How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

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radnor
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How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by radnor » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:23 am

Next week, I (along with a couple of other employees) are scheduled for an informal lunch with the president/CEO of our company. This is part of a program for upper management to meet with employees, and we were randomly chosen. Any tips on good questions to ask or things to say?

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Mr.BB » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:36 am

That is a wonderful program. I've worked with clients who owned companies and I always told them to spend time talking with their employees. The more layers of managers they have the odds are better that great ideas that are thought of the lower levels never reach the people who could make changes because a middle manager who doesn't have foresight or the companies best interest in mind doesn't pass on the information or ideas.

When dealing with the boss, always remember he/she is the boss. Don't go in with an attitude that they don't care or are indifferent about other people ideas and this program is just lip service. If you have some ideas about the business for them or changes you would like to see, tell them what you think and if they want more details after that point, give them a plan of action for how to implement the idea; bosses love when someone gives a solution to a problem, not just complaining about an issue.

Don't forget to drop them a thank you note for the opportunity to talk to them a few days later.
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by livesoft » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:00 am

Why not treat them like a normal person / employee? You can ask them what their 3 biggest worries are, why they like their job, what they hate about their job, what keeps them from sleeping at night, where they will be in 3 years, what drives them, why are they still working, etc.

What questions would you want to be asked?
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by midareff » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:05 am

livesoft wrote:Why not treat them like a normal person / employee? You can ask them what their 3 biggest worries are, why they like their job, what they hate about their job, what keeps them from sleeping at night, where they will be in 3 years, what drives them, why are they still working, etc.

What questions would you want to be asked?
Agreed.. I always liked asking what they felt their biggest challenge(s) was/were moving forward.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by BHUser27 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:13 am

I have found it is best to be honest, brief and direct when answering the CEO's questions.
I have also found our CEO responds best to 'big picture' type questions about company strategy, market conditions, company future, etc.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Mr.BB » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:27 am

midareff wrote:
livesoft wrote:Why not treat them like a normal person / employee? You can ask them what their 3 biggest worries are, why they like their job, what they hate about their job, what keeps them from sleeping at night, where they will be in 3 years, what drives them, why are they still working, etc.

What questions would you want to be asked?
Agreed.. I always liked asking what they felt their biggest challenge(s) was/were moving forward.

They are not a "normal" person or employee, they are the boss. They are not doing this for you to learn more about them, they are doing this to help them learn more about their company and their employees. Depending on how your conversation goes and if there is enough time, then ask them about their job and the related questions.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Barefoot » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:53 am

I went to one of those once. The big boss made a big deal about it being "not for attribution", meaning that anything said would be held in confidence.

I wasn't even back to my desk before the big boss was calling someone in for a talk. Someone that I had commented on during the lunch.

Turned out to not to be a problem for me, but I learned the lesson that "not for attribution" was to be taken with several grains of salt.
Last edited by Barefoot on Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by retiredjg » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:59 am

I'm not sure it is wise to try to "make the best use" of time with the boss. Be pleasant. Listen rather than talk. Answer any questions honestly without trying to figure out what the boss wants or expects to hear. Be diplomatic. See what you can learn.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by tetractys » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:14 am

I've been to a few of these and have never been fully happy with my own handling of them. I was always caught a little off guard I think. One time the president complimented me directly and asked my personal plans for the future. This just took me aback and I blurted out something about not being able to ever perform as expertly as some of my mentors--which was true at the time of course; but didn't answer the question.

So my advice would be to first, enjoy the company; second, really listen to what's going on; and most important, give a thoughtful, direct answer when or if your asked something. -- Tet

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by dm200 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:38 am

If you can do so, try to speak with others who have gone through the experience - get some feedback.

Remember, no matter what he/she says, nothing is "off the record".

The higher up in dealing with management, the simpler you need to keep things and discussions.

Try to find and discuss things that will "catch" with him or her (in a positive way) so that he/she will remember you in the future.

