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Successful CEOs don't delegate business intelligence, learning, and listening - they do it themselves.
If you want to shorten your shelf life as a CEO, it’s easy to do – be uninformed and disengaged. There’s a big world out there, and CEOs need to get out of their bubble and go see it for themselves. Too many chief executives live in an isolated world of constant travel, public policy and capital markets road shows, board and executive meetings, and management briefings – everything is filtered, packaged and fed to them. THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM.
While many CEOs suffer from email, iPad and Smartphone addiction, the time spent on these devices is largely related to email, scheduling and logistics. The big miss here is far too little time is spent using the web as a digital learning medium. Successful CEOs don’t delegate business intelligence, learning, and listening – they do it themselves.
Let me be clear; isolation is not synonymous with highest and best use – it’s career suicide. Delegation should not be confused with abdication, and span of control should never be confused with span of influence or awareness. I’m not suggesting chief executives engage in hours of mindless web-surfing activity, but I am suggesting they use the Internet for personal/professional development, research and business intelligence like the rest of the world does. CEOs must wake-up to the fact the Internet just isn’t a tool for their staff.
Following are my top picks for the Top 25 Websites for CEOs (in no particular order of preference):
The Obvious But Overlooked
1. Your Company Website: You’d be surprised how many chief executives have no idea what’s published on their own website – big mistake. I was recently retained by a Fortune 100 company to work with their new incoming CEO, and when I enquired as to why he wasn’t listed on the company website, he sheepishly stated he’d been on board 6 months and hadn’t even checked the website. This is one of those “the buck stops here” things – if you’re the CEO, you better understand the entirety of your company’s digital footprint (public sites, sites behind the firewall, social media accounts, partner sites, etc.).
2. Your Competitor’s Websites: There are few competitive intelligence tools as effective as the online profiles of your competitors. There’s always a great temptation to delegate this activity to staff, but at a minimum, make sure you are briefed on a regular basis. However the better method is to own at least some of the homework yourself – you’ll find the knowledge acquired invaluable.
3. Your Customer’s Websites: It’s difficult to relate to your customers if you don’t know and understand them. A little time spent understanding the digital footprint of a client can lead to great conversations and big business. When customers find out you’ve invested time in getting to know their company, culture, challenges and opportunities, you’ll have escalated your relationship to a more fruitful level.
4. Foreign Affairs: There are very few businesses of any scale who can’t afford to think globally, and there’s no better publication to inform you on international news and information than Foreign Affairs.
5. Psychology Today: One of the most thought provoking and informative magazines dealing with the human psyche. CEOs are first and foremost in the people business, and few publications will offer insights into the human condition like this one.
6. Mashable: This is where the cool kids hang out for news and information. With 20 million unique visitors and 6 million social media followers, Mashable has become one of the most engaged online news communities. It has both aggregated and original content, and multiple topical channels.
7. The Build Network: This is one of my favorite new publications/websites. With a truly unique format, the information here is short, crisp, relevant, and actionable. Well worth a visit for every CEO.
8. Twitter: This social networking site offers one of the best listening posts on the Internet. Virtually every major brand is represented on Twitter, as well as numerous thought leaders, and CEOs like Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Marissa Mayer, Thomas Geisel, Rupert Murdoch, and many more. If you think you’re too busy, or too important to be on Twitter, think again.
9. TED: Want to know what’s coming next? Visit the TED website and view videos from the world’s hottest innovators and thought leaders.
10. LinkedIn: Perhaps the world’s greatest talent engine, LinkedIn gives you virtually unfettered access to passive talent if you’re willing to pony-up for a modest subscription fee. Well worth the price.
News and Commentary
11. Forbes: You’re reading this now, so you must agree. Forbes has some of the best contributors and columnists in the business, while the site does offer hard news, the editorial content is definitely it’s strength – it’s rich and there’s a lot of it.
12. CEO.com: The site offers aggregated and original content specifically designed for CEOs. Who’s hot or not, in or out, and tips and advice for the chief executive. A great one stop shop for C-level items of interest.
13. Chief Executive Magazine: Every industry has a leading trade rag, and this is it for CEOs. The site contains news, editorial and research specifically catering to the chief executive.
14. Wall Street Journal: Still the gold standard for financial news and insightful commentary. Plenty of hard news and some insightful commentary to boot.
15. The Economist: Consistently sound thinking with a global focus can be found on the Economist. Everything here is fair game; politics, religion, business, education, innovation, and of course, the economy.
Research and Intelligence
16. Corporate Executive Board: There aren’t too many global brands who aren’t members, so what’s your excuse? I’ve never met a chief executive who couldn’t benefit from being better informed.
17. Forrester: Probably the world’s best know business research firm. Forrester covers all major segments with top-notch analysts.
18. EDGAR: The SEC database on securities filings and forms. If you want the latest info on public companies, this the place to find what you’re looking for (10k, 10Q, etc,).
19. YouTube: The world’s second largest search engine (a subsidiary of the largest) is a great resource when you need topical video content at your fingertips. It was recently reported users watch 4 Billion hours of YouTube videos a month.
Leadership & Strategy
20. Strategy & Business: Published by Booz & Co., you’ll find timely information on all things strategy, and a bit of topical content on leadership as well. The site is particularly good for what I call catorials (editorialized case studies).
21. HBR: I have a love hate relationship with HBR. Some of the authors offer pure brilliance as their contribution, but you’ll have to filter through some mundane B-school nonsense to find it. Nonetheless, when it’s good, it’s really good.
22. The Conference Board Review: Their tagline, ideas and opinions for the world’s business leaders, says it all. Snappy content on a variety of global business issues important to leaders.
23. Hack Management 2.0: Better known as the Management Innovation eXchange, this site encourages fresh debate on topics related to leadership and management. The site also sponsors numerous competitions for innovative submissions on the hot business topics of the day. You’ll find many thought provoking subjects worth the time to peruse.
24. Real Leaders: The official website of YPO/WPO. This site contains leadership editorial, CEO profiles, and topical case studies designed for CEOs by CEOs.
25: The N2growth Blog: My personal favorite:) If you like what you’ve read from me on Forbes, CEO.com, Success, Entrepreneur, The Washington Times, etc., you might also enjoy my company’s leadership blog (authored by yours truly). Consistently ranked among the top leadership blogs, I write specifically for CEOs. As a bonus, a few other blogs from leaders I enjoy are: Richard Branson’s Blog, Mark Cuban’s Blog, and Tom Peter’s Blog.
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