The organization now known as CEO Focus was formed in 2001. Starting with a single group in Indianapolis, the organization has grown to over twenty five cities in North America. CEO Focus started with a simple philosophy- business owners learn best from other business owners. We believe in the power of peer consulting and business advisory groups.
This starts with our founder. In 1994, our founder joined a CEO group while running a manufacturing concern. The company was doing well, but he found himself struggling with growth issues, no one to talk to, and constantly re-inventing the wheel. His positive experience in this peer group created his desire to form CEO Focus.
There seems to be an infinite supply of CEO learning opportunities. To us, this begs the question, “Is knowledge what is keeping business owners from getting to the next level?” In our mind, the answer is “no.” Additional knowledge can be invaluable, however, when quizzed, most CEOs say that they need to better execute upon the ideas and knowledge they already possess. This truism forms one of the core beliefs of CEO Focus. That is, CEOs need systems and methodologies to capitalize on their existing knowledge far more than the stress and confusion of yet more unimplemented ideas. A business advisory board of CEO peers is the best way we have found to create such a system.
Our second core philosophy is that business owners learn from sticky case studies. For information to be truly valuable is must be 1) relevant to you, 2) come from the right source and 3) be personal. There is an abundance of terrific information in business books; however, we find that most business owners do not get much actionable content from books. Why? Business books are general and theoretical. It is simply too hard to connect the dots as to how this applies to MY business. Secondly, information has to come from a credible and likeable source. Many business owners are anti-academic. That is, they think, “What does some professor know about my business or the real business world?” Fellow business owners are much more credible as they are living with the same experiences every day. Third, you can read a case study in a book about how some business owner created success or made some mistake. However, it rarely sticks. Why? There is no personal attachment to some guy in a book. You don’t know him. You don’t see his pain or gain. You don’t see enough of the details to matter.
The bottom line is that business owners learn significantly more from case studies and best practices from other business owners with whom they have a deep relationship. This makes the information stick. There are two kinds of best practices: the ones you self-develop the hard way, and ones you learn from others the easy way. Learning from sticky case studies greatly accelerates business success.
The third core philosophy of CEO Focus is that quality small business coaching and consulting doesn’t come from the magic coaching playbook. You cannot teach someone to be a great business mentor. It is a talent that requires twenty or thirty years of business experience. The premise that you can go to a small business coaching school and learn to work with business leaders is insidious. Great business skills require time and experience, not reading and class.
To this end, we are very fussy about our business advisory group leaders. Since most of our markets have only one or two group leaders, we can hold out for the best talent in that market. We demand the best quality people and compensative them commensurate with their skills. This formula continues to provide us with the best of the best. In turn, this attracts the highest quality group members. It can be difficult to manage a talent-based business; however, the results delivered to our clients make it worth the extra effort.
By 2018, CEO Focus will serve fifty North American markets. We will continue to grow only as fast as we can find top talent in a local market. For instance, there are several major US cities we currently do not serve. The reason for this is that we have not found a leader that meets our standards. We would rather leave a market unserved than under-deliver to our CEO clients.
We believe our mission is to improve lives through business. An organization comprised of former business owners understands that your business controls much of your life. A good business equals a good life. A bad business makes for a challenging home life. By creating the best possible business for our members, we create a more meaningful whole-life experience.