What to Expect at a Vistage CEO Peer Advisory Group Meeting

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Hello. My name is Bill. Today is my first Vistage meeting. It is 8:00 A.M., and as I walk through the door of the conference room, the butterflies in my stomach, from both excitement and nervousness take flight.

As I walk in I see groups of members in deep conversation. By the way that they listen to each other, I can tell that they are deeply interested in, and care for, each other. Cheryl, the leader of the group (Chair) welcomes me and introduces me to two members. She asks Jill, a 7-year member, to be my mentor for the day and walk me through the processes and rituals of the group. Jill welcomes me and escorts me to my assigned seat. Bob, the timekeeper for today’s meeting, rings bells to signal that meeting is starting.

I take my seat and see my customized meeting folder in front of me. I look around the room and wonder how I am going to fit in with these high-powered CEOs. How long will it take me to get to know them and their businesses?

As the meeting starts, Cheryl asks each member to give me some advice on how to maximize the value of my membership and what to expect during my first year. Members tell me that:

  1. My group and Chair will challenge me.
  2. I will be held accountable for my commitments.
  3. I will feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Meetings include difficult discussions, both business and personal.
  4. I will grow professionally and personally. Cheryl adds that a recent D&B survey shows that companies of Vistage members grow faster than the average D&B company.
  5. I will give and receive lots of feedback. Improvement and growth cannot happen without it.
  6. Starting today, members want me to share my expertise, and unique experience and perspectives.
  7. During my meetings and one-to-one sessions with Cheryl, I will be working on my business, not in
  8. I will develop lifelong relationships because of the deep sharing in the group.
  9. The main purpose of participating is to become a better leader and person. This is not a networking group. Direct solicitation between members is prohibited. This ensures that members can focus on giving each other unbiased feedback and support.
  10. Cheryl’s role is to provide the processes and structure required for the group to focus on providing valuable feedback, recommendations, and advice to each other.
  11. I will receive many ideas in the meetings. One member says it is like drinking from a firehose. I should focus on implementing 2-3 items at a time.
I will feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Meetings include difficult discussions, both business and personal. Click To Tweet

Cheryl welcomes everyone, reviews the day’s agenda and asks the group if they would like to make any changes.

First, I give a quick introduction of myself using the Vistage “Stickman” as a guide.

Next, our speaker, Dr. Gustavo Grodnisky on Culture Trumps Everything, speaks for the rest of the morning. I learn how important a company’s culture is, and I receive many ideas on how to improve mine. [Vistage provides 8 speakers per year.There are 4 meetings without a speaker where members focus on more of their own issues.] Every member of the group shares his/her biggest takeaway from the speaker and commits to one idea we will implement (called “Action Items”).

I will develop lifelong relationships because of the deep sharing in the group. Click To Tweet

We break for lunch, and I eat and talk to Steve and Jack. I learn more about them as individuals and the businesses they lead.

After lunch, Cheryl announces details of the next meeting. Jack has a birthday this month and each member shares what they appreciate most about him. Jack seems touched by the comments. I wonder how my employees would react if I did the same with them?

Next is “Significant Events” and answering the Question of the Month. Each member shares a key event from their business and personal lives. In addition, each member answers a thought-provoking question posed by Cheryl. This month’s question is “What are you tolerating that you no longer want to?” I realize that I am tolerating a few under-performers in my business and that I need to have a frank discussion with each of them.

Sue is hosting today’s meeting and will share her Host Presentation with the group.

The Host Presentation includes an overview of the presenter’s business including a financial review, goal progress, organization chart, etc. Sue is taking a deep dive into an opportunity, challenge, problem, or half-baked idea. Today, she is focusing on how to develop her leadership team. That makes me think about two of my employees who have a lot of potential.

After her presentation, the other members provide her written feedback on the clarity and quality of her presentation.

Sue identifies 2-3 Action Items to address based on the group’s feedback and her “Accountability Tracker” for the month, and she writes them down in a notebook. “Uh-oh”, I think. This group is serious about commitments!

Next, Fred presents a topic for discussion to the group. He wants to know how to generate cash to support his growth goals. I have that same question!

Raji is scheduled for an update to the group. These quick updates are scheduled in between issues and host presentations.

At 4:15 p.m. we wrap up. The group provides Vistage and Cheryl with feedback regarding the overall value of the meeting and speaker. Sally is “Yoda” for the day and she shares her favorite member quotes from today.

At 4:45, as I get into my car to head home, my head is spinning from the many new ideas that I took away from my first meeting. I learned a lot from listening to other members talk about their own challenges. I am surprised at how much we all have in common, regardless of the type of business we run. I have a lot to learn about the other members before I am caught up, but based on my interactions with them today, I am really looking forward to it. I understand why Cheryl advised me that I will have a 12-month adjustment period. Above all, I see how this program will help my business and my leadership skills!

If you’re ready to join 16 other CEO’s, Presidents, and Business Owners in a confidential setting where you’ll be challenged and rewarded like never before, I invite you to contact me to learn more about becoming a Vistage member.

I will receive many ideas in the meetings. One member says it is like drinking from a firehose. I should focus on implementing 2-3 items at a time. Click To Tweet
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