The CEO Ride | Blog
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02 Jan It’s the New Year. Do you know where your life is going?

This is the time of year when stock is taken and resolutions are made. We’re closing one chapter and opening a fresh one with nothing written between the borders yet. We fool ourselves into believing that all things are possible, so we set marvelous goals – promising that we’ll lose the weight, accomplish everything and achieve that longed-for excellence.

All wonderful, all made with the best of intentions—and all bullshit.  You know it, and I know it.

To see the wannabes of this world, go no farther than your local gym this time of year to see those resolutions in full display, huffing, puffing and totally committed to getting into fighting shape. Until they aren’t.

Instead of setting lofty goals, how about doing yourself a favor and grabbing a good old-fashioned dose of reality? How about asking yourself the tough questions about last year and honestly answering them?

  • What was your biggest screw up last year? You know, the one that cost you the most money or killed your momentum.
  • What was your biggest miss of last year? You know, the one that had you gotten it right, everything would be rosy right now and you wouldn’t be sitting here wondering what the hell happened.
  • Who do you need to jettison from your life this year? You know, the individual(s) that divert your focus and/or drag you down. The one(s) whose understanding and approval you desperately want but never receive.
  • What bad habits do you need to stop this year? You know, the ones that again divert your focus, waste your time and get you nowhere.
  • What are you willing to give up in order to gain something new? We’re finite beings with finite capabilities, meaning in order to take on one new thing, we need to remove one.

We’re entrepreneurs, dammit. We live in a reality most cannot comprehend, lifting weights most will not even attempt. We make shit happen day in and day out—the only question is what and how much.

So, the only way to successfully accomplish all those things is to face the reality of our own shortcomings, accept them, deal with them and then move on. To understand not what we want to be but what really can be.

To have the balls to look ourselves in the mirror and really see…then, and only then, can we go out and kick some ass in 2019. 

As always  These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to add to it, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.

Dwain – CEO Rider 

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25 May Why business transitions go wrong

In business, transitions are like getting ready to climb a rock wall. You’re either going to take one wrong step and fall like a stone, or you’re going to reach the peak. There is no in-between.

And transitioning to the next leader makes the stakes even higher, locking the company into a three-to-five-year window from which it will move to the next level.

Depending on how high up on the org chart the transition is, choosing the wrong person causes damage that will then take even longer to turn around—yes, I said “turn around” because by the time this poor decision is corrected, you’re usually circling the bowl.

A mistake at the top, for instance, will cause the company to lose a decade of growth. I’ll say it again…a DECADE!

So how do seemingly smart individuals make such boneheaded mistakes? What is it they do or do not do to blow such an important phase of a successful company? Here are a few I’ve seen over the years:

  • Overlooked inside talent – Too often leadership or the Board of Directors want “new blood.” But what is the message to those within the organization who have paid their dues over the years to move up? (Let the exodus of talent begin.) Besides, it takes a long time to forge internal relationships, and unless there’s a major shift in the industry or the company is in trouble already, staying the course is often best. Which leads to the next bullet:
  • Forgot that culture rules – Great companies have cultures so thick you can almost cut them with a knife. You either fit or you don’t, and strong cultures have a way of expunging those who are either in the wrong spot or don’t belong. And trust me, those who stay will expunge all who don’t fit no matter the level.
  • Rushed into it – This isn’t flipping a switch. Great transitions take three to five years before becoming official. Leading a company is about nuance, and that comes from knowledge and understanding gained over years of exposure to people and situations. That takes both time and mentoring, and who better to mentor than the person whose chair they’re taking one day?
  • Went for the splash effect – This isn’t a PR play (unless the company is already in freefall). This is about how the company runs long after the adulation associated with PR wears off. Great transitions should be boring.
  • Stayed with it too long – Your gut tells you it was a mistake long before you make the needed change. Remember, those team members who have stayed through this debacle knew it was a mistake long ago too and are now just waiting on you to do the right thing—so do it. Hey, a cardinal sin in business is not trying stuff…another is sticking with that poor decision too long.


Stay in business long enough, and we all transition at some point. Let’s make sure to get it right the first time.

Dwain – CEO Rider 

As always  These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to add to it, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.





