What’s your greatest strength as a CEO?






You likely have an area or two where you are consistently confident and naturally do well. Whatever that area of strength might be, we want to warn you: it might become your Achilles’ heel. As owners, we tend to invest in the areas that we consider our weak points while trusting our strengths to carry the day in others. We know we have limited resources, so it makes sense to spend what we have on backstopping the places where we’re most vulnerable, right?


This tendency leads many founders to under-invest in areas where they have natural strength. Two of the most common functions are sales and marketing. Most owners are decent salespeople, so they figure they can compensate for a weakness in generating revenue through a force of personality and sheer will. 


But determination only goes so far, and you may reach a plateau where your greatest strength becomes what’s holding you back.


How Gold Medal Service Got Stuck at $700,000


Mike Agugliaro is an electrician by training and a natural salesman in practice. He’s a gifted speaker, and his warm personality makes him a magnet for customers. When he started Gold Medal Service with his partner Rob Zadotti, they didn’t invest much in sales and marketing. When Agugliaro was interviewed on the Built to Sell Radio podcast, he admitted that the extent of their marketing in their first decade of operations was pinning a business card on the corkboard of the local coffee shop. 


Over 12 years, the business grew slowly to around $700,000 in revenue, which was when Zadotti announced he was leaving. The news made Agugliaro re-evaluate what they had been doing. He realized they had been massively under-investing in sales and marketing. 


Agugliaro convinced his partner to stay, and together, they started investing heavily in sales and marketing. At the time, the Yellow Pages were still the primary way homeowners found service providers, so they sprang for a double-page spread. They tried radio, fliers, and just about any marketing technique they could measure.


Then, the partners started to think of their trucks as giant rolling billboards. Agugliaro’s wife researched and discovered that humans are hardwired to notice the color yellow. Agugliaro and his wife reasoned that humans must have evolved to avoid bees, so they added black lettering. Gold Medal’s 65 trucks were bright yellow and black and became a mainstay on the streets of New Jersey. 


The investments in marketing paid off, and Gold Medal went from $700,000 in revenue in 2004 to a whopping $32 million in sales by 2017. Months later, Sun Capital acquired Gold Medal for a significant premium over the 5 x EBITDA multiple typical of the home services industry. 


The takeaway? Your greatest strength can help you start a business. Still, at some point, you may be tempted to underinvest in your strengths, which is when they switch from your most significant assets to a hidden liability. As your business grows, you may need to invest in areas you never considered necessary in the past!



Looking for more insights for strengthening your business? That’s what we’re here for! Check our Community Events page for opportunities to get more connected with our catalytic community and start sharpening your edge today.


Hallie Knox
Post by Hallie Knox
September 28, 2023
Hallie Knox graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelors in English Literature, and quickly followed her passion for words and story into a career in content writing. She's loved working on everything from blog posts to marketing emails to internal reports for clients in consulting, education, tech, and beyond. Hallie has been involved in various writing projects for Acumen since April 2022, and is thrilled to officially join the team as our Content Writer! Aside from her writing and editing work, Hallie spent a few years as a literacy and special education teacher, and continues to serve part-time as an educator for a fully outdoor forest school on the side. A "missionary kid" who grew up moving all over Europe, Asia, and the Balkans, she is now settled in Boise, Idaho, where she reads avidly, cooks experimentally, attends St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, and spends time with her twin daughters, husband, and their two big goofy dogs.