Monday, January 20, 2020

VACEOs Retreat 2020 Keynote Lineup

(Update March 25, 2020: This event has become a virtual event due to COVID-19. Visit for up-to-date information.)


We are pleased to announce that “Bowtie Economist” Elliot Eisenberg and member-favorite Marcus Sheridan will be the featured speakers at this year’s Retreat held at the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, VA, April 29-May 1, 2020.

Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is an internationally-acclaimed economist and public speaker specializing in making economics fun, relevant, and educational.

Marcus Sheridan is a highly sought-after international keynote speaker known for his unique ability to excite, engage, and motivate audiences. In 2017 Forbes named Marcus 1 of 20 “Speakers You Don’t Want to Miss.”

(Update March 17, 2020: This event has been canceled due to COVID-19)

  • Schedule of events
  • Register for this event
  • Keynote speaker lineup
  • Workshop speaker lineup
  • Retreat FAQs





(This event is for VA Council of CEOs Members and Sponsors only.)
About Retreat 2020.







“Economics 20/20: Growing But Slowing”
Keynote by “Bowtie Economist” Elliot Eisenberg

Elliot Eisenberg

“Hello VA Council of CEOs Members! Am very much looking forward to sharing my economic knowledge with you. In particular, I hope to help you better understand where we are in the business cycle, how good GDP growth will be over the 12 to 18 months, and how much longer we have until the next recession hits.” – Elliot Eisenberg

About Elliot’s Presentation
Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is an internationally acclaimed economist and public speaker specializing in making economics fun, relevant and educational. After listening to his talk you will be better able to plan for the near future by making better business decisions and as a result be a more confident leader in 2020.

About Elliot Eisenberg
Dr. Eisenberg has spoken to hundreds of business groups and associations, as a keynote speaker on topics including: economic forecasts, economic impact of industries such as homebuilding, tourism, consequences of government regulation, and other current economic issues. Dr. Eisenberg has been invited to testify before lawmakers and is often asked to comment on proposed legislation. His research and opinions have been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Bureau of National Affairs, Forbes, Fortune, and many other publications. He is a regularly featured guest on cable news programs, talk, and public radio. Learn more about Elliott Eisenberg.


“The Visual Sale: How to Embrace the Visual Revolution and Create a Culture of Video in Your Organization”


“The Digital Consumer: How Today’s Buyer Has Changed and What Your Business Must Do About It”

Keynote and Presentation by Marcus Sheridan

“We’re going to have a tremendous time together at the VA Council of CEOs Retreat. Together, we’ll challenge many assumptions and push the envelope of what’s possible with digital sales and marketing. Our entire conversation will be based on immediate takeaways and action items. No fluff. No theory. I’ll see you there!” – Marcus Sheridan

About Marcus’ Visual Sale Presentation

Studies have shown that by the year 2019, 80% of all content consumed online will be video-based content. With such a dramatic trend, what is your business or organization doing to not only meet the demands of today’s buyer but to also stay ahead of the marketplace and be prepared for what is next?

In this action-packed keynote, Marcus Sheridan will show powerful stories of how B2B and B2C companies are using video to not only build their brand but significantly drive sales and marketing revenue in the process. Sheridan will also discuss exactly how any organization, regardless of size, can develop its own culture of video and experience incredible results. In this talk you will:

  • See what type of video content does and does not move the needle in terms of sales and revenue.
  • Discover how to integrate video into the sales process to improve closing rates while decreasing sales cycles.
  • Learn how to set up an in-house “media company” and engage your team in the process, AND much, much more!


About Marcus’ Digital Consumer Presentation
More than any other time in the last 100 years, the buyer of today has made a dramatic shift in the way they make purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, many companies haven’t adapted to this shift and are not prepared for the continual evolution of this “digital consumer.”

In this talk, Marcus Sheridan brings clarity to the way buyers have changed and exactly what companies must do to, not only align themselves with this shift in buyer patterns but take advantage of the digital age as well. In this talk, you will:

  • Learn the shift that has happened with today’s buyer and what that means for sales and marketing departments going forward.
  • Discover exactly what types of content and messaging move the sales needle and truly get results.
  • Find out how video and visual learning is impacting the buying process and what organizations must do to be seen as a “media” company.

About Marcus Sheridan
Marcus is a highly sought-after international keynote speaker known for his unique ability to excite, engage and motivate audiences. In 2017 Forbes named Marcus 1 of 20 “Speakers You Don’t Want to Miss.” He has been dubbed a “Web Marketing Guru” by the New York Times and featured in Inc., The Globe and Mail, Forbes, and more.