If you have a choice about what you order/eat - pick things that are least likely to make a mess. :)

I would also be conscious of how to dress. I am not expert at that, so others might have an idea.

If you know the others, perhaps make sure you know who they are before the lunch.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by PowDay » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:45 am

Great advice on the CEO aspect, I would encourage you to see if you can figure out what peers will be in the room as well. How you are perceived by that audience when interacting with them in front of the CEO, will be much more important. Those "peers" could be your next manager If half the room is from, department X, see if you can get a baseline understanding of what they are doing so you can participate in the conversation.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by zuma » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:53 am

What kind of company is it? What is the culture like? Is it a growing startup or a big corporation? Have you talked to the CEO before? What is your role? Will your boss be there? Etc etc. Hard to make suggestions without knowing more.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:54 am

Keep in mind anything you say or ask could be shared with HR or your manager (if nothing else to try to address a problem the CEO might perceive based upon something you ask). It goes without saying to be professional and not say/ask anything that you wouldn't want your manager or HR to hear.
It really depends upon your industry, size-of-your-company, etc. what types of things might be relevant but I'd go for relatively big-items.
Where does he see the company heading in the next 5 years?
Any plans to expand beyond current product/service/etc (insert right word for industry) scope?
Any reason why there aren't index funds (if not) in the company 401K plan? : :happy
Its also okay to get personal - I like livesofts advice - he is a regular person after-all.
What do you do in your spare time? Do you have kids? .. the usual personal stuff.
(CEO at a company I used to work for was rebuilding cars - someone once bonded with him personally over this and then seemed to have an "in" with him :)).

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:56 am

How big is the company? At my megacorp the CEO is essentially a politician/salesman/lobbyist so anything he says related to work will be like canned town hall meeting answer. Talking to anyone greater than 3 levels above me is pretty much these same result and won't result in anything. Personally I'd try to talk about non work related stuff.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by twins2012 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:05 am

Why can't you talk to him like a normal person? This is why I need to get out of the workforce asap. I can't stand kiss azz coworkers.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by prudent » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:20 am

I'm in the "it depends" camp - the type of CEO and his/her personality will probably determine a course of action. I would only come prepared with what I would answer if directly asked things like "where could we do better", or "what's the biggest impediment in your daily activities". I have seen what the over-thinkers do - they come prepared to make a point about something, and they are determined to do it even if it derails the conversation. Agree that "big picture" topics are best if asking a question - outlook on new projects, things like that.

I was invited to one of these intimate lunches when we got a new CEO from another country. There were 10 long-time employees, the new CEO, and the new Operations VP who also was just transferred to our unit from another country. He started off by saying how pleased he was to have this opportunity to get to know some of the long-time employees. Then between him and the Op VP, they didn't stop talking for 45 minutes. The room could hardly contain both their egos. The best part was when the OP VP related how happy he was to find a home on a golf course in Suburb X (the priciest in the county) when he moved here. Not a single employee in the room could dream of a home like that. Don't know why he felt we should share his happiness on that front. Hopefully yours will be more productive.

For sure, nothing that is said will be confidential.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Bacchus01 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:21 am

Being the Pres/CEO who does these every two weeks:
- be genuine and honest
- ask questions
- don't ask petty questions like "why do the stalls in the bathroom have poor locks on them" there is a time and place for that question, and this isn't it
- give feedback on what you like and don't like
- as others said, focus on big picture stuff
- this is not a bitch session, but don't be afraid to bring up big issues like "I'm unclear where the company is headed in the face of alternative competition, can you elaborate on that?"
- don't leave the room without asking a good question. It IS the chance to be heard and seen.

