Controlled Chaos of the Startup CEO Mindset

For about 20 years of my career I have been blessed with the ability to work for myself.  In all this I was able to make my own destiny.  That all stopped when I got separated from my first wife.  I thought maybe it was time to take the easy path, get a steady pay check and have some stability.  I was willing to give up the idea of unlimited pay, making all the decision, and working my own schedule.  Well for a while it was sheer bliss.  I found a great opportunity and for 5 years I helped build this company from around $36 million to over 125 million or so.  I was able to work with much autonomy with great pay, great benefits and oh yeah I had all the resources (deep pockets) I needed to build the business.  I was brought in to turn around locations of fledgling franchises.  The success was immediate and I was labeled a “Golden Boy “setting records and levels of accomplishment many today still are unbeatable.  I thought I had found my home.  This could not be any better.  I was living a literal fairy tale.  It always starts out wonderful with all the characters happy and content and then the evil dark cloud of despair arrives and destroys all happiness as we know it but wait the hero enters and saves the day.

Controlled Chaos

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Well for everything I did and all the sacrifice’s I made which I can tell you were well over and above what 99% of the people I know would make I was back to square one.  I had literally the best of both worlds for a while at least.  What I found was at some point people get in your way as their vision and yours does not meet. That is when I realized that I am an adrenalin junky and needed the ever-changing landscape of what I call “Controlled Chaos”.  Without it I get bored and have no means of remaining focused.

What was interesting is that my wife has asked me countless times over the last 3 years why I don’t start another company.  She felt that with my knowledge and drive I was wasting my talents.  Well the problem was I swore to myself I would never go down that road again.  Not because I didn’t succeed as I was very successful.  It had to do with stability and the hard work and countless hours and responsibilities building something from nothing entailed.  Working with a great company having the level of autonomy as one could ask for as well as resources.  I become your typical corporate executive not having to fend for myself and to put it quite simply “lazy”.

The Controlled Chaos became a dull drip of excitement from time to time.  It became waking up every day and simply going through the motions because there was no means of innovation anymore.  Well I knew this had to end and had no issues letting go a hefty pay check to find my dream as I was rotting from the inside out.  This was not necessarily the companies fault as they were doing what they believed was in the best interest of their organization and themselves.  This was about my abilities being wasted away in a mindless system that did not allow me to continue creating and operating at a high level.


After speaking to nearly 50 CEO’s of startups and beginning to see what I wanted I knew there was nothing except CEO in my future.  I had to have the ability to working the Controlled Chaos I so craved for and be able to create and make this mistakes that are bound to be made.  What I have found is you have two kinds of people.  Leaders and followers.  There is nothing more and nothing less. There are few leaders and many followers and nothing wrong with either as a leader does not necessarily become more successful they just take a different path.  Leading is what I crave and being able to own the good, bad and ugly is what I live for each and every day.  Having this chaos back in my day-to-day life has brought me back to where I was and were I will always need to be.  Don’t ever mistake Chaos for unorganized or broken or anything else some operator wants to deem it as.  Controlled Chaos is how we leaders make the world spin round and without it all the people who want stability will never have it.  Embrace your leader’s quirks and chaotic behavior as they will hopefully lead you to the Promised Land.


By Donovan Lazar Founder and CEO of TrueFinancial Technologies, Inc.

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