As founder and president of The Sales Lion, which recently merged with IMPACT in 2018, Marcus has established one of the most successful digital sales and marketing agencies in the country. Within his speaking company, Marcus Sheridan International, Inc., he gives over 70 global keynotes annually where he inspires audiences in the areas of sales, marketing, leadership, and communication. Mashable rated his book, “They Ask, You Answer,” the “#1 Marketing Book” to read in 2017. Forbes listed it as one of “11 Marketing Books Every CMO Should Read.” Learn more about Marcus.

Posted by Staff at 2:11 pm
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Friday, January 17, 2020

Retreat 2020 FAQS

(Update March 25, 2020: This event has become a virtual event due to COVID-19. Visit for up-to-date information.)





The VACEOs Retreat 2020 will be held at the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, VA on April 29-May 1 this year. New to the Council? Here are some frequently asked questions about the Retreat experience.

(This event is for VA Council of CEOs Members and Sponsors only.)


vaceos retreat 2020 faqs

A: Yes. Your VACEOs Membership includes a ticket to this special yearly event where Members are able to learn and connect with national thought leaders and each other. (And have some fun too!)

A: Members who attend the Retreat have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn from national keynote speakers and take advantage of various leadership workshops. Program meals and planned activities from Wednesday night to Friday mid-day are also included for Members.

Membership does not include hotel rooms/expenses or activities outside of those offered within the program. Visit the 2020 Retreat Registration page for a detailed listing of the activities available at this year’s event.

A: Yes! Do consider coming in on Wednesday. This year we will have a speed networking and a light reception before a Hospitality Suite Hop Wednesday night. You don’t want to miss that. And during the day there are special activities. Why not maximize your time by making connections during one of the group activities planned that day? Events include a golf tournament, the Gorge hike, a  Polyface farms tour, or a bourbon & chocolate tasting. For a sit-down dinner on Wednesday, make your own plans at one of the many dining options at the Omni found here.

Visit the 2020 Retreat Registration page day for a full listing of events for each day.

A: Yes. As soon as possible! We have a block of rooms reserved through April 8. Use the special group link found in your confirmation to make your reservation.

A: The Retreat program is designed just for members and sponsors. We recommend that you immerse yourself. After all, this is a business retreat. We will have guest tickets for our two evening social events. Some folks have their spouse join them on Friday afternoon for an extra night or two of R&R. We have a reception Friday night just for the “lingerers.”

A: Not really. Let’s call it business casual or resort casual. Relax and be comfortable. Please dress accordingly for the party on Thursday night on the Casino Lawn.


A: If you arrive Wednesday, please check in the hotel, (time permitting), before you make your way to the group activity you’ve registered for or take advantage of other resort amenities, such as the spa.

If you arrive Thursday morning, we will officially welcome you at the Retreat Registration desk located outside the Grand Ballroom starting at 8:30 am.

Still have a question? Please contact us.

Posted by Staff at 10:03 am
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

VACEOs Retreat 2020


(Update April 29, 2020)

CEO Retreat Extends Through May: Cameron Herold Kicks Off Bonus Content on May 6


We are pleased to announce that our Virtual CEO Retreat will continue through May with these speakers and presentations! These events are for VACEOs Members and Sponsors only. Not a Member? We are offering a special no-cost membership in light of the current COVID-19 crisis. Watch this video to learn more:  “VA Council of CEOs Develops Community Roundtable Membership in Response to COVID-19





May 6, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.: Cameron Herold returns! He is a well-known and top-rated international speaker who ran his own companies during the 87 & 01 economic recessions. He coached dozens of companies through the 08/09 mortgage crisis and recession and in this presentation he will go over some amazing tips he covered in Chapters 11 & 12 of his first book, Double Double. Sign up for this and other events.



May 7, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.: René Haines is the President, founder and owner of FocalPath Coaching — a business and leadership coaching firm that works with clients all around the U.S. This workshop will cover moving forward in a post-pandemic world. How do you plan, project and forecast?  Sign up for this and other events.



May 13 and May 27, 10:15 – 10:45 a.m.: Back by popular demand, “Bowtie Economist” Elliot Eisenberg returns in May for a 15-minute chat with VACEOs Members and Sponsors.  Sign up for this and other events.



Retreat 2020 goes virtual!

(Update April 8, 2020)

CEO Series Workshop Speakers Announced

We continue this year’s virtual event with workshops by Natalie Garramone and Allan Tsang. These events are for VACEOs Members and Sponsors only.

“Using Conflict for Growth with Natalie Garramone”

April 14, 11:00 – 12:30 p.m.: “Using Conflict for Growth with Natalie Garramone”. This webinar will increase your awareness of conflict and its effect on you and your team.





“How to Negotiate with Allan Tsang”

April 23, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m: “How to Negotiate with Allan Tsang”. Learn how negotiation plays a vital role in business success. In light of the COVID-19 crisis this is a longer session (2 hours) to include more Q&A time.