Despite what others have said, I do these for several reasons. One, I want people through the organization to hear the message clearly from me. The strategy and key tactics need to be well understood and I expect questions around those topics. It also gives me a chance to meet with people I just wouldn't otherwise see on a day to day basis. With 2500 employees working on my team, it's just not possible to see them all otherwise. I also want to create ambassadors from these meetings. Take back the message to your department and share it! Lastly, I do genuinely want to hear about issues or concerns. But make them big and make them impactful. Yes, I can get a door fixed or change the temperature in the building or change the date of the company picnic, but is that really what you want your top leadership team focused on? Is it really what you want to have resolved by the CEO.

Good luck and take advantage of it.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by PVW » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:34 am

The CEO's goal is probably to get in touch with average employees and to find out how they feel about working at your company. Give him what he wants. Prepare yourself (mentally or with notes) to discuss your role at the company and what you like and dislike about your work process. If you have any ideas for improvement, organize those thoughts so you can be succinct and effectively communicate. Stand behind your statements - don't try to talk about how your coworkers feel or use gossip to back up your statements.

This is not your time to shine or try to impress the boss.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Capsu78 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:59 am

My favorite "breakfast with the CEO" memory was when the CEO was discussing growth opportunities (in our stagnant, declining, buggy whip industry). He offered up some wisdom " If we could find a way to sell every person in China just one fork, we would wildly exceed all the shareholders expectations!"
As me and another snarky coworker checked to make sure neither of us were smirking, we thought "...Except we don't make forks...and we don't have a salesforce in China a...and last time I picked up the National Geographic, everybody in China seems to prefer chop sticks...!" At least the breakfast spread was good :-)

On a serious note, I would have one or 2 "big softball sized" comments in the can that talked about an actual customer experience...definitely if I were in sales/ marketing. It is an even bigger opportunity if you are not directly customer facing, but have the awareness that customer acquisition and retainment has decent mindshare in most CEO's.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:03 pm

If wine is offered at lunch - pass! Seriously, pass on it.
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by eldinerocheapo » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:39 pm

Having been in the corporate world for many decades, and rubbed elbows with the brass, my take is as follows.........

Do not offer disingenuous praise or compliments. You will be labeled a bootlicker, a suck up, and a glad hander by all present. Most of the clowns
that I've seen pull this stunt, are shown the door before the next evaluation period.

Give honest, thoughtful answers to problems and offer realistic solutions.

Do not even mention your supervisor or offer your impressions of him or her. This is a landmine that will blow up in your face.

When asked to "think outside the box" don't sit there with a blank stare. Prepare for the meeting and write some ideas down that you can fall back on, as this is exactly the type of productivity the big boys like to see.

Listen more than you talk, and keep your comments brief, focused and specific.

If criticism is in some way leveled at you or your department, try and get to root of it to determine the proper course of corrective action. Whatever you do, don't overreact as this might be a test to determine how you react in stressful situations.

I've seen the corporate culture grind up and spit out some very good people, as well as the chumps who deserved it. Follow the advice you see here, play it cool, and you should be fine.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by KlangFool » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:47 pm

radnor wrote:Next week, I (along with a couple of other employees) are scheduled for an informal lunch with the president/CEO of our company. This is part of a program for upper management to meet with employees, and we were randomly chosen. Any tips on good questions to ask or things to say?
radnor,

1) Be careful about what you say about your own direct manager. It will always comes back to haunt you.

2) Don't expect anything good to come out from this. Just enjoy a free lunch.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by KlangFool » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:52 pm

Capsu78 wrote:My favorite "breakfast with the CEO" memory was when the CEO was discussing growth opportunities (in our stagnant, declining, buggy whip industry). He offered up some wisdom " If we could find a way to sell every person in China just one fork, we would wildly exceed all the shareholders expectations!"
As me and another snarky coworker checked to make sure neither of us were smirking, we thought "...Except we don't make forks...and we don't have a salesforce in China a...and last time I picked up the National Geographic, everybody in China seems to prefer chop sticks...!" At least the breakfast spread was good :-)

On a serious note, I would have one or 2 "big softball sized" comments in the can that talked about an actual customer experience...definitely if I were in sales/ marketing. It is an even bigger opportunity if you are not directly customer facing, but have the awareness that customer acquisition and retainment has decent mindshare in most CEO's.
Capsu78,

The CEO showed up in the cafeteria and claimed that our location/division had a bright future. Then, 2 years later, she shut us down and outsourced to India even though we doubled and tripled our revenue and profit.

