WTF Startup Chief of Staff

Lately, more and more I see the title Chief of Staff (CoS) related to startups. Holy crap… WTF is a startup Chief of Staff? President’s of the United States have a Chief of Staff, Generals of the Army have a Chief of Staff. Leaders of large, unwieldy bureaucracies have a Chief of Staff. Startups need a CoS as much as fake federalis need no stinkin badges.

Maybe I don’t know what a chief of staff is. Maybe all the businesses, I’ve been involved in failed because they didn’t have a chief of staff. Maybe the businesses that I’ve been involved in that were big wins were just flat out lucky to be winners without a chief of staff.

To find out more I went to my old Wikipedia Machine and asked them WTF is a Cheif of Staff and it replied:

“The title chief of staff (or head of staff) identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a principal staff officer (PSO), who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide-de-camp to an important individual, such as a president or a senior military officer.”

Hmmm, aide-de-camp… now that seems much more impressive and pompous than a plebian thing like some puny powerless CoS… it’s French! It’s like the difference between regular mustard and Grey Poupon. I need to get me an aide-de-camp betwixt me and my complex organization, institution, and body of persons.

Then I went to my old googaley machine typed in, “Cheif of Staff for startups” and I found a ton of bullshity articles written by CoSs from startups. This Cheif of Staff thing is definitely becoming a hot role in startups.

So I did a quick search on LinkedIn looking for Startups that are complex organizations, institutions or body of persons. A quick search came up with these companies.

  • Union – Because of course Evan Burfield needs a Cheif of Staff. That means he can go on a book tour while Union burns and then blame the CoS for the Failer.
  • Fiscal Note – 160 employees on LinkedIn and it’s either already a large unwieldy bureaucracy or CEO Tim Hwang is a Trumpian who needs a General Kelly to keep him from firing Mueller.
  • Care Journey – 28 employees on LinkedIn and the CEO and Team are all former Micro Strategies guys who watched Michael Saylor use Mark Bisnow as a go-between his intellect and humans (Someone with a super low EQ like Mike Saylor may need a CoS and Bisnow was a CoS and not a clown padding their CV).
  • Modus Create – 123 employees on LinkedIn and I can think of no good idea why Patrick Sheridan would need a Chief of Staff except to have a CoS.
  • Trustify – This asshole, Danny Boyce, and his lying thieving wife, Jen Mellon, have a chauffeur, gardener, housekeeper/babysitter on the payroll of their company (hey you moron Trustify investors, invest in me because I’d like a chauffeur too), why shouldn’t these PoS have a CoS to work at a two-employee Dumpster fire (The CoS at Trustify, if she stays at Trustify is an attorney she will surely disbared).
  • Global Good Fund – 49 employees on LinkedIn. It makes perfect sense to me that Carrie Rich needs a CoS. Anyone whose stated vision is to create a new generation of transformational change agents to achieve unprecedented levels of societal progress needs a transformational unprecedented societally progressive change agent type of CoS (Global Good isn’t quite a small start-up, they’re a startup non-profit but I like to pick on Carrie Rich‘s pomposity so I included them anyway).

I’m not going to waste my time to find all the other stupid companies that don’t need a true CoS that currently employ a CoS. My leading theory of the rise of the Startup Cheif of Staff is that it is an evolutionary path.

I’m an old fart who started his first job in 1978. At that time the bosses had secretaries. Later word processors and computers replaced typewriters automating some of the more menial tasks of a secretary. The secretary role evolved into an executive assistant. Today, these spoiled little college grads don’t want to just be executive assistants or admins so they are now calling themselves Chiefs of Staff. The evolution is complete from secretary to executive assistant now referred to as a Cheif of Staff.

Other possible reasons a supposed nimble startup, with under 200 employees needs a Cheif of Staff:

  1. It is less embarrassing to pick up the CEOs dry cleaning when you have a C-level title
  2. Status Symbol for a CEO to have a C-level answer the phone for them
  3. They are spending investor money and not their own
  4. It’s cheaper to call your admin a Cheif of Staff than to give them a raise
  5. Because no one wants to tell their parents that they paid $200,000 for college so that their child could embark on a career as a secretary
  6. Because the company already had filled the role of
    • growth hacker
    • hustler
    • ninja
    • rock star
    • God or Goddess of the people
    • Executive Sensei
    • Jedi
    • In-House Philosopher
    • Chief Happiness Officer
    • Chief Inspiration Officer
    • Cheif Everything Else Officer
  7. The CEO’s Brother/Sister-in-law needed a job
  8. To see if the board is paying attention
  9. If they need to have layoffs, the first layoff won’t hurt the company
  10. It would make Mr. Cranky lose his shit