I learned more in the 7 years I was a Vistage Chair than I learned in my 30+ prior years as an entrepreneur. That’s the Value of a CEO peer advisory group. I underwent a grueling interview and selection process when I joined Vistage. Vistage afforded me world-class training. And ultimately, the greatest benefit was seeing firsthand what happens when a group of executives sit in a safe, non-judgmental space together to:
- solve each other’s pressing problems
- support each other through tough times
- provide unbiased council
- fill the vacuum of loneliness that surrounds leaders
Vistage taught me how to curate and select members to form a cohesive group of business leaders that give and get equally from the group. I was taught multiple methodologies to process issues effectively. Vistage taught me to run a meeting that maximized benefit to all our members. That was the value of Vistage.
The most significant lesson I learned while working as a Vistage Chair was the corrosive effect of Private Equity on the values of a business.
When Vistage was privately owned, its growth was fueled by the organic word-of-mouth growth of devoted Vistage members. The business model was simple, take care of the chairs, train them in the art of chairing and coaching to provide the best product to the members, and the business will thrive. It was simple. It was powerful, and members benefited.
When Vistage was purchased by private equity… I felt it had lost its way. I felt the mission became more like the Amway of Peer Advisory Groups. The business model changed from an emphasis on careful coach selection and training in the art of coaching and chairing to the business of chairing. Vistage devolved from growing business by providing the best possible product to recruiting and throwing against the wall as many chairs as possible. Training emphasis changed from creating the best coaches to creating the best salespeople. It started to feel like a network marketing pyramid scheme. Amway!
The unintentional lesson I learned from being a Vistage Chair, the real value of Vistage for me was that the quality of the product was more important than the quality of the salesforce. I resigned from Vistage.
Vistage charged members, on average, $1,500 a month for a fixed-price menu of services. Many of these services drive up the cost while providing little value.
- Speakers – speakers are paid to speak and reimbursed for airfare and hotel – many of my members would skip the speaker sessions
- Private Intranet – with less information than available on the internet and a simple google search
- Highly Paid C-Level Corporate Overhead Executives – they look good in suits
- Vistage Marketing and Administration – expensive services that provide no value to members and little value to chairs
When I hung out my shingle, I redesigned the process to give members more value at a lower cost.
ThinkTank vs. Vistage
I’m a former Vistage Chair, and I run peer-advisory groups and coach business executives. I help people who run businesses to figure out what to do and hold them accountable for doing it. Check me out if you are investigating peer-advisory groups like Vistage, The Alternative Board (TAB), or Renaissance Executive Forums.
If you’d like to see what a coaching session is like or to discuss, link here to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation online coaching session today.