My recent post about the power of peer groups prompted a couple of questions about how they work and what really happens. Some of the interest was specific to the CEO Ride, which is a peer group/conference for business leaders who ride motorcycles.
The typical comment I receive is a sarcastic, “Of course it was a conference !” … inferring that perhaps it was a boondoggle. For people who have not experienced it I concur that it certainly sounds like just an excuse to ride motorcycles, rather than a business event. The reality is that I always derive great value from these events, and let me explain that a little.
To get an explanation from the founder, Dwain Deville (Author of the Biker’s Guide to Business), here is a CEO Ride video that gives a clue to allure of these events.
One of Dwain’s quotes reads, “I would sooner be on my bike thinking about business than at my desk thinking about riding!”
The most recent ride that I attended was in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, near the border with Tennesse and Georgia. I flew into Atlanta and picked up my rental bike from the Atlanta EagleRider dealership, joined up with four other people and we rode about two and a half hours to our destination, a couple of cabins up in the mountains.
That evening we quickly settled in, opened a few bottles of wine enjoyed some barbequed dinner and got to know each other. Meeting new and interesting people, who already have two major things in common with me (riding motorbikes and business ownership) is always stimulating. We learn so much just through these conversations, ranging from how business ownership affects our lives, through how we cope with the stress and how we work on our personal relationships. These kind of conversations are priceless and we make new friends for life!
The mornings are spent in a more structured format, focusing in on the major business challenges facing the participants and using a methodology developed by Dwain. Again there is value here because when new eyes are brought to bear on a challenge it can provide new clarity, new ideas and potential solutions. The mere act of having the discussion in a different setting has value because it makes you think differently. The bonus here is that even when discussing other people’s challenges it is rare that there is not some relevance to your own world.
The afternoons are spent on the bikes, typically four or five hours of riding with perhaps a couple of stops along the way. The map above shows just a few of the possible rides in the Smokey Mountains. We rode through the Tail of the Dragon (311 curves in 11 miles) and back. We rode the Cherohala Highway, Hellbender and many other roads with challenging curves. Anyone who rides a motorbike knows that while riding there can be no other thoughts in your head, it is a great way to clear the conscious mind and allow the brain to background process important issues. As leaders, quiet time is tough to find, and bike time is a great way to achieve that same clarity!
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
These retreats provide me with time to think about my business, fresh eyes on my business issues, new friends and a great way to recharge the batteries. That is a pretty good value proposition! Oh yeah, I get to ride too!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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