My Proven Advice to CEOs

  1. Be prepared to invest up to $100K of your own money in the stock of the portfolio company you join to help grow. If you and the Private Equity Partner feel you are a solid fit for this C-Level hire, $50k-$60K investment might be allowed if that amount helps you out.
  2. Don’t depend on experienced investor C-Level headhunters to do the heavy lifting for you on a skin in the game opportunity. I wish there were so I could form an alliance.
  3. Skin in the game job hunting requires identifying your ultimate target: The Private Equity Group (PEG) Hiring Authority ideal mutual fit.
  4. Skin in the game job hunting traits include: being self-sufficient, making a commitment, detailed preparation, practicing your elevator pitch, solid execution and targeted networking.
  5. Before creating your resume, you should write what I call an Indiana Jones bio focusing on your accomplishments. Doing this will give you self-confidence if you haven’t job hunted for a long time. Details are in my book, Skin in the Game.
  6. There is an excess of irrelevant advice on how best to create your resume. Skin in the game C-Level job hunters (CEO/President/GM/COO/CFO/CSO) must connect each of their employer job titles to the profitability of their department, group, division, subsidiary or corporate. That’s what private equity portfolio company ownership (PEG) is all about. Look at your current resume. Does it emphasize too much of your responsibilities and soft skills? Do you appear irrelevant/detached/unfocused regarding your company’s profitability?
  7. In networking for private equity partner hiring authorities, you must hone your presentation combining a few carefully preselected “show & tell documents with a solid 5-minute elevator pitch. The latter becomes a living resume on your credentials, work experience and targeted employment objective. Your goal is to present a solid elevator pitch convincingly and effortlessly. Practice, practice and then practice again.
  8. Your main goal in a skin in the game job search is to penetrate the really hidden job market and meet with a PEG Principal or Partner or other titled Hiring Authority. Hopefully there might be a current job with that PEG that fits your background, qualifications and interest. Your meeting with this PEG might involve an imminent company acquisition. It might be a referral to another PEG that has bought and sold companies to the PEG you are meeting with.
  9. The secret to effective C-level skin in the game job interviewing is to secure a copy of the job before you meet the PEG. That will give you time to create a Self-Rating Quiz. The SRQ breaks down the key 9-12 job requirements each rated on a scale of 1 (lowest), to 10 (highest), by you. Beneath each of your rated key job requirements put Comments. There you can elaborate on why you gave yourself a high rating score. Under Comments put Related Reference List, a reference by name and title and employer, but no contact email or phone number yet. Make a copy of your completed SRQ for yourself, your interviewer, and a backup for a surprise additional PEG partner. After you are asked the obligatory “tell me about yourself, Joe”, give your elevator pitch. Then ask the interviewer if you can go over your SRQ that shows what a solid match you seem to be against the key job specs. By the end of your interview ask the partner if he would like the contact information on any of your SRQ references. I’ll bet you a lobster he will ask you to email them to his attention.
  10. Once your Skin in the Game job hunt turns up a C- Level job for which you are qualified for and t you have interest in filling, the phrase ‘due-diligence’ characterizes the PEG hiring process. Having conducted C-Suite retained searches in the Fortune 500 sector and in the M&A sector, the M&A sector job candidates are provided a lot more documented information related to their hiring. This enables better decision making about the risks, the PEG, the portfolio company confidential information memorandum (CIM). You should also request examples of projected PEG targeted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) results at the exit or liquidity event. (where the increase in equity is distributed to all stockholders).

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