Impossible goals – Gymbaree’s CEO Matt McCauley

At Liz Wismean’s Multipliers Summit in San Francisco, we finished the day with a trip to the office of kids’ retailer Gymbaree.

We had the privilege to meet  their CEO Matt McCauley who at 33 became the youngest CEO in the company’s history and is one of the 10 Most Powerful CEOs Under 40.

Matt McCauley

Matt McCauley at Gymbaree

We spent 45 minutes with Matt as he recounted inspiring stories of setting impossible goals.  Matt famously doubled his company’s share price in his first 12 months as CEO, despite everyone saying it was not possible.  This story is a feature story in Liz Wiseman’s book Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter.

Matt McCauley’s business tips

“You live and die by if you don’t have the right team behind the product.”
“You can’t set goals for other people. They must make their own!”
“You’ve got to have believers. No-one in charge can have all the answers, but the believers give you ideas!”
“Success is defined by progress”

Accountability is only 3 things

1. Set a Goal
2. Measure it
3. Report it

The three things they tell VPs at Gybabree

1. The competition is outside these walls.
2. Your performance counts, of course.
3. Being nice, more gets accomplished.

You’ll only get fired if you’re a jerk, play politics or are not nice!

Some more quotes from Matt McCauley

“Focus on what you want, you’ll get it.”
“Don’t focus on risks, it consumes too much energy. It’s best to focus on the positive.”

The best process looks like this, Idea –> Explore the idea –> Risk evaluation (it’s important not to kill the idea because you focus on risks too soon).

“Disagree with me all day long, just disagree with me to my face.”

Matt’s school teacher taught him, “Lead in a way that is good for everyone, not just you”

Training more Matt McCauleys

1. Create the environment
2. Coach them (never threaten them)
3. Remember people work for people

It was a real thrill to hear Matt share these experiences with us. Many thanks to Liz Wiseman for organising this!

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