Entrepreneurship · Management

Where do CEOs go for support and sounding boards?


March 27th, 2015

Been thinking quite a lot lately about who CEOs/Founders go to for support and as a sounding board. To share big things or big concerns, It isn't your team, it definitely is not your board and often you need a different outlet than cofounders. Sometime Advisors fill this role, but it's much less about a topic and much more about a personal connection. Curious who people here go to or if you're part of any of the invite-only organizations (other than FD) that do this?

Shobhit Verma Ed Tech Test Prep

March 27th, 2015

Depends on the severity.
Friends- for advice on how to find a solution for the problem.
Spouse- when you need to confess that you screwed up.
Mom- To realize that you can never screw up anything. Hold your head high and get back into the game.

Steven Schkolne Computer Scientist on a Mission

March 27th, 2015

Hi Lucas - I am part of a private group in Los Angeles, a CEO group, it is pretty awesome. It is indeed "lonely at the top" meaning that - as a CEO, you have to deal with a bunch of issues. And my peers and friends don't really get it. Some of these peers/friends are indeed perhaps "above" me - meaning that they earn more, or whatever... but the unique struggles of having to maintain face, make decisions, manage personnel, solve financial problems, etc. -- and take ownership of it -- and make time and mental space for your personal life. It's indeed a lonely feeling and a bit of emotional support goes a long way. Also, often many people on the group have lived through a problem that has arisen, and have a depth of experience-based advice. I've seen some pretty miraculous things in my group. There's nothing like a roomful of your peers pointing out a blind spot. Pretty effective stuff.

I have no idea how to go about finding one of these. There is this company Vistage that has a nationwide network, and they have some competitors -- you can search. These may be less intimate or selective but, well, I haven't done any research.

Matias O'Keefe

March 27th, 2015

You should explore the concept Vistage is offering. I´m considering something like this for myself. It´s a group of peers that get together with a moderator to discuss general strategic and personal issues in a formal way. 
I believe the moderator in general has been CEO of a company and you get to meet for a couple of hours a month with him to specifically discuss your company too. 

Hope this helps!

Iain Forrest Husband & Father, Creative Entrepreneur and Professional Tour Guide

March 28th, 2015

I'd have to say that my Wife is number one. Even if she doesn't get all the intricacies of the subject she lets me talk through anything which often helps on it's own.

Other than that I would suggest forming a mastermind group. Try to pick people who are at your current level or just above. This will not only give you support but also accountability. There are many forms of mastermind groups. The one I like the most though is:
4-5 people
1-1.25hrs / week meeting physically (1 in 4 virtual is fine)
5 min greeting and accountability check
10-15min per person to discus whatever they want and get feedback from the others.
1min per person to set a goal for the next week.
If one person has a big issue to discuss it gets brought up before the meeting and others can either relinquish their time on the floor or everyone has to agree to run the meeting over time.

Personally I like weekly because you stay on top of everything. Monthly means you spend too long catching up on what everyone has been up to.

Michael Nixon Managing Director at Tekna Structures LLC

March 27th, 2015

One of the best that I am affiliated with is a group called C12 (www.c12group.com).  It is an accountability group for CEOs and Business owners - all persons who have or are fighting similar battles to your's.  The Christian aspect is particularly helpful as the moral implications of any decision are not divorced from the purely economic.  Highly recommended.


March 28th, 2015

No question about the answer to me - a coach. I've often had one and eventually became one. You need unemotional, outside-in perspective you can't get from a colleague, spouse, or investor.
Peer groups are also good - though be sure they're facilitated, vetted, committed, and consistent (no drop-ins). There should be a cost so you know everyone has skin in the game.

Brendan Benzing Cofounder at MyNeighbor

March 27th, 2015

I think it depends on the issue...sometimes advisers/investors have conflicts of interest.  Other CEOs/founders are often the best, especially ones that may have made a bit more progress than you have, and have done it recently.  I think the hardest thing to find is someone with similar sector experience b/c in reality they are often competitors, but  having recently started a company, my sense if founders help founders.  Actually this forum is also a good place to start!


March 27th, 2015

I have found Meetup to be an excellent resource for finding groups like the one you described.

Peter li.blueoyster~@~gmail.com] Peter Jones creates solutions for product USP, market messaging, team building, venture and other commercial capital

March 27th, 2015

Hi Lucas,

I agree about the personal connection, I've met many founders in London, and I believe we all prefer to talk face to face over coffee.

CEOs have a lonely job, being the one to make "all the decisions".

I say this, since leadership is not really about that. You need to set direction and tone, ensure compliance systems are in place, find and motivate talented managers, but above all else empower staff to make great decisions for you.

Happy to chat more if you're in London, or we could Skype if that's easier.

Peter Jones

John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

March 29th, 2015

Vistage, or similar groups (as others have suggested). Also some hire a CEO Coach or Business Advisor.