To learn more about these workshops and other events, visit the Events page today.



(Update March 25, 2020)

The annual CEO retreat at The Omni Homestead has been canceled but contingency plans are underway!

We are pleased to announce beginning April 1, “Bowtie Economist” Elliott Eisenberg will offer Members and Sponsors a weekly, 15-minute video chat session.

We are also pleased to announce Marcus Sheridan will offer a one and one-half hour web workshop on April 2nd as well.

Links to both events coming soon. Also on the way, information about virtual webinars from our scheduled workshop speakers.

In the meantime, listen in here as Marcus shares a new message with Members.

(Update March 17, 2020)

We regrettably announce that the VACEOs Retreat is canceled due to COVID-19 and in compliance with the Governor’s directive to avoid large meetings for the next eight weeks.

While we are disappointed that this action was required, please know that contingency plans are being made and will be presented to the Board of Directors on Thursday. We will communicate our plans with you as they unfold.

The Omni Homestead has canceled all reservations related to the VACEOs Retreat. If you have any questions or concerns about that, please call The Omni Homestead at 800-838-1766. Lastly, if you have any ideas for how we can help you and the VACEOs community, please reach out to me. We are here to serve.

Scot McRoberts
Executive Director
Virginia Council of CEOs





About the 2020 VACEOs Retreat
April 29 – May 1, 2020
The Omni Homestead


This event, for VACEOs Members and Sponsors only, is designed to inspire attendees to take their businesses to the next level. During the event attendees have access to:

  • Intensive deep-dives into relevant topics of the day,
  • Equal proportions of keynote speakers mixed with peer-to-peer learning and breakout sessions,
  • Opportunities to recharge during planned breaks and social events, and
  • Four-star amenities found within the resort.

Often described as “worth the price of membership” admission into the Annual VACEOs Retreat is automatic, once you become a Virginia Council of CEOs Member.

(Update March 17, 2020: This event has been canceled due to COVID-19)

  • Schedule of events
  • Register for this event (This event has been canceled due to COVID-19)
  • Keynote speaker lineup
  • Workshop speaker lineup
  • Retreat FAQs


VA Council of CEOs Annual CEO Retreat
Set for April 29-May 1, 2020

Room and spa registration now open



We are pleased to announce that we will return to the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, VA to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Virginia Council of CEOs. There are lots of group activities planned for Wednesday (information and Retreat registration coming soon), so plan to arrive early.



  1. Reserve your room by April 8, 2020. Call 800-838-1766.
  2. We recommend you book your spa treatment ASAP. Don’t forget to ask for the special VACEOs CEO Retreat discount.


Posted by Staff at 5:24 pm
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Streamline Your Communications While Ramping Up Productivity

Ari Meisel, founder of Less Doing, shares his thoughts on productivity, including how to decrease email inbox clutter and more with Retreat 2019 attendees.

“Less Doing” was the theme of this year’s VACEOs Retreat, and there’s no better expert on the subject than Ari Meisel. The founder of Less Doing, Meisel is a self-described “overwhelmologist” who helps entrepreneurs find focus, flexibility and freedom in their work. His methodology enables founders to become replaceable so they can scale their business.

During his workshop at this year’s Retreat, he asked the audience, “What are some of your biggest productivity challenges?” No surprise: Many members in the audience reported managing email as problematic.

Here are a few email tips we gathered from Ari’s presentation. What techniques do you use to manage your inbox? Leave us a comment. We’d love to hear about them!


4 Ways To Streamline Your Communications While Ramping Up Productivity*

TIP #1:  Don’t use email for internal communications

“Email is a transactional communication,” says Ari. “Internal conversations tend to be exactly that – conversations, brainstorming, ideas, arguments. That’s why, when people try to use email, we get the 20 BCCs and forwards. It’s just not designed for it. People don’t use email very well to begin with. Using it for internal communication is terrible.”

To maximize our productivity, we need to stop unnecessary email from getting into our inbox in the first place. The best way to do that is by not using email for things we’re not supposed to use it for, says Ari. He suggests using at least four communication tools for different internal communications needs.

TIP #2:  Use these tools (or similar ones) to streamline your internal communications

There’s a tool for every job, and Ari suggests you have these four, at minimum, in your toolbox:

  1. A tool for conversation (he recommends VOXER) 
  2. A tool for procedural communication (think SLACK)
  3. A bridge between internal and external communications
  4. A project management tool

For daily check-ins and conversations, Ari is a big fan of Voxer. “Every morning in our company, at 8:00 a.m., there’s a message that pops up in our Voxer group, and it says, ‘Hey team, time to check in. What are you going to work on today, and what’s your biggest obstacle?’”

Ari also suggests a tool like SLACK. Use it for conversations that aren’t brainstorming and not really conversational. Use it to share things people need to know. Ex: “Hey everybody, make sure to respond to our recent Facebook post.”