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19 Apr The art of the decision: Why you need to teach the next level to make the call

de•ci•sion – noun: decision; plural noun: decisions
“A conclusion or resolution reached after consideration”

When transitioning entrepreneurial companies and their Senior Management Team (SMT) to the next level of performance, the biggest stumbling block is making decisions. More often than not, ultimate decisions up to that point have been made by you, the entrepreneur, partly because you’re used to making them. But in reality, the reason that’s the case is because of the management team’s inability and unwillingness to make those decisions.

It’s either because they’re not used to having the last word on the matter or because they fear being wrong—or both. In any case, their inaction is a direct result of the boss having always walked in and made a decision for them, time after time…year after year. And in the early stages of building your business, that probably worked well for you. Now, however, you find it nearly impossible to begin stepping away and transitioning more routine day-to-day control over to the SMT because of their paralysis.

What comes naturally to you and me as entrepreneurs is foreign to the next level for a couple reasons. First, if they wanted to assume the risk associated with making those decisions, they’d be running their own company and not working for you. Second, it’s way more comfortable having someone else make the decision and assume the responsibility when things don’t quite work out. Sounds crazy sad, I know, but it’s the truth.

So it’s our job to help them re-define and therefore see the act of decision making not as a science, where the answers are always black and white, but more as an art. As the modern definition above states, a decision is drawing a conclusion or resolution based on current facts and information. In other words, it’s simply another step in the process of business. Not the 11th Commandment.

So in order to help the SMT understand the art over science concept, I suggest you employ the maxim “It was a good idea at the time”—meaning that all decisions are made with the information at hand, and once made, new information begins coming in either confirming or discounting the decision.

Teach your team that no conclusion or resolution is 100 percent wrong, just off base 10 to 20 percent— and they now need to figure out what isn’t working and make another decision. At first they may see it as exhausting, but hey, that’s real life, and unless this concept is embraced by your SMT, you will forever be tethered to your company.

As always – These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to mix in a few more metaphors, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.

Dwain – CEO Rider


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19 Mar As first quarter flies by, do you have focus, or are you floundering?

Wow, that was fast! I don’t know about you, but it seems like we just changed the calendar—and now it’s almost April. In the blink of an eye, we’ll be staring at the mid-point of the year.

So, how are you doing so far? Are you hitting your goals, or are you finding it slow going? If the latter, why, and what changes are you making in your strategy or tactics?

It’s almost counter intuitive in this economy for there to be struggles, but it’s more common than you think. And in case after case, it comes down to one essential element of success – focus.

Think about it, when times were tough, whether when we were just starting out or due to a difficult economy, our options were limited. The lack of resources, staffing or experience caused us to maintain a narrow focus just to survive. But now, opportunity abounds, and much like the proverbial cat in a room filled with rocking chairs, we don’t know which way to turn.

To paraphrase Michael Dell, “The key to success isn’t the recognition of opportunity; instead it’s recognizing those opportunities we elect NOT to chase.”

Therefore, in order to dig yourself out of this rapidly growing hole, stop and determine if you’re paying enough attention to your core. Ponder the following questions and see if you relate:

• Does this new opportunity enhance my core business or divert resources from it?
• Am I sacrificing key personal and/or corporate goals to chase this new opportunity?
• Is this new opportunity my next stage in evolution or is it something that sounds cool to do?
• Why am I chasing it – am I bored or is it simply FOMO (fear of missing out)?
• Does my team agree with the new direction or do they think I’m crazy?
• Is my organization unduly stressed out?
• Are there new “turf battles” that didn’t exist before?
• Am I spending substantial, quality time with my core clients?

There are many more questions I could throw out there, but you get the point. If you don’t keep your eye on the ball someone else will, and by then it’s usually too late to recover.

So get back to basics because your time is NOW!

As always – These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to mix in a few more metaphors, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.

Dwain – CEO Rider

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13 Feb 5 ways to prep for the bad times in business while enjoying the good

This year is starting out like gangbusters, and it’s easy to smile as we enjoy the incredible tailwind created by this economy. However, as every experienced entrepreneur knows, business runs in cycles, and it’s not if we’ll see tough times again but when. So, at the risk of being overly pessimistic, how do we enjoy the good times while also staying prepared for the bad?

Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Protect your goals – Have you crushed your original goals? Has your timeline of events shortened? Remember why you’re doing what it is that you do and where satisfaction and happiness lie. Set new goals if you must, just recognize when the original finish line’s been crossed.
  2. Never lose sight of the fundamentals – When the pace of business increases, so does your tendency to take short cuts—just don’t let them become habit. It’s important that you maintain your process because the success you’re enjoying today is the result of tactics you employed months ago.
  3. Dance with the one who brung ya – Loyalty is earned over time, so don’t forget about your long-term relationships while wooing the new. There’s always someone out there waiting to make them their newest client.
  4. Know thyself – Just because your growth is leading you into new areas of business doesn’t mean you’re good at it. Shiny objects and distractions abound, so understand when you’re outside of your core competencies and re-focus. A very wise and successful entrepreneur once said “The key to success isn’t recognizing opportunity; instead it’s recognizing those opportunities you elect NOT to chase.”
  5. Remember, you’re not that good – It’s OK to pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but don’t drink the Kool-Aid. We all have flaws, and just like jagged rocks that lie below the water’s surface, they can sink you when the tide drops.

So ride this wave and enjoy every minute of it! Just know that at some point we all have to bail.

As always  These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to add to it, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.

Dwain – CEO Rider 

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28 Dec The #1 goal you should have for your business in 2018

Every entrepreneur I know has the usual goals set for 2018 with targets for revenue, profit, and new product lines/markets all spelled out in detail. But there’s one very important goal that often goes overlooked – amassing and retaining winning talent.

Over the past two plus decades, my work has afforded me the opportunity to work with scores of companies, and one trait all of the great ones share is an uncanny ability to attract and retain top level talent. It’s in their DNA—and they aren’t just attracting any talent, but winners who both fit into and eventually alter their culture in order to sustain that next level of high performance.

I could sit here and list the “5 Ways Winning Companies Amass Talent” but that would be grandstanding B.S., as all good companies understand how to recruit. The real winners set themselves apart in their mission and with an almost maniacal drive to be the best (not necessarily the biggest) in order to dominate/change their respective markets.

Remember, the talent you need doesn’t just want to be on a winning team, they also want to have an impact. So plan big, get focused and be known as a company that will let them.

As always  These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to add to it, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.

Dwain – CEO Rider

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03 Nov Dwain DeVille and The CEO Ride featured on Lafayette’s KADN

Dwain DeVille, the CEO of The CEO Ride, made an appearance on KADN News15 Today while on his ride through New Orleans and Cajun Country. The CEOs started their ride in New Orleans on Halloween, then made their way through the heart of Cajun Country to Lafayette. The bikers ended their trip by returning back to New Orleans for a fun night on Bourbon Street with great food, fellowship, jazz music and great stories.

In Dwain’s interview on KADN, he talks about why he started The CEO Ride, how it has grown, and what it stands for.

See the full clip here.

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12 Oct Ya Gotta Protect The Brand!

At best I guess you’d call me a casual fan of the NFL, as the sport lost my avid interest decades ago after moving to Florida. The reason is that football season coincides with riding season, and I prefer spending my Sundays on two wheels rather than the couch, so I’ve drifted.

For disclaimer purposes, this blog isn’t about whether or not players kneeling or sitting during the national anthem is just. That’s another argument for a different blogger. Instead, this blog is about my fascination, from a branding perspective, at how one of the biggest brands in America — the NFL — is totally bungling it.

We often hear that the locker room is a microcosm of society, so if that’s true, the players on a percentage basis mirror the feelings of America in general. In other words, if a large percentage of your players and a large percentage of your market do not agree, why in the name of brand management do you get involved and take a knee on such a divisive issue?

Why piss off a major portion of your customer base giving them reason to turn away, to take that Sunday ride, maybe never to return? The answer lies in an age-old axiom that “nothing fails like success” or to put it another way — hubris. The NFL’s overhyped opinion of itself has apparently outstripped its true value to society and is now feeling the pain of that all-too-common self-inflicted wound.

