When I started my company I called a couple of friends who also ran their own companies. I asked them to call a couple of other people and explore the prospect of a monthly gathering of business owners. We started a “President’s Club” with the objective of learning from, and supporting, each other. We kept it simple, met after work at someone’s office, brought in sandwiches and discussed the kinds of issues we were facing. Anything discussed was confidential and for a bunch of years this group gathered on a monthly basis … indeed many are still friends.
Over the years I have belonged to a few different peer groups, all of which have been beneficial. In recent years I joined a group of CEOs, who happen to have a shared passion for motorcycles. Once or twice a year I will head out for 4 days with a few of these fellow business leaders and we spend the morning on business discussions, afternoons riding and evenings networking. Powerful stuff if you generally spend your days tied to a desk dealing with the million and one issues facing any leader on a daily basis.
“Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?” Voltaire
There are many peer groups for CEOs and business owners however there is no real reason they should be restricted to this group. The one typical difference for business leaders is that they have no-one to talk with inside the company about some issues. Other than that, many of the benefits that business owners enjoy could be beneficial to anyone who formed a group of like minded individuals. These are the kinds of benefits peer groups provide.
- Shared experiences.
- The same kind of problems and issues.
- A common background .and therefore good understanding and empathy for each other’s situation.
- A place to be able to discuss concerns perhaps not so easily discussed at work.
- The benefit of many minds and experiences.
- The insight into how other companies operate.
“The only source of knowledge is experience.” Albert Einstein
If you are looking for ways to learn and grow, other than the normal options then perhaps forming a peer group might be of benefit. Here are a few tips …
- Invite people like yourself, but from different companies.
- Get then to invite a few people they know.
- Determine how big the group should be … probably not more than 12.
- Work on an agenda … raise issues/determine focus for a meeting/discuss issues/social ending (beer and munchies?)
- Set rules … confidentiality, attendance expected etc
- You might consider bringing in speakers, moderators etc.
- Keep it simple … and cheap.
- Do regular evaluations (quarterly?) to determine whether it is bringing value, and what could be improved.
Maybe peer groups could be the next big thing in personal development?
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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