell these amazing organized people?” They can make spreadsheets. They’re geniuses.

One of the most important parts of the transition was listening to them and hearing that they wanted a business strategy. They needed to know where the organization was going and that by me stepping into CEO, it’s not me climbing over them and pushing them down. It’s me saying, “Someone has got to lead this rubble. It’s me. Let’s go.” That’s a positive thing. They want that. They’re happy with this. They don’t see it as I’m on some crazy power trip. Knowing that your position is justified was an important part. I’m probably the biggest piece. I personally had to get over it.

You don't climb over others and push them down when stepping into the CEO role. You must lead this rubble. Click To Tweet

We talked about making this transition to CEO. What does the work look like now? When you spend your time as CEO versus a doer getting in, solving problems, bringing on new clients, and fulfilling the services, what does it look like when you spend more time in this leadership role? What kinds of activities are happening there?

The answers to this question are also something that always made me suspicious of CEOs because they say things like, “I set the strategy for the company.” I’m like, “That’s not more than a twenty-minute thing every quarter.” There’s a big answer. My job is to make sure everyone in the company is aligned with our vision, understand our values, and make sure that the strategic direction of the company is right. That is planning. It’s recording updates. It’s checking in with people not necessarily on a management check-in but more on a vision check-in, joining team meetings to talk about what we’re doing and why. It’s looking at new opportunities, things to go to the new territories, conquer it, and that type of thing.

I also have some smaller views of things. I never want to get too detached from the front line. I don’t want to get sucked into doing but I need to know what’s going on because maybe it’s a control freak or this is something I’ll have systems and stuff to check. I like that every so often, be involved in a client call, go check in, do some feedback calls, or something like that. I understand the struggles that our customers are going through. I can make sure that our strategy is sympathetic and works with that. Also, the struggles that our team is going through. One of the things I’ve noticed that’s useful for me to do is to coordinate cross-team solutions to things or quite departmental in our structure at the moment.

The next challenge that we have as an organization is to increase the integration between all different teams and that shows up as friction between different teams. One of the things I can be useful for is giving ideas and helping teams to integrate more closely together. My calendar will look quite different each week whereas when I was at a worker bee. My calendar looked the same each week for different client names. That’s it which is an ambiguous answer. That is why I always gave CEOs a bit of a wide berth. What’s the responsibility of the CEO’s strategic direction? It’s like, “That’s not a job, is it?” It turns out that it is.

There’s a lot to do there. You said so much. It’s not that it was ambiguous. It’s that you hit on several key points and I’m going to have a hard time remembering each one. I was like, “I want to say something about that.” At least a couple of them. Let’s start with this setting the vision on the big set-the-vision kind of guy. You have to line the team to it.

If you think about this, you have 100 ninjas now. You have all these people and they’re across multiple time zones. It’s spread out. Even if you’re in the same physical location, there are still 100 people optimizing for the chair that they sit in. There’s not one other person in the business, aside from you, who’s looking out over the hole to see how to coordinate all of this and keep people aligned to the main thing.

It’s easy because of the chaos of business. The business naturally breeds chaos and confusion. Somebody has got to help coordinate to make sure we’re taking targeted coordinated action. If you aren’t playing that role, you’re going to have 100 people doing their best, even if they’re well-intentioned, to optimize what they know. It might not be well coordinated. It’s an important role that you’re playing and I loved hearing how you described it to make sure that as one body, one unified team, we all know where we’re headed and how we’re going to get there.

Business naturally breeds chaos and confusion that somebody must help coordinate to ensure we're taking targeted, coordinated action. Click To Tweet

Every person knows their role in that. The separate teams know their role and despite all the alignment work that you do, these friction moments happen that you talked about. If there’s somebody throws a piece of work over the wall to somebody else and it’s not well coordinated, this team thinks this is the best direction to go. We’re going to go left and the other team thinks now we’re trying to go right. There’s some confusion about the alignment to the strategy or the bigger vision.

It is a full-time role for somebody like you as a business owner who’s elevated out of that doer role to make sure we’re all aligned and taking targeted coordinated action as one team. Human nature is for us to go to bed at night and we wake up with a reset button a little bit. For our own sanity probably, but then we get off track sometimes with the alignment and we have to be brought back continually to the main thing. I probably went too long. You’re our guest but you unleashed a bunch of excitement in me because you’re describing perfectly what has to happen.

If you had told me when I was a drummer that I’d be running a 100-person company, I would have thought that’s absolutely no way. The mistake that I would have made there that would have filled me with fear would be the thought that running a 100-person company is 100 times as stressful as running a 1-person company. What I’ve learned is that I might see the vision as my job, but I didn’t even set the vision that we’re working towards. I facilitated the meeting with our leadership team and we, as a group, came up with that. From embedding it, I helped them with what they needed to do for it. They are the enforcers in their team. Enforcer is a harsh word.

