What does a Chief of Staff actually do?

Long distance moves and career changes are among the most important topics of what become the focus for work-life decisions. It’s such an important topic to me personally, that I feel like I should clear the air of a few things around my new role at Volusion and the decisions leading up to it.

First, I’m not a career-path guy. I’m a risk-taker by nature. I left the corporate ladder climb in late 2009 after working with some great companies (eHarmony, Intuit, IAC) to make change, drive growth and build high-performing teams.

Second, I’m super passionate about the intersection of technology and business. I’ve learned that the greatest companies in the world embrace this intersection incredibly well and have learned how to drive innovation and business growth as a result.

Third, I’ve started companies. Some have done well. Some I just fucked up. I’m super proud of all the experiences, camaraderie, partnerships, friendships, and tough lessons I’ve learned along the way.

That’s great, but who am I, really? It’s always hard to answer this openly without coming off as having an ego, but I’m basically the guy that understands business at the macro level, can form quarterly/yearly plans at the strategic level, execute at the tactical level and occasially rolls his sleeves up to get something operational done. Combine that with my customer-first mentality towards product and technology (aka startup experience) and a track record for creating high-performing teams, and you have yourself a Bardia (that’s me).

So getting back to the title of this blog, and I get this question a few times a month, what does a Chief of Staff do? The short generic answer is, it varies depending on the company size and needs of the CEO. The short answer for my specific role, it’s basically a co-CEO role bundled within a neater title. This post has some great insights and can help answer the ‘why should our organization have this role’ question.

The longer answer requires a little more background. I actually had to make a tough decision to shut-down a startup and handing the reigns of my creative agency back to a fellow co-founder in order to take this Chief of Staff position. Oh, also had to move my family from Los Angeles to Austin in a very short time and had to be come to terms with shifting my mindset from ‘being the boss’ to ‘being a co-boss with caveats and constraints’.

Volusion is a great company with happy + recurring SaaS customers, super smart + capable employees, and an amazing Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO (Kevin Sproles). But there’s always room to improve, especially with an exit in mind. So I’m here to help improve every single aspect of the organization, continuously and relentlessly. Every day, I obsess over culture, strong financials, team + individual performance, modernization of employee benefits, executive + cross-functional alignment using OKRs, creating amazing products that delight our customers, and just about everything else that could be made better.

Parting thought: I joined Volusion because my aspirational goal is to create the best tech company, period. And so far, it’s been a great decision because I get to help solve all the tough challenges and make things even better for our customers and employees.

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