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We Spoke to Brian Yui, co-founder of Sage Executive Group (SEG), about how peer to peer advisory for CEOs helps to create exceptional companies.  Yui is a serial entrepreneur himself, which lead to the idea for his current business venture; he, along with his partner, were noticing a lack of business support systems available to high-level executives. SEG has since doubled in the last year and they are continually expanding their network of top earning CEOs.

1.  Why Most CEO’s Need Peer to Peer Advisory.

  • Why do most CEOs and business owners need peer to peer advisory?

“The main reason is that a lot of the issues they may encounter would be inappropriate to discuss with subordinates; since they’re at the top, there’s no one else at the company who has the same experience and needs as the CEO.  For this reason, other CEOs fill the gap that employees at the office and friends don’t; peers who are in similar positions, in other industries, can help guide other CEOs.”

  • In what ways does having peer to peer advisory help create an exceptional company?

“Peer to peer advisory groups help entrepreneurs get to the next level.  They’re offered ideas and suggestions to help them through a crisis, growing pains, business expansion, and overall business health.  It’s like having your own personal board of directors giving you advice on how to grow your company.”

  • In what ways does peer to peer advisory help CEOs personally as well as professionally?

“CEOs can grow personally and develop strong personal relationships with like minded folks in these groups; growth by association is important.  Furthermore, the networking benefits of being in a group of peers, who are leaders in the community, are unlimited.”

  • Are there any other stories you can share that show how powerful this support structure can be?

“We’ve helped a company acquire another company for  5 million dollars.  There is always some business transaction going on between the CEOs as networking is a large part of these groups.”

 

2.  Choosing The Right Peer to Peer Advisory Organization Is Key

  • There are many different peer to peer advisory groups; why is choosing the right one so important?

“The most important thing is that CEOs have very limited time; it’s a good idea to research which peer advisory group is best suited for your goals and personality, as well as how much time each group requires you to participate.  Some of the bigger ones have a required social component as well, such as annual retreats and social functions; other groups are just business.  Some groups meet for 8 hours a month, some are for 5 hours a month, and also, some of the peer organizations, like ours, provide peer advisory boards for their C-suite executives.  We have one for sales and marketing and one for COOs and CFOs, where they get together once a month, at a much reduced price, to help each other grow in the C-level executive positions.”

  • What is the process for a CEO to choose the right group, how do they start and what should they be looking for?

“Start by talking to friends who are CEOs to find out which groups they belong to, the overall plus and minuses, what the costs are, and then do an exploratory meeting with some of the leaders of those groups; furthermore, attend a couple meetings as a guest to get a feel for the organization and what it stands for.”

  • How many groups do you think a CEO should be part of and why?

“It really depends on how much time they have and what they want to get out of it but as far as peer advisory groups, one is probably sufficient.  There is, however, always time for community service and non-profit groups, in addition to peer to peer advisory groups; it just depends on the capacity and desire of the CEO.”

  • Can you name some different peer to peer advisory groups and how they are different?

“The most popular is the Young President’s Organization (YPO); you have to be under the age of 45, their sales requirements are a little higher at $12 million and you must have have at least 50 full time employees or the equivalent.  They have both the social component and a peer to peer advisory group and the difference is they’re self managed; their peer groups are ran by the members themselves.  On the other hand, there are groups such as ours, Sage Executive Group, or Vistage where there is a facilitator that runs each meeting to make sure it’s efficient and that there is coaching available to CEOs for a particular issue and their group presentations.  Vistage is a worldwide peer to peer advisory group, the difference there is they meet for 8 hours a month and our group meets 5 hours a month.  You will find that many CEOs are unable to devote the entire day to peer to peer advisory but 5 hours seems to be a good time, including a lunch break, which is generally more palatable for most CEOs.  Entrepreneur’s Organization, which are generally smaller companies, is similar to YPO but their income and employee requirements are less and they don’t have a cap on the age, similar to Vistage and Sage Executive Group.”

 

3.  Peer to Peer Advisory Has Unique And Unexpected Outcomes

  • What are some unexpected positives that have come out of peer to peer advisory groups that you have been part of?

“You develop strong friendships with other entrepreneurs and you get inspired by their motivations and drive, versus just hanging out with your friends.  It’s also nice to find inspiration that comes from other entrepreneurs who are growing their businesses.”

  • How have you seen peer to peer advisory have an unexpected positive outcome on family relationships?

“Depending on which peer to peer advisory group you belong to, some cover personal issues, such as Entrepreneur’s Organization.  In my experience, I have seen it help people with everything from divorce issues to drug addiction; it’s really like a family supporting these people during their crisis’.  CEOs are able to call emergency meetings where they can just rely on their peers to help them through both business and personal issues.”

 

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