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by Harry Robinson
Have you ever asked someone for advice? Of course, you have. Everyone asks for advice for just about everything in life. How to be happier. How to be healthier. How to make friends and find love. How to live financially independent lives.


Harry Robinson, Chair of Vistage International

But in the workplace, are we as eager to ask for advice? We’re often told to look it up on the internet. Google it. People don’t seem to have the time or inclination to help each other. Sometimes it’s because of a sense of competition, or jealousy, or just not enough time to make it a priority.

It’s especially tough for CEOs and business owners to ask for advice. Aren’t they supposed to know everything? And aren’t they too busy to give advice?

If you really want your company to succeed, you have to continue to learn new and better ways to deal with your changing marketplace and environment. What about millennials who are 25% of the workforce today but will be 50% of the workforce in 2020? How should we attract and retain them? How do we work with our bank in a more restrictive lending environment or with customers who use us as their bank? How should we deal with technology? How will you get a return on any investment?

How can you learn most effectively?

So what does taking personal responsibility for my own growth look like? Well, you could start by reading a great book on business. But with hundreds of books written every year, you can’t possibly read them all, even if you just read summarized versions.

You could talk to your friends in business. But unless it’s a somewhat structured process with an established frequency, it will be difficult to keep up with a rapidly changing environment.

So where can I go to get answers and best practices? The answer is to participate in a round table of other CEOs, owners or executives in groups of 12 to 16, dedicated to helping each other grow and get more of whatever they want.

In a group of peers committed to helping each other grow personally and professionally, you can expect to learn new ways to deal with long-held issues. New strategies. New ways to execute better in every way in your business.

You could form your own business round table, or you could join an existing round table. In Cincinnati, we are blessed with many alternatives. The Chamber of Commerce offers CEO round tables. There’s EO  ̶  Entrepreneur’s Organization  ̶  a group of motivated entrepreneurs who want to start up a new business or rapidly grow a small one. There’s Aileron in Dayton with a round table for small, emerging businesses. There’s YPO  ̶ Young President’s Organization, a self-facilitated round table for young CEOs and owners. Or there is Vistage Worldwide, perhaps the most robust round table program and certainly the largest CEO organization in the world. Vistage offers roundtables for business owners and CEOs plus professional coaching and mentoring.

In these roundtables, you grow by receiving advice from other successful peers who share experiences and best practices in a completely confidential environment with non-competing CEOs from other industries. But even if they are not in your industry, many of their ideas and best practices can be applied to your business, because 60 to 70% of what every CEO does is the same.

Problems with business strategy: What products or services do we want to offer and to whom and where? Challenges with people: How do we attract and retain the talent we need to be successful and grow? Opportunities to improve the corporate culture. Issues with pricing and profitability. Figuring out an exit plan and having an orderly leadership transition.

Participating in a vibrant, growth-oriented round table with other successful and experienced leaders is a great way to have an informal board of advisors for yourself and your organization. What a wonderful resource to help you achieve all that you want without having to do the heavy lifting of finding and leading such a group yourself. Choose the program that best fits your needs and situation. The good news is that you have a number of good alternatives.

Suggested reading

The Power of Peers by Leon Shapiro and Leo Bottary