I’ve coached 500+ CEOs, here are the 6 traits that the top 1% share

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1. Speed of execution 

Average: Long time between idea and action, analysis paralysis, overthinking, delaying action, over-engineer plan & try to anticipate every detail.

Top 1%: Bias toward action. Don’t wait for the perfect plan, the perfect team, or the perfect timing. Act fast, learn quickly, and adjust as they go.

2. Unwavering focus 

Average: Spread thin, distracted by shiny objects, “everything is a priority,” context switching all day, chasing dopamine from starting new things, seldom finishing

Top 1%: Have developed the ability to focus on what matters most, while cutting out the noise, without getting side tracked by “great opportunities,” stay committed, stay on track, and stay the course.

3. Tight feedback loops 

Average: Out of touch with data & feedback, navigating by emotions, flying blind & often blindsided, need to be right vs looking to be wrong, stuck putting out fires, resist change and don’t have a relentless focus on learning + adapting

Top 1%: Build -> Test -> Learn -> Repeat. Data driven, using hypothesis and experiments to validate approach, reviewing market feedback and key metrics every week/month/quarter to course correct, seek feedback early and often, make small tweaks, and iterate quickly.

4. Consistency 

Average: Start strong, but lose motivation, passion & focus over time, highly reliant on “feeling like doing it” to actually do it, outcome oriented, lack the discipline and ability to manage themselves over the long term

Top 1%: Process oriented, understand that success is not a one-time event, but the result of consistent action compounding over time, consistent action = consistent results, stay connected to their WHY and draw daily energy from it vs relying on motivation

5. Long term time horizon 

Average: Think in days or weeks, operating in survival and time scarcity, prioritize short-term gains and neglect the bigger picture, stuck working on urgent stuff and in the weeds, doing things for an ROI in days or weeks.

Top 1%: Think in years/decades, state = abundance, vote for their future selves by making choices that align with long-term vision, prioritize progress over short-term wins, factor the long term impact of every decision, work today on stuff that will deliver ROI in 12-24 months

6. Ability to pick the right talent 

Average: prioritize qualifications + experience over character + values OR vice versa, hire people they need to babysit/micromanage VS top caliber peeps, poor judge of people,  complain that team doesn’t deliver but don’t do anything about it

Top 1%: hire for alignment with values & long-term vision who are ALSO preloaded with the skills + competence, high EQ & ability to spot red flags, use SMEs to screen for areas where they lack domain expertise, hire people SIGNIFICANTLY better than them at the function

Bonus: High standards

The top 1% CEOs have WAY higher standards than anyone who works with or for them. They force others to raise their game or self-select out. They don’t lower their standards to please others – often triggering for some.

Which one do you currently embody well and which one do you want to develop?

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