We knew that she is full of "Fill in the blank". Some of the employees showed up and worn sunglasses in the first row to avoid getting glares from our bright future.

KlangFool

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by RoadHouseFan » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:59 pm

Find out what sports teams, hobbies etc. they like and use that as a conversation starter.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by rob » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:04 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:Despite what others have said, I do these for several reasons. One, I want people through the organization to hear the message clearly from me. The strategy and key tactics need to be well understood and I expect questions around those topics. It also gives me a chance to meet with people I just wouldn't otherwise see on a day to day basis.
If that's what you really want then I suggest you stop doing these dog & pony shows. As an aside; Do you notice that your 3 things are about you and your message... Wouldn't those be different if you wanted to listen to people inside your organization? I've been to too many of those and it's easier and more productive to just send me the powerpoint slides or a link to the latest video, so I can file it :-) The politics from the middle management is terrible for these type of things and your just not getting honest responses.

If you really want to understand what's happening... Sit in some conference calls on critical projects incognito (no need to understand the topic... listen to the types of interactions) or grab some carefully selected people on a 1:1 basis AFTER you have shown that there is no political blow back from comments they might make. Make sure your not the one talking the whole time and don't use words that are found in "vision" and "mission" statements :D
| Rob | Its a dangerous business going out your front door. - J.R.R.Tolkien

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by rebellovw » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:08 pm

Try not to fart and you should be fine. Or fart - it could work both ways.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by CABob » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:52 pm

I would guess that the boss has a number of these throughout the year and quite likely has something in mind to initiate the conversation. Let him do it and take your cue from it to frame your questions. Of course, it you have a burning issue you want to discuss, go for it, you may not often have the opportunity.
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by celia » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:01 pm

dm200 wrote:If you have a choice about what you order/eat - pick things that are least likely to make a mess. :)
I know someone who works for a tech company (one of those that offers free ready-to-eat meals during the day) who was invited to the boss' house (with other employees) for dinner. When they got there, there was a grill and food already to cook. They joked that now they had to cook their own food!

They couldn't say what was discussed but it appeared the boss was checking out what background and ability to tackle new tasks each person had.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Dutch » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:11 pm

Order the most expensive dish on the menu.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by TIAX » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:26 pm

This would make a great opportunity to lobby for a better 401(k). On a serious note, consider what you can say to help your career, not improve some process.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by F150HD » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:23 pm

radnor wrote:Next week, I (along with a couple of other employees) are scheduled for an informal lunch with the president/CEO of our company. This is part of a program for upper management to meet with employees, and we were randomly chosen. Any tips on good questions to ask or things to say?
Well, post a follow up so we can hear how it went.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Rick Rock » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:38 pm

Be professionally candid.

For the last 10 years I've worked directly for leaders who have had anywhere from 300 to 30,000 people reporting to them. To an individual, they all highly value candid insights on what's really happening with coworkers and clients.

I'd also add that "sacred cows" are not off limits. Every large organization has its issues. If you can raise a topic and offer a perspective on how to consider a solution, do so.

Bottom line -- so many people are scared of CEOs and their equivalents. Don't be intimidated, bring your ideas and build the relationship.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Longdog » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:16 am

Think about if there is anything about the company you would like to see improved. Think about a constructive suggestion to achieve that goal, and politely offer it up to the CEO at lunch. Temper your expectations, though.
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Mr.BB » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:01 am

KlangFool wrote:
radnor wrote:Next week, I (along with a couple of other employees) are scheduled for an informal lunch with the president/CEO of our company. This is part of a program for upper management to meet with employees, and we were randomly chosen. Any tips on good questions to ask or things to say?
radnor,

1) Be careful about what you say about your own direct manager. It will always comes back to haunt you.

