How do I transform my CEO self into a digitally savvy guy that gets it?

Dear Aunty B,

I am a nice old bloke who runs a big company with a big title and resides in a big corner office with a PA outside who has been with me for the last 12 years and guards me like a rottweiler.

This includes doing everything for me online which, while very advantageous, means I look slightly with it online without having any real idea how the whole thing works.

There are two things I fear: Leaving this business and having to do all this stuff myself, as I wouldn’t have any idea.

The board I am on has people like me and while we get lots of reports and briefings that help us understand how things are changing, we really don’t have any gut feel for online. How do I even start understanding this when I work long hours every day anyway, and when I ask people to explain it, they just look at me and do it (even my kids!). I read SmartCompany but there is quite a bit I don’t get.

Luddite no more


Dear Luddite no more,

Just think. Australia’s boards are full of people like you with absolutely no idea that the old world has toddled off and there is a new land at the top of the Faraway Tree.

What keeps me awake at night though is this: do the board members of Australia have any idea how much they don’t know about the new world? Or are they like you? Secretly frightened that they are going to be found out at any second but with absolutely no idea what to do except blame their wonderful PAs?

Many of them are just up to old tricks: coming out with strategy documents with names like “Transforming for the Future” when it is a document for managing decline, slowly retreating from many key areas of their business, and handing it to much more nimble competitors. Not that I am complaining, as our whole business success has been built on the back of competitors with boards like that.

Okay. Here is what you should do. Give your long suffering PA some flowers because, take it from me, you are a pain in the neck. Then… well, I was going to say why attempt the impossible and tell you to surround yourself with digitally savvy people and then listen really carefully. But you know what? That is not going to solve your problem long term as you still won’t really get it.

So what you have to do is throw yourself in the deep end. You need to find a digital buddy – someone 30 years younger who is going to teach you what it is all about. You are going to spend 30 minutes a day doing everything you have never done. You are going to join LinkedIn, go on Twitter; even Facebook if you can bear it. You are going to understand what SEM and SEO mean and how it works. You are going to start studying the digital strategies of your competitors. And you are going to ask your new best friend to explain everything you don’t get.

You are going to need to write it all down as you, of course, will forget it the first few times you are told. Then you are going to insist on cleaning out your board and bringing in people who understand the future. This is going to be fun! Well, sort of.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

Email your questions, problems and issues to right now!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.