Influencer or CEO? A Difficult Decision I Had To Make

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

A number of years ago, I had to make a really hard decision.

Do I want to be more of an “influencer” or a CEO?

Being an influencer would involve a pretty specific path:

  • Writing all of the emails that we sent
  • Writing books
  • Hosting a podcast
  • Writing thought leadership posts
  • Posting daily on social media
  • Doing PR events
  • Speaking and attending conferences

The influencers that you see are generally not running the businesses that they are involved in if they have products that they are selling. They almost always have a CEO running the product side of the business so that they can focus on getting their message out.

I ended up choosing the CEO path. Why?

I tried to find CEOs to do my job, but it turns out that finding a CEO who is capable of running a company like SelfDecode effectively is non-existent – or at least I couldn’t find anyone and still can’t.

A very effective CEO is required to run SelfDecode, because I would not have been able to assemble the team that I did without that.

Capable people want to be led by a highly capable CEO. That’s why people want to work with Elon Musk. He also tried to hire a CEO for a while and gave up after he saw that it wasn’t possible.

The extreme complexity of what we are building at SelfDecode really was the nail in the coffin and essentially ruled out hiring a CEO for the position.

The fact is that SelfDecode is not a simple supplement business. How do I know?

Because we actually produced a supplement company (check it out at getjo.co!) – essentially during our sleep. It was pretty easy.

Compared to the effort that SelfDecode takes, Jo took about 1/500 of the effort. I essentially made these supplements for myself, employees, friends, and family as a hobby.

As much as I love them and take them every day, SelfDecode is my main focus because it has the potential to really improve the world in a significant way.

During the last few years, I’d say over 95% of my time was spent running the company (depending on the time period), and the rest was spent on influencer-type activities.

Results as a CEO

Over a year ago, I wanted to take SelfDecode to the next level.

I wanted to make sure that our science and user experience was way better than what we had before and everything else on the market.

So we raised $8M USD and built an extensive roadmap that was very ambitious and would normally cost over $100M USD to implement, but we were going to complete it for a fraction of that cost.

Our aim was:

  • To build the most user-friendly consumer precision health app – using genetics, labs, and lifestyle assessments to help people optimize their health.
  • To build the best professional platform for health coaches and practitioners looking to provide precision health to their clients.
  • To build the underlying technology that can be licensed to other businesses and make its way into mainstream healthcare.

The goal is to get precision healthcare into the hands of as many people as possible.

So, I hired 80 people during that time in order to implement our roadmap, and it took a lot of work to get everyone together and organize the best team.

Because we’re involved in some really complex science and technology, we really did require an A+ team.

I’m proud to say that we’ve been successful at building the right team and that we have achieved our main goals.

There’s still a lot of work to do to truly revolutionize the health industry – I don’t just want to be 3X better than what’s out there, I want to be 10X better.

I can confidently say that SelfDecode is way ahead of any other company in the 3 areas that we identified.

However, we aren’t building this advanced technology and keeping it to ourselves. This is why we’ve signed contracts with 15 companies to license out our technology, so that they can build their own apps and improve healthcare around the world using legitimate tools.

One of the things we successfully built is the most accurate polygenic risk scoring on the market. Soon, we’ll be submitting our results to peer-reviewed journals to prove this to the rest of the world. This is a core piece of technology that can transform medicine as we know it – by helping predict diseases earlier.

But why build SelfDecode at all? If it’s so difficult, why wouldn’t I just continue down the path of being a health influencer?

I’ll be answering that in my next blog post!


About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen flipped the script on conventional and alternative medicine…and it worked. Growing up, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, anxiety, and other issues that were poorly understood in traditional healthcare. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a learning journey to decode his DNA and track his biomarkers in search of better health. Through this personalized approach, he discovered his genetic weaknesses and was able to optimize his health 10X better than he ever thought was possible. Based on his own health success, he went on to found SelfDecode, the world’s first direct-to-consumer DNA analyzer & precision health tool that utilizes AI-driven polygenic risk scoring to produce accurate insights and health recommendations. Today, SelfDecode has helped over 100,000 people understand how to get healthier using their DNA and labs.
Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, with a mission of empowering people to take advantage of the precision health revolution and uncover insights from their DNA and biomarkers so that we can all feel great all of the time.


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