We’ll call it a leader. They’re leading.

It’s setting the framework for vision to diffuse through the company. You can feel quite intimidating. If I’ve got all these 100 cats running around, I have to make sure that each one of them is lined and pulling in the same direction. I’ve got ten cats and they’re very intelligent and brilliant cats. They each got ten cats of their own so then it becomes much more manageable.

I’m glad you said that because some of our audience are thinking I have eight cats right now and they’re all headaches. I can’t imagine what 16 would look like, let alone 100. That’s part of that transition that you went through. You host seven figures. You could have done that on your own so you assembled, we haven’t talked about it directly but you alluded to it, a leadership team. A team of capable leader cats.

I don’t know why I’m stuck on cats but it’s a great way of thinking about it. Some of our audience are going, “That’s crazy talk. Employees are headaches.” I don’t think you see your people as just employees. You see them as very capable team members under very capable leaders or working with very capable leaders who have co-created a vision that we’re all pulling towards together and that makes it doable.

I don’t know if this is a common experience but I found about fifteen people, is what I call the sweet spot of hell, where you don’t yet have managers. You’ll still directly managing a lot of people. You don’t have enough people where you can have team leaders and managers in place but you’ve got too many that you can individually give oversight to. After that, it probably only gets, maybe not easier, but certainly simpler. You’re right. I’m constantly amazed at how amazing our people are. Once someone feel secure, they feel they know what they need to do in their job, they know what good looks like and the direction they’re going in, and why they’re going in there.

EEP 80 | Effective CEO

Effective CEO: Once someone feels secure and knows what they need to do in their job, what good looks like, and the direction they will go and why.


People are so unbelievably brilliant. I look around at the team at Exposure Ninja. I’m like, “How are these guys working?” I don’t say for me but, “How are these guys working with me? How do they tolerate this chaos or this disorganization?” What else are they going to do? They might work in a company that gives them less freedom or responsibility. We’ve all got to work to say, “That was me.” “Brilliant. Let’s make the most of it and let’s do something awesome together.”

You seem to be the person that people want to be around. Good on you for that. Let’s talk about other lessons that you learned because setting the vision and coordinating the effort was helpful. It’s super valuable for our audience. What other lessons might you have had to learn about the structure you put in place to make sure all of this was going forward? I don’t mean the organizational structure. I mean leadership processes, systems, or anything along those lines that you had to learn.

To argue with myself on the last point about people being brilliant if you give them freedom and stuff like that, what happened early on is I noticed that people were awesome and amazing. If you hire the right person, they could be fantastic with very little input. Probably for the first 6 or 7 years of the business, I gave people almost no coaching which comes back to the identity and the confidence crisis. Who am I to teach these brilliant people what to do? There was another piece of learning that had to be around coaching someone even if you’re not as good at them as everything. I remember watching this documentary Usain Bolt. Usain Bolt is running in this Jamaican running track and his coach is there.

I’d always thought, “How could you coach Usain Bolt unless you’re faster than him?” Who could possibly but his coach? If you see his coach, he does not look fast and no doubt he is not. I will be faster than his coach. I’m very confident. His coach does not look after his physical health but there’s less than that. Let’s say you’re the opposite of me so you’re organized and you’re extremely focused on helping people. You may be not strong on the ideas like I am but you’re strong in everything else. If I give you feedback, I can help you see the ideas and stuff. I can help you get energized and excited about stuff that you may be don’t feel energized by. I have something to contribute to you if you’re the opposite of me and I had to learn that because I assumed that these people are great so they don’t want me around.

I’m going to leave them to it. That’s why people are in certain roles particularly running the sales team. We went through a whole bunch of different sales managers because I gave them no help. I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing here so you have it.” What I should have done is give them more support and a framework where they can succeed. It’s the thing about delegating versus abdicating. I was a committed hardcore abdicator.

I’m helping, working with people, and coaching with them. You don’t even need to give them much. You need to say, “If you need anything, I’m here. Let’s check in every week or so. Let’s talk through the challenges.” That’s often enough to help someone get stable in a role and excel rather than struggling and not being able to find their feet. Delicate rather than abdicate was another big lesson I had to learn and probably learned for five years even if it’s too late.

Talk through the current challenges, and that's often enough to help someone get stable in a role and excel. Delegate rather than abdicate. Click To Tweet

You learned it and it’s serving well now. I was talking about this, especially when you go to leading leaders. There’s this transition from learner to doer to leader to leader of leaders. When you get there, one of the risks or problems that can crop up is abdicating instead of giving ownership with accountability, supporting, and coaching that person because you’re like, “They’re so capable. I put them in the spot because they’re capable. They don’t need a bunch from me.”