2) Don't expect anything good to come out from this. Just enjoy a free lunch.

KlangFool
Klang is said it perfectly.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by bligh » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:02 am

Dutch wrote:Order the most expensive dish on the menu.
Lol! I was thinking the exact same thing.

That's what we did with our CEO. All four of us ordered the most expensive thing on the menu (King Crab Legs) we all (including the CEO) thought it was funny as hell. The crab legs were good too. :sharebeer

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Loik098 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:29 am

Take a sick day, and avoid all of the 425 pitfalls, 213 faux pas, and 97 opportunities to be screwed listed here so far.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by dbr » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:56 am

On the few occasions I have had to speak in person with people at the top executive level I would say I learned that I have no idea how those people think and what they think about. I know on one occasion I and some other people were helpful giving an Exec VP some details he needed to know to proceed with something. On another occasion what I thought was a good answer to a question was met with the comment "That isn't an answer." It turns out what would have been an answer would have been a statement of a date when whatever the general problem I was working on would no longer be a problem. I made the mistake of talking about what the solution was. On another occasion that same executive was really happy with me because my lab was neat, clean, and seemed organized to deal with what we were supposed to be working on. Typically I suspect neat, clean labs are probably under-productive. And this guy had actually come up through R&D.

Otherwise I would say meetings with executives are opportunities to listen and be very, very careful what you say, nothing being the best option. Criticizing anyone or anything would be a big mistake. Conveying a general image of optimism and enthusiasm is a good idea.

At Megacorp the general understanding is that the people working on projects are supposed to be the unabashed champions of those projects and the job of executives is to challenge those projects. To come across as anything except an absolute champion of what you are doing would be very negative.

I don't see anything wrong with asking questions about vision for the company as long as it doesn't imply any negative attitudes.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:10 am

Do you have access to the CEO's quarterly statements or if he presents to employees, a copy of that video? My company CEO does this in worldwide quarterly video that we get to see. From these, I'd focus on something talked about and ask for update, progress, further info about. For example (and this might be general for megacorps), we have international sales and like lots of megacorps, leave Billions overseas while borrowing money in the US for acquisitions and operations. In our last quarterly update, the CEO talked about the potential to bring that money into the US if tax treatment is changed. If I were to sit down with the CEO, I'd ask how the outlook is now for bringing money here or if buying a foreign company might be a way to use that offshore money.

I sure won't bring up how much our medical insurance sucks worse than any company I've worked for over the last 40 years. I do say that to my boss but I don't think I'd have anything good come from it with a CEO.....although I am chock full of specific examples.
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by inbox788 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:22 am

TIAX wrote:This would make a great opportunity to lobby for a better 401(k). On a serious note, consider what you can say to help your career, not improve some process.
This!

And improving the 401k isn't a bad idea either, seriously.
CABob wrote:I would guess that the boss has a number of these throughout the year and quite likely has something in mind to initiate the conversation. Let him do it and take your cue from it to frame your questions. Of course, it you have a burning issue you want to discuss, go for it, you may not often have the opportunity.
Yes, listen to what the CEO is trying to achieve with the meet. Don't bring up your burning issue in this forum, unless the CEO brings it up first. You have been harassing your boss about that burning issue, right? Now if the CEO does bring it up, it's 50/50 whether it's good or not.
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:If wine is offered at lunch - pass! Seriously, pass on it.
That all depends on what wine is served and the company culture. I wouldn't pass on a fine glass of wine. :beer Don't you want to be drinking buddies with the CEO? :sharebeer
Capsu78 wrote:My favorite "breakfast with the CEO" memory was when the CEO was discussing growth opportunities (in our stagnant, declining, buggy whip industry). He offered up some wisdom " If we could find a way to sell every person in China just one fork, we would wildly exceed all the shareholders expectations!"
As me and another snarky coworker checked to make sure neither of us were smirking, we thought "...Except we don't make forks...and we don't have a salesforce in China a...and last time I picked up the National Geographic, everybody in China seems to prefer chop sticks...!" At least the breakfast spread was good :-)