Where I come from, you learn to never discuss religion or politics, especially if you’re looking to sell something, much less if you want to be invited back to the party. Or as one eloquent pastor wrote recently, “How long would you continue to walk into your favorite department store or turn on your favorite sitcom if you first had to listen to one of my sermons?”

The NFL’s marketing department must be cringing knowing that with all of the other issues facing the brand, i.e. head trauma, misogynistic behavior and spouse abuse, job one is to sell entertainment, not politics. The NFL’s CEO, Roger Goodell, always talks about protecting the shield (brand) — but now, in the eyes of a great many, it’s tarnished. And as of this writing, he’s desperately scrambling to put that genie back in the bottle.

Indeed, this great country of ours allows for freedom of speech, but in business, we must also factor in the economic concept of opportunity cost and that we’re here to serve everyone. So before getting involved in something you feel strongly about, ask yourself if your opinion is worth alienating a significant segment of your market, i.e. cash.

If it is, then by all means go for it, because taking a stand for what you believe is what this country is founded on. If not, look for another way. In either case, consider the consequences, because it’s going to affect either your business or your conscience. And by the looks of recent reactions, we know which is more important to those owners.

I’m not sure how the NFL’s situation will turn out, but what I do know is that on any given Sunday, the sun will be shining and I’ll probably see a few more bikers on the road.

As always – These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to add to it, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.

Dwain – CEO Rider

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01 Aug A new way to look at peer-to-peer groups

The most recent CEO Ride through the Black Hills and around Sturgis and Deadwood, South Dakota, was our best to date. During our business sessions, one of the riders continually referred to industry disruptors and compelled us to look at our respective businesses in that light. Everyone, from those in investing to global security to IT to construction to retail had them – including me.

You see, The CEO Ride is based on the decades-old peer group model that in the beginning was itself a disruptor. As knowledge between business leaders began to be shared in meaningful ways, they achieved a competitive advantage that resulted in their respective businesses flourishing.

Now, however, it’s time for a change in the old school, large group, one-meeting-per-month model. That’s because in this fast-paced era of business, it takes too long to become a cohesive team and groups often only deal with issues of the moment.

When founding The CEO Ride five years ago, I designed it to be a small, intimate gathering of entrepreneurs who engage in a week-long process where we share information and knowledge while creating one-of-a-kind experiences that (in their words) take them out of their heads and bond them for life.

In other words, we don’t show up in a meeting room at 9 a.m., drop our bombs and then return to our normal daily chaos. Instead, we meet in the room at 9 a.m., drop our bombs, and then as a group, ride through the countryside letting our heads run free, coming up with one new idea after another and always building on our daily conversations.

And we do this for four consecutive days.

During that time, this group of very different, high performance leaders come together to form a solid team in a fraction of the time. Like the experience of riding, it’s hard to truly describe the depth of connection achieved, but I’ll try using our most recent ride as an example.

Day 1 began as a typical peer group meeting where everyone got to know one another and where the conversations were mostly business, focusing on just facts and lightly sprinkled with a bit of personal info. Then we added a 150-mile ride, and the shared experience quickly broke through the surface and created our own inside stories and jokes.

This was followed by dinner, where the conversations, be it business or personal, went even deeper—and where, as one multiple-time CEO Rider put it, “We’ll become your friends if you let us.” We multiplied this over the course of days discussing in-depth each other’s fears, attitudes, issues and desires in a continuous loop of sharing and most importantly – caring.

At week’s end we truly KNEW each other and had forged bonds of support that will continue to grow over time and have us all looking forward to the next ride.

Now I know this blog comes off as a shill for The CEO Ride, but there was really no other way to get my point across. Other entrepreneurs may not share our passion for the open road, and but they share a passion for something.

The saying “It’s lonely at the top” is not a cliché … it’s a fact. So whether it’s a passion for hiking, rock climbing, sailing, fishing or whatever activity takes you out of your head, find others who share it and come together to simply be who you are—because that, my friend, is when the magic happens.

As always  These are my thoughts, I could be wrong. So, if you disagree or simply want to add to it, please do so. I look forward to the conversation.

Dwain – CEO Rider 

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