Sometimes we advocate that role over the responsibility of guiding people or helping them get any better. What we need to be doing simply is looking to replace themselves and growing people to replace whatever it is that we do now along the way. Abdicating does not grow them the way that we could. I feel like you’re guiding us through this interview, Tim. It’s fantastic. Keep it up.

You don’t want me as something else. We have to go through this journey, don’t we? It’s like a rite of passage. We have to go from doer to manager to leader. In exposure to the leadership, teams are going through exactly that thing. They’ve gone from doer to manager. Now we’re noticing we need more strategic oversight on these departments. We need these managers to become leaders. Who’s better qualified to help them through that transition than the guy who spent five years too long going through that transition?

We found another thing that I can be useful for so you only have to be one step ahead to be of value. It’s interesting to watch other people go through this. We have to say, “You have to set time aside to be strategic. We’re going to put rules or guidelines in place to stop you from doing client work because I can see you getting dragged back in. I know exactly what that’s like but you can’t do it.” “I got this. It’s the capacity we need.” “You can’t because that’s a false economy to go back.” It’s interesting to observe and help other people go through this. I’m looking forward to what’s next. I don’t know what it’s going to be. If it’s going to be painful, that’s going to take me too long to learn unless it’s what I do know.

Let me give a little bit of encouragement by pulling in a good friend of mine and somebody who you’re familiar with. His name is Clate Mask. For our audience, I refer to him periodically because he’s so influential in my own life and my work experience. He would always talk about his journey as the leader of Infusionsoft now Keap as that company was growing so fast.

He would say to our onboarding class of new hires, “I’m not the CEO now that our business needs me to be twelve months from now but by the time we get there, you can count on the fact that I will be.” Acknowledging and recognizing that he had to keep pushing himself so hard and fast to get to where he was going to be ready for where we were going.

We were growing that fast and he knew if had to keep pushing himself or else he would become the very real constraint to our growth. I love that you pointed out, “What’s the next thing? I have to keep moving.” It’s not only you, is it, Tim? It’s your leadership team or people on the whole who have to keep leveling up to enable the next leg of the growth or else, you guys are done. You’re maxed out in what you can do.

It’s a constant move forward in your leadership. Since you’ve recognized that intuitively or you’ve been experiencing that, what are some things that you do to keep yourself moving forward or what have you found helpful over the last few years to keep pushing yourself and your growth so that you can invite others to come along with you?

I’ve tried a few things. One of the things I tried was I felt like I didn’t have a clear role model for what I needed to be. I started looking at other CEOs that were famous. For a lot of people my age, Steve Jobs equals CEO. I want a role model I can bounce ideas and situations off to see how they’d respond. The more I looked at Steve Jobs, a lot of people didn’t enjoy working with him and that’s clearly not my style. I’m much more collaborative and there’s a very big difference. I looked at the success of Tim Cook. He has a much gentler and more collaborative energy. What I started realizing is that whoever we try to model through YouTube videos and watching interviews, we’re watching a very carefully crafted persona.

EEP 80 | Effective CEO

Effective CEO: Whoever we try and model through YouTube videos and watching interviews. We’re just watching a very carefully crafted persona.


We don’t know what they’re like under pressure situations. I had to throw that out. The next thing I did was almost a company values thing. For my values, what do I think good looks like and what are the behaviors or leadership characteristics I want to aspire to? I wrote these out and I set definitions for each of them and then I ran a quarterly survey with our leadership team and said, “How am I doing?” I asked them to give me a numerical score because people personally need scores. Also, what can I do to improve? That allowed me to see these scores ticking up each quarter and I feel like I’m making progress because there’s a number that’s increasing it. If I put them on a graph, then it looks like that.

I realize they still didn’t give me the perspective that I needed. I made a video about this. For my birthday this 2021, my wife and our general manager conspired against me. They plotted something which was amazing. My wife and our general manager have very similar organizational super skills, which I don’t have. What they did was they got everyone in the company to write down what they admired about me as a leader and they put them in this jar. I read through these on my birthday and cried my eyes out. The thing that they all say is the same thing over and over again, which is caring, supportive, encouraging, and optimistic.

I realized that I need to be the leader that they think I am if that makes sense. It’s the same as being the person your dog thinks you are. I need to be the CEO, not the Head Ninja that they think I am and then I’ll do it right. That gave me a clear identity. I’m like, “I’ve got my four things. It’s caring, supportive, enthusiastic, and encouraging.” Those are my things. Now I can fully be confident that that’s okay because they’re not talking about me but obviously, they are. That was quite a pivotal thing. For the first time, I felt like I had a clear target identity as a CEO.