On a serious note, I would have one or 2 "big softball sized" comments in the can that talked about an actual customer experience...definitely if I were in sales/ marketing. It is an even bigger opportunity if you are not directly customer facing, but have the awareness that customer acquisition and retainment has decent mindshare in most CEO's.
KFC, PG, SBUX, GM and others have all been somewhat successful at selling that fork.

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dm200
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by dm200 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:27 am

Especially at lunch, I would pass on anything alcoholic (for multiple reasons). Some companies (I used to work for one) have policies (sometimes interpreted differently by different departments) against alcohol at any kind of business meal.

I see no risk on passing.

advice789
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by advice789 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:17 am

Great opportunity and frankly, wish I had thought of using this forum to seek advice for similar situations. Thanks for the idea

Regarding your inquiry, two thoughts. First, after the lunch, what is the One Adjective you want the CEO to describe you? Your questions , behaviors and comments will either reinforce, or distract you being remembered . Second, the CEO has a lot of experiences. Perhaps ask the executive to share an experience and his / her lessons of success. Experience is a great way to learn and grow

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Nearly A Moose » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:07 pm

I'd strongly urge you to heed Bacchus's advise and to very careful with some of the cynical answers you're hearing in this thread. Yes, it is entirely possible the CEO is sitting on some bombshell news that will affect your division or the company more broadly. Guess what, a lunch with 10 employees isn't the place to share this type of information (in fact, if you're publicly traded, there might be internal controls in place for key information), and nothing you say in this meeting will change that type of decision. So put that kind of stuff out of your mind for now.

CEOs are extremely busy, and their time very valuable. The good ones know this and don't do anything without a clear sense for how it will benefit the company. Remember, your CEO likely eats, sleeps, and breaths your company, and he wouldn't be doing this if he thought it was a waste of his time. So I'd urge you to get on board with the idea that the point of this meeting is to help the company. And even if you don't agree that the discussion will be useful, pretend it will - there's really no downside.

As for preparation (yes, preparation - you need to spend time on this outside of work, just like you would if you were tapped to present to the CEO, because that's what you're doing), consider the following:
*have your elevator pitch down pat. You'll presumably need to introduce yourselves. Don't be the guy who says, "I'm Bob from Accounting." Be the guy who says "I'm Bob, I'm part of the finance and accounting team working on the China integration. Right now, I'm working on making sure our income reporting system can handle both the US and Chinese methods, which will let us report more quickly and streamline audit compliance." (This is 100% made up and likely isn't even a real thing...) basically, be ready to succinctly explain how you fit into his company and how what you're doing drives the overall corporate mission.
*have ready two or three specific suggestions for how your job function can further drive the business objective, but be aware of any political land mines in this area (e.g. Don't go over your boss's head on something he has already shot down)
* have a couple questions ready, and make sure they're insightful. For example, what would CEO most like to see different in 5 years within the company; what business risks or opportunities does he see with the new administration (but don't talk politics)
* if you raise issues, make sure they're appropriate for the CEO level, and try to have a solution to offer, even if it's not the final one
* understand your CEO's view of the corporate culture, and be prepared to discuss what you're seeing and ways to improve it
*dont be afraid to stand out from your fellow employees, but do be sensitive no to appear as though you're showing them up (both are important promotion qualities)
*[edited to add:] and it's great to try to find a way to connect personally (and a good CEO will want this anyway, as it reinforces culture), but I'd suggest that identifying your mutual love of fly fishing is a secondary objective for a meeting like this.
Last edited by Nearly A Moose on Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Bacchus01 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:24 pm

rob wrote:
Bacchus01 wrote:Despite what others have said, I do these for several reasons. One, I want people through the organization to hear the message clearly from me. The strategy and key tactics need to be well understood and I expect questions around those topics. It also gives me a chance to meet with people I just wouldn't otherwise see on a day to day basis.
If that's what you really want then I suggest you stop doing these dog & pony shows. As an aside; Do you notice that your 3 things are about you and your message... Wouldn't those be different if you wanted to listen to people inside your organization? I've been to too many of those and it's easier and more productive to just send me the powerpoint slides or a link to the latest video, so I can file it :-) The politics from the middle management is terrible for these type of things and your just not getting honest responses.

