Market Overview

Inside the CEO Mind: Norwest's New CEO Journey Study Uncovers Trends in Work/Life Balance, Personal Development, Hiring and Fundraising


Venture Partners
, a multi-stage investment firm, released the
results of its 2018 CEO Journey study today. Offering a glimpse into the
psyche of private company CEOs and founders based in the United States,
the study uncovers several major themes.

  • More CEOs and founders are prioritizing health and personal
    development to find work/life balance.
  • Fear of failure, feeling unqualified, and hiring the right employees
    are top concerns for CEOs/founders.
  • Most CEOs/founders seek funding in the first year of starting business
    and rank individual investor expertise as the most important factor
    when selecting an investment firm.

For a more detailed look at these findings and other highlights, please
visit the 2018 CEO Journey Study website.

Connecting the Dots From Data to Insights: What We Should Know About
CEOs Today

Norwest initiated this study to take a deeper look at the CEO/founder
personality, exploring both how these executives and their leadership
teams operate and function, how they approach hiring and the culture of
their organizations, and how their leadership styles reflect their own

"CEOs are the driving force behind a company 一 from defining the vision
to developing the culture 一 they are the single biggest factor impacting
the success of a business," said Jeff Crowe, Managing Partner at
Norwest. "For this study, we wanted to tap into the mindset of CEOs and
more deeply understand their challenges both at work and outside of
work, so that as board members we can be more effective in bringing
resources and programs to help them."

The survey results are intended to inform investors with insights
regarding how to best support CEOs/founders.

"This data reinforces the areas that Norwest currently places an
emphasis on, such as executive coaching, community building, peer
mentoring, hiring and culture," said Katie Belding, Partner of Marketing
and Portfolio Services at Norwest. "We've also uncovered new CEO pain
points such as conflict resolution and public speaking, and we continue
to develop new programs and build communities to address these needs and
help our executives achieve their professional and personal goals."

Prioritizing Health and Personal Development Helps Leaders Find

When thinking about the role of a CEO/founder, people typically think of
these roles as involving all work and no play. However, the study
results show that while today's business leaders are just as dedicated
to their work as they've always been, they're actually prioritizing
their mental and physical health regardless of how much work is on their
plates. While on average, CEOs/founders admit they haven't had a
complete work-free weekend in six weeks, the study found that most (71%)
get six hours of sleep or more per night, exercise multiple times per
week (60%) and find time to read frequently for pleasure (48%).

Additionally, about half of these leaders meet with a personal trainer
regularly, consult with an executive coach (32%), work with a wellness
coach (32%) and see a therapist (22%). Aside from health, wellness and
business coaches, respondents also spend time learning from their peers.
The vast majority (93%) socialize with other CEOs/founders a few times a
month or more, and 27% do so multiple times a week.

Fear of Failure is Top Concern for CEOs

When businesses live and die by their ability to secure funding,
maintain growth and hire the right people, CEOs/founders are under
constant pressure to succeed. Ninety percent of CEOs/founders admit the
fear of failure keeps them up at night more than any other concern.

Other challenges CEOs/founders face include revenue growth (49%),
raising capital (49%), and maintaining work-life balance (46%).

Starting a company is a huge undertaking and few CEOs will feel 100%
equipped to handle everything that being an entrepreneur entails.
CEOs/founders most wish they had more expertise in the hard skills of
operations (53%), finance (51%), and sales (37%), prior to starting
their business.

Expertise in hard skills is not the only important factor when starting
a company. Looking back, CEOs/founders realize they could have used some
greater expertise in certain soft skills as well—primarily in public
speaking (37%), planning and organizing (37%), and conflict resolution

Considering many CEOs/founders recognize a shortfall in their own skill
sets, it comes as no surprise that they find it tough to hire staff for
executive-level positions requiring those same skills. CEOs/founders
find it most difficult to fill positions for sales/customer success
leaders (38%), technology/engineering leaders (37%) and operations
leaders (25%). The importance of these hires helps explain why more than
half (53%) of CEOs/founders will invest their time to conduct three or
more in-person interviews before offering employment.

CEOs/Founders Rank Individual Investor Expertise as Most Important

The search for allies to succeed in business doesn't stop at the
workforce. CEOs/founders eventually find they need to attract outside
capital. Fortunately, most CEOs/founders recognize fairly quickly that
they will require expertise and resources beyond just family and
employees. The study found that within a year of starting their company,
79% sought outside investment.

The study also analyzed what CEOs/founders are looking for in an
investor. A major disconnect with an outside investor could mean the
difference between a company's success or failure. Individual partner
expertise (47%) was cited as the most important factor when seeking a
lead investor, followed by alignment with their company's vision (44%),
and the ability to fund their company over the long run (42%). Once the
decision has been made, a premium is placed on bringing business
development skills to the table (33%) as the most important help their
investor could offer.


The NVP CEO Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (
among 200 CEOs/founders of privately held, venture- and growth
equity-backed companies.

About Norwest Venture Partners

Norwest is a multi-stage investment firm managing more than $7.5 billion
in capital. Since our inception, we have invested in more than 600
companies and partner with over 140 active companies across our venture
and growth equity portfolio. The firm invests in early to late stage
companies across a wide range of sectors with a focus on consumer,
enterprise, and healthcare. We offer a deep network of connections,
operating experience, and a wide range of impactful services to help
CEOs and founders scale their businesses. Norwest has offices in Palo
Alto and San Francisco, with subsidiaries in India and Israel. For more
information, please visit
Follow Norwest on Twitter @NorwestVP.

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property of their respective owners.

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