Let me put a little shape to it. Our audience knows we have a community of entrepreneurs and a seven-figure range. It’s our Elite Momentum Community. We encourage them to consider a leadership model. As you described, we have our values in the company and some people call them core values. We know our way of being. We’ve codified it, we hired to it, we lead to it, and we fire to it when we need to. Those are the values and everybody in the company should live these values, especially the leaders. The leaders are the model of these values. They teach and live them.

Anyway, on top of the value for leaders, there’s a different standard and it’s our leadership model or our brand of leadership around here. What does good leadership look like at Exposure Ninja? We rattled it off. It’s care, enthusiasm, and I forgot the other one but you know what that is. You’ve spent some time thinking about it because you’re trying to develop your own leadership that way. I’m guessing, and if this not happening yet, you will get there where you’re developing future leaders that way.

Everybody lives the values, then we have a standard for leaders, which is what leadership looks like at Exposure Ninja. What a wonderful gift from your wife and general manager. I would be bawling my eyes out as well. What else? We have a few more minutes here, Tim. Is there are any other lessons that you would extract and say, “As we were passing into that seven-figure territory, I wish I’d learned this lesson sooner about how to grow this thing more effectively or more smoothly than I did it on my own?”

We have a lot of people for our revenue. We’ve built quite a mature structure and we’ve been consciously doing this for a few years because we’ve got big ambitions and we’d rather build the destruction that’s very scalable. One of the downsides of that is a lot of people to share information around. This whole thing is almost about internal marketing. How do we get ideas into people’s heads given that I might not talk to everyone in the company? There are people in the company I’ve maybe had one text conversation with ever and it’s not practical for me to spend time every day talking to everyone. How do we get these ideas across? I guess one of the things I wish I’d learned was to pay more attention to that thing.

It’s all too easy. When you spend your time thinking about stuff like, “I know where we’re going. I know what we’re doing, therefore, job done.” It’s like getting that same direction levels of, “We’re going over there now? Okay.” “I may have mentioned it once or twice in passing to your manager, therefore, everyone should know.” It sounds ridiculous but it can be tempting to think that one message that you post on Slack or one video that you share means that everybody knows the entire contents of that message and all of the context in detail. They’re now aligned like all the cats are facing in this direction because you shined a light over on that wall three months ago.

Obviously, that’s not the case. It was Jeff Mask, Clate’s brother who said, “By the time you’re getting bored of presenting the message, the time is starting to seep into their consciousness.” This isn’t an insult to them. They’re getting a lot of messages from all sorts of places on a daily basis. It’s being more relentless about sharing and making sure everyone is aligned before we go.

EEP 80 | Effective CEO

Effective CEO: Be more relentless about sharing and making sure everyone is alive.


Having a toddler has helped me to learn this. People are like, “People are all basically toddlers. Toddler is an extreme version of a person without the filter.” Seeing how consistent you have to be and how firm and direct you have to be to get a toddler aligned is pretty representative of what you have to do with a company. There are a lot of traits that are shared between the two and that’s been a big thing that I wish I’d learned.

What a great thing to end on. Your insights into this journey have been exquisitely represented. Thank you for that. You’re the perfect person to share that message because you’re a drummer. That beat of the drum has to be playing. Setting the vision is like drumming. The other analogy I use is a heartbeat. When you get it right, this is the life-giving blood of the company. You call it internal marketing or setting the vision but it’s the drumbeat or the heartbeat.

It’s the thing that everybody knows. Here’s how we’re keeping cadence to this thing and how we get the information. It’s constant. As soon as that drum beat stops, then they are on the drum beat for a long time. Eventually, they’re going to get off the beat and you got to go back to beating that drum again at the right time.

That’s a great metaphor. That is perfect. When you’re playing in the loud club and everyone is drunk, you lose all of the frivolity. You slam that bass drum and that drum as hard as you can. It’s like, “Come with me. Do this.” It’s a bit like that, isn’t it? You go to read the room. You’ve got to work out how direct you have to be and then continually relentless and you never stop. I love that metaphor.

It’s yours now. You’re the drummer, not me. Tim, this has been a fantastic interview. Thank you for sharing your very insightful and practical experience. All of this audience is going through something similar or will soon. It’s extremely valuable. How do people learn more about Exposure Ninja if they want to learn about your company? How do they connect with you via social? What is the best way to connect with you and learn more?

You can follow Exposure Ninja. We’re Exposure Ninja on any platform. I have a blog where I share day-to-day stuff. You can find me, Tim Cameron-Kitchen, on YouTube. Post on LinkedIn and Instagram as well. It’s Tim Cameron-Kitchen. Google me and reach out. If you have any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you. This has been an incredible interview. For those of you tuning in, make sure that you do the review. Like and share this. There are a lot of people who need to know what Tim has shared. I hope that you’ll go back and review this episode. Take notes and apply some of the things that Tim has been sharing with you. Thanks again for being with us, Tim. It was fantastic.



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