I got invited to a Vistage “peer advisory group” meeting which I’m attending right now. I’ve never heard of the association before, but a quick Google search makes it look like they are established, so I’ll give them that. I’m naturally skeptical about any “CEO association” so it’s kind of amazing I committed to a five-hour meeting, but here we are. It’s being hosted at the law firm of Parson Behle Latimer, so it’s also a decent venue. And the people who have shown up aren’t fake CEOs of one-man companies that have no revenue, so I can’t complain about the other attendees, although they may feel differently about me.

8:55 – The meeting started off with a light breakfast, introductions, and now we’re hearing from Holly Green, “the founder and managing director of The Human Factor…a consulting firm focused on strategic planning and organizational development.” You can check out her website or her Forbes.com profile to get a better idea. She used to work for Ken Blanchard (One-Minute Manager, remember that?) She’s been speaking for a few minutes and so far I love her because she’s been talking about how great the Internet is and how everyone has to, well, basically hire an SEO firm like MWI. Any meeting I go to with 20 other CEOs where the speaker basically gives me a 5-minute plug can’t be too bad.

9:09 – So far so good. Holly is going strong and she’s an engaging, entertaining speaker. Still just getting into things.

Your brain digs what it already knows. It’s good at dealing with the familiar. We stick with what we know. We have a harder time dealing with new things. But we can.

Desire for speed has trumped the survival instinct with negative consequences…

How to slow down, apply one or two techniques to improve your life…

When it comes to leadership and managing, expose your thinking, clarity is more important than speed…

We don’t believe what we see, we see what we believe.

10:06 – Just had a little break. She’s telling us a story about being kidnapped and held ransom in Sao Paulo. Fun!

Ball passing video…we’re blind to the fact that we’re blind.

What’s one new habit I could form to pause, to look around, to not do, but to think?

Advice:

1. Sit down once a month with your team and watch a TED video that has nothing to do directly with your industry.

2. Once a month have someone from your team do a 7-minute presentation about something innovative in the world.

3. Go to a conference in a different industry, maybe a client’s industry.

Focus on a target…use future, active, past tense questions to focus your brain.

Example for me, I have a goal to land 5 new self storage clients for MWI, each paying $5K+ per month in SEO fees, by March 1, 2013.

To rewrite this in the future, active, past tense:

On Feb 28, 2013, when we have landed at least 5 new self storage clients for MWI, each paying $5K per month in SEO fees, we:

  • Contacted X number of self storage companies with X locations…
  • Leveraged the following customer testimonials…
  • Issued the following press releases…
  • Employed sales strategy X to…
  • Followed up with the 38 companies targeted during our chocolate campaign…
  • Launched new MWI website…
  • Used X industry contacts…
  • etc.

Use testimonials. How to get testimonials from customers…

1. Talk to them

2. Record it (either live or later with writing)

3. Massage it and send it back for approval

Where to put testimonials?

  • Website
  • Email newsletters
  • Printed materials
  • Walls of office
  • Videos

Stage your field of vision – Make your goals visual. “If I can’t walk into your office and see what winning looks like then you can’t tell me either and neither can your employees.”

Anything up for more than 30 days becomes ignored.

Change your perspective

Challenge assumptions

When you think you have the right answer ask yourself “What’s the second best answer?”

Expose yourself to diverse data

What’s my job as a leader? To set people up to be successful.

11:55 – Holly’s part is done, now we’re committing to action items we’re going to do and I guess they’re going to follow up with us later.

Lunch is being brought in…just looking out the window, the air quality in SLC looks horrible. Can it be worse than this in Hong Kong?

12:52: Lunch was good. Had a good chat with Craig from Olixo. They do “manufacturing, sourcing, and procurement” in Asia.

Now we’re exploring a specific problem one of the people here has, so we’re going through his issue and everyone gives input on that issue. Seems productive.

Summing Up

I’ve been in at least one of these groups before, plus some other things that are similar, and this is the best one I’ve been in, no doubt about it. It’s people I can relate to talking about real issues. There is value here without me needing to feel like I have to get someone here to sign up as a client. The speaker was good, things are organized, Dale was good as the moderator/group leader, and so yeah, I would come back to another meeting. If it was free. I suspect it isn’t free, but I haven’t gotten that pitch yet.