If you really want to understand what's happening... Sit in some conference calls on critical projects incognito (no need to understand the topic... listen to the types of interactions) or grab some carefully selected people on a 1:1 basis AFTER you have shown that there is no political blow back from comments they might make. Make sure your not the one talking the whole time and don't use words that are found in "vision" and "mission" statements :D
You number of assumptions you make in two paragraphs is pretty amazing.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Cruise » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:28 pm

Some thoughts on meeting the Big Boss:

This is your opportunity to have an impression formed. Positive impressions are likely to be formed if you:

1. Dress neatly and within the normative range for the organization.
2. Make sure you are well-groomed.
3. Display critical thinking skills (not criticism skills).
4. Focus on the Big Picture.
5. Appear pleasant, sincere, and self-confident (not obnoxious).
6. Appear composed vs. anxious.
7. Have verbal fluency.

Positive impressions flow from being perceived as "likable." Ask yourself whether that is how people perceive you. If you don't have it, you may not want to say much at all.

Good luck.

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8foot7
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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by 8foot7 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:37 pm

Everyone here is very cynical. Just don't be a [jerk - moderator prudent] , dress neatly, don't make a mess, and leave a positive impression.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Boglegrappler » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:09 pm

Act as though your number 1,2, and 3 priorities are finding ways to help the company raise sales ,profitability, and enhance its competitive position. Don't ask questions about how the company can make your job/life more comfortable. Think of things the company could do differently to make you more productive.

Good luck.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by cantos » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:17 pm

retiredjg wrote:I'm not sure it is wise to try to "make the best use" of time with the boss. Be pleasant. Listen rather than talk. Answer any questions honestly without trying to figure out what the boss wants or expects to hear. Be diplomatic. See what you can learn.
This is spot on. There is no one-size-fits-all here. Take heed of your boss' personality and fit your questions and answers to that personality. A boss that wants "yes-men" will want lots of affirmation. Others will genuinely want input. But don't confuse the two.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by dm200 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:34 pm

You never know what does and does not help or hurt your career.

Sometimes it helps to discuss some of your outside activities, such as running marathons or medical assistance trips to remote third world poverty stricken areas.

I will never forget my first job after college for a major corportion. My grades were not very good and one of the managers I interviewed with mentioned that he had an ownership interest in a standardbred (trotting) racehorse. I had an uncle that ws in several aspects of that business as well and much of the time was discussing race horses. I got the job and he was my first boss.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by Mike Scott » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:40 pm

I have recently been a participant in several "listening" sessions in which the "leader" talked nonstop for an hour about themselves. Other times, there have been real chances to give input that was seriously considered. I would prepare as if it were the equivalent of a job interview but then wait and see what happens. It may be low key and chat about baseball or whatever. There may be more pointed purposes than baseball. Be polite and professional and enjoy lunch.

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Re: How to make best use of lunch with the company president/CEO?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:47 pm

dm200 wrote:Especially at lunch, I would pass on anything alcoholic (for multiple reasons). Some companies (I used to work for one) have policies (sometimes interpreted differently by different departments) against alcohol at any kind of business meal.

I see no risk on passing.
The only risk is if someone at the table is defensive or in denial about drinking. Those people want company. A CEO probably is more on top of things than that, but in a pinch (e.g., "go ahead, we're all working on the same team"), I'll claim being on medication as an excuse for not imbibing.

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