30 Rules I’ve Applied to Life as a CEO Before Turning 30


By: Tom Ottaiano, CEO, Today’s Business

1. There is no handbook.

There is no tell-all book that is going to give you all the answers when it comes to starting and running a business. Real experience is the most valuable education.

2. Consistency is key.

Without consistency you will see no real results in what you are trying to achieve. Stay committed and focused on what matters to you, and great things will happen.

3. Success starts with a goal.

If you’re not setting specific goals for yourself, then how can you measure your success? Goal setting is one of the most important practices that you can do for yourself, both in professional and personal life.

4. Being a team means setting collective goals.

A company can’t operate effectively if everyone isn’t on the same page. Setting goals for departments, as well as company goals as a whole, that fit cohesively together will put you on the road towards growth and success.

5. “Your network is your net worth.”

You can’t put a price on networking. It’s that valuable. Creating access points to leverage valuable connections is what makes a business thrive.

6. Reframe how you see fear and pressure.

Nothing worth pursuing comes without putting it all on the table. No matter how intimidating that may be, do not let fear stop you from just going for it.

7. Alone time is critical.

You can’t keep a clear head if you never take time for yourself to regroup. Every morning I wake up at 4:30am, I go to the gym and I get to the office before anyone else on the team. That window of time before the day starts is my own personal time to prepare for the day and sort out my priorities. In order to see the clear picture, you need to have that time alone to think about what’s important.

8. Know your strengths.

Knowing your skill set and being aware of what you bring to the table is key. You’re not going to get anywhere in the business world if you don’t know how to leverage your strengths and seek help to fill the gaps your weaknesses create.

9. Eliminate negativity.

You can’t expect to have a good day if the first thought that pops into your head is a negative one. Get rid of the thoughts that aren’t doing you any good and put your focus on the positive ones.

10. Stop thinking, start doing.

If you’re passionate about something and you can make money doing it, do it. What’s stopping you, but fear? Refer back to #6.

11. Process is just as important as the outcome.

If you’re not prepared to be a part of the process and grind to get to where you want to be, then don’t sit around expecting the outcome to be phenomenal. Results require sweat and hard work. It’s never going to be a walk in the park.

12. The best client relationships are the ones that are mutually beneficial.

Forming a symbiotic relationship with a client is so important because you can both help each other out in so many ways. Spend money with the people who make you money.

13. If you can’t deal with the lows, you won’t reach the highs.

You must accept from the start that not everything you do is going to work out the way you hope it will. Success comes with the highs and the lows and if you can’t rebound from the lows, you will not rise to top.

14. Selling and persistence go hand in hand.

When it comes to selling, you need to be persistent. Follow up. Make yourself available. Persistence is the key to getting where you want to be in the business world.

15. Take care of your body.

As a former professional football player, I often compare being a CEO to being an athlete. You can’t produce and perform at your best if you don’t take care of yourself.

16. Live in the present.

Plan for the future and learn from the past, but live in the moment. You can’t expect success if you’re not living in the present and using every moment you have towards achieving the life you want down the road.

17. Practice positive visualization.

Visualize your goals and how they’ll be accomplished. Surrounding yourself with positive people and making a point to practice positive visualization is one of the key factors to being an entrepreneur. If you visualize your upcoming win, you’re not gonna lose.

18. Managing people requires an open mind.

Managing employees is definitely the hardest thing that you will ever do when you start a business. There are so many different personalities and types of people who are all cut from a different cloth, working towards a collective goal in their own individual way. Being open minded is one of the best ways to navigate that challenge and harness the potential of each and every employee.

19. Don’t get complacent.

I am never satisfied. I will always want to accomplish more than I did the day before. Never stop making moves and working towards achieving your goals. And once you’ve accomplished them, it’s time to make new ones.

20. Motivation can’t be taught. It’s something you have to ignite within yourself.

There is no person, quote or goal that’s going to motivate you if you can’t find that core drive within yourself. Motivation is not a learned behavior, it’s ingrained.

21. Chase your passion.

I love what I do and it’s all because I chased what I was passionate about. Your passion in life is not going to chase you. You have to make the decision to go after it.

22. Put your phone down for a little bit.

In order to stay healthy and refreshed in your professional life, you need to take some time to step away from work. Make sure that you’ve allocated some time each day to give yourself space. This can be extremely hard as an entrepreneur, but it’s absolutely necessary to not be locked into your email every second of every day.

23. A business is not a carry-the-team sport.

We have always compared the teamwork dynamic of what we do here at Today’s Business to football. Everything is interconnected and everyone relies on each other. You’re not going to complete a pass if you don’t have someone making their blocks and someone else running correct routes. Same thing goes for what we do here at TB. All parts of our operation are dependent on each other and we see the best results when all the interconnected parts are cooperating seamlessly.

24. Organization is the key to being consistent.

You can’t have consistency without being organized. As a CEO, my Executive Assistant is integral to the operation here at TB as an extension of what I do. As a leader you need to be able to recognize when you need that help because one person cannot do it all, and that’s okay.

25. Your happiness is important.

It all comes down to happiness. If you’re not happy with what you do, then what are you doing? It’s important to step back and be grateful for what you have. Make your happiness a priority.

26. When you build from the ground up, you need a plan.

I’ve always stood by the 3 P’s – People, Process and Profits. These concepts have been the cornerstone of growth that has taken us from three guys working in our parents’ basement to where we are today.

27. Work ethic is everything.

If you don’t want to work for positive results, then don’t expect them to happen for you. It all comes down to the work you put in every single day.

28. Get rich quick is not a true business solution.

If you want to build your brand, it’s not going to happen immediately. Shortcuts are only going to get you so far. I’ve always been in this for the long haul and accepted that great success takes time and sustained effort.

29. Every role matters.

Every position is essential to the successful operation of a company. No role is too small and each individual plays a vital part in the success of the company. We work collectively as a team and recognize that everyone is a valuable piece in the puzzle of our success.

30. Never give up.

Don’t stop pushing and never let failure prevent you from moving forward. If someone tells you something is impossible, let that be the fuel that fires your future success. You determine your own destiny.