Life After Business

#189: How to Hire a CEO and Replace Yourself

Today on the podcast, I have Mike Frommelt the Founder and CEO of Keystone Search. Mike has been featured in Gino Wickman’s book Rocket Fuel because of his tenure helping companies hire their top-level executives and more importantly their replacement (this could be the title of Pres ident / GM / COO / or Visionary / Integrator as EOS refers to it).

If you have thought about what it would be like to replace yourself from the day to day (i.e. your role not your ownership) and don’t know where to start, then this episode is for you.

Whether you have a $1M business or $100M business and your goal is more freedom from the day to day, or are looking for ways to decouple yourself for an exit years down the road, it’s a HUGE decision to find your successor.

If done wrong, all the anxieties about the subject and horror stories you play in your head could come true BUT if you do it right and take the time to learn what you need to do BEFORE you make any decisions then true magic can happen. Not only for your personal life BUT also for the business.

You will have a more valuable company that gives you the freedom and time to think, plan your long-term strategies while only working in the parts of the business that give you energy.

One of the MOST important things you can do to build a more valuable company AND give yourself more freedom is find someone to replace your role and transfer the tribal knowledge that you have in your head.

What you will learn:

  •  Where to start the journey when you are ready to replacement for your day to day role
  • How to determine whether you have your replacement internally or if you need to find someone from outside the company
  • How to separate your ownership role from your day to day working role
  • How to figure out how much visionary vs integrator your replacement needs to have
  • What qualities a president of a company should have
  • What the resume should look like of someone t
  • The opportunity cost of replacing your role
  • How to pay a president and different compensation structures you should think about
  • The process to find, court and onboard a president
  • How to discuss hiring your replacement with your executive team


“The first place that I like to start is making sure that I understand and they understand what it is that they’re really doing in the business.” - Mike Frommelt

“You want to incentify [the leadership team] to grow the business while you’re doing what you want to do, whether you’re becoming the chairman of the board or you’re on a beach somewhere.” – Mike Frommelt  

“This is not about putting yourself out to pasture.” – Ryan Tansom

 “I think that if you have too much operational and you leave the magic of the visionary aside, things can implode, which I think a lot of people will also see.” – Ryan Tansom

“Choices, choices, choices equals freedom, freedom, freedom.” - Ryan Tansom

The Takeaway:

One of the MOST important things you can do to build a more valuable company AND give yourself more freedom is find someone to replace your role and transfer the tribal knowledge that you have in your head (this doesn’t mean you have to go out to pastor or become irrelevant, just that you have transferred your knowledge and the company’s reliance on you so you can have the freedom to work in the areas of the business that give you energy AND have more options to do what you want with the business because you have created a more sustainable business with more transferable cash flow.


KeyStone Search, website

Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman, Amazon

ARKONA Boot Camp

Reach out to me if you have questions about the boot camp! 

You can also reach out to me via email at, on my LinkedIn, or you can call me at 612-720-6530.

About Mike:

Mike Frommelt Co-founded KeyStone Search in early 2002 based upon the belief something was missing in the search industry; A focus on cultural fit as a key indicator of executive success. KeyStone works exclusively with privately-held businesses who understand the importance of cultural fit. KeyStone also has special expertise working with companies who are employee-owned (ESOPs) as well as companies utilizing EOS/Traction.

Brought to you by Ryan Tansom of Life After Business