The third tool is one that bridges the gap between internal and external communications. Ari suggests ones like Intercom, Freshdesk and Help Scout.

Lastly, you need a place where things get done. That’s important, because once you’ve decided something needs to get done, it needs to be removed from the communication stream and put into a project management space – a place where things get accomplished. “Trello is my choice for project management,“ says Ari.

TIP #3:  Inbox + Archive Folder + Optional Folder = All You Need

So you’ve got your communication tools in place to help with internal communications. Great! But, of course, you can’t stop the emails from coming in. Your productivity will soar if you learn how to streamline your sorting process when they do. First step? Make a dramatic change to your folder structure.

According to Ari, you only need two folders: Archive and Optional. “The inbox is the place where work should happen. That’s the Zen place. Then there’s the Archive in Outlook and Gmail, which is not garbage. It’s not deleted, it’s not gone – it’s just not in inbox. Everything else goes there. You need one other folder the Optional folder.

TIP #4:  Use a Filter (or Rule) to Optimize Your Optional Folder

To keep your email streamlined and your energy focused on the essential, it’s vital that you create an automatic method to filter messages to your Optional folder.

“In Gmail, it’s called a filter,” says Ari. “In Apple, it’s called a rule. It’s a very simple rule. It says that if an email enters your inbox and has the word ‘unsubscribe’ in it, it should skip your inbox and go right into the Optional folder. That usually takes care of about 62% of the emails that come into your inbox.”

“I know some of you are thinking, ‘But there’s that newsletter I love reading!’ which is fine,” Ari says. “It’s going to be there in the Optional folder. And you get into a habit, because our brains are not quite there with the technology, when you click on the Optional folder – which you might do once a day, or maybe once a week – and you’re now in “optional” mode. You know there’s nothing essential in there, so you can go through those Facebook updates, newsletters, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll read that,’ much faster. It’s a stress-free environment, and the inbox gets filtered for you.”

Ok, most of our messages have been filtered and moved. But we’ve still got messages in our inbox. Now what?

Utilize one of the three Ds in Ari’s decision matrix: Delete, Deal With It, or Defer.

Delete: Ask yourself, “Do I really need to respond?” “Something like 42% of the emails we reply to don’t require a response,” Ari explains. “If you’ve ever found yourself sending an email that says, ‘Got it’ or ‘Hey, thanks,’ don’t do that. There’s a boomerang effect in email: The more you send out, the more you get. We can get better about saying no. And sometimes ‘no’ is just you see it and you don’t respond to it.”

Deal With It: The second decision is deal with it. “Dealing with it could include a little Subset D, which is to delegate it,” say Ari. “If you can deal with something right now – like within the next three minutes – deal with it right now. I don’t know where we got this concept that something’s going to magically change three minutes later.”

Defer: (not to be confused with procrastination): Deferring is making an active decision and deciding that there’s a better time to do some things. “If you look at deferring as a way to decide that there’s a better time and place that you’re going to do things, it becomes really empowering for you,” Ari reveals.

Start using this decision-making matrix each day and watch your productivity soar!

*Source: Ari Meisel Workshop, VACEOs Retreat 2019

Posted by Staff at 4:17 pm
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Business Growth by Vivid Vision: Cameron Herold at Retreat 2019

Cameron Herold, international speaker and author of Double Double and Meetings Suck, teaches Retreat 2019 attendees actionable, practical things to take their businesses to the next level of growth.

Cameron Herold is the mastermind behind hundreds of companies’ exponential expansion, and he’s rightfully earned a reputation as a growth guru by guiding his clients to double their profit and their revenue in just three years or less.

During VACEOs Retreat 2019, Herold taught attendees actionable, practical tactics for taking their business to the next level. More specifically, he explained how to build a culture, how to define your big hairy audacious goal (BHAG), and how to leverage a second in command. His most important message: Growth won’t happen unless you define your vision first.

Kelley Powell, CEO of MacLaurin Group, has already taken Herold’s words to heart. She netted an extra hour with Herold after submitting the top wager in a friendly bidding war that raised funds for an amazing cause, the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation. She’s recently spent her time working with Herold on her company’s Vivid Vision.

“Our time was incredibly meaningful…”

“I am humbled and appreciative that Cameron Herold is a part of MacLaurin Group’s journey,” said Powell. “For those who know Kelley Powell best, you will not be surprised to hear Cameron had me at ‘Goals. Measurements. Outcomes.’ Data always tells the true story. The only way to reach a Vivid Vision is to know you are on pace to get there,” she says.

“How you reach your destination of a Vivid Vision? Simply, focus,” Powell adds. She suggests you start as she did, by purchasing Cameron’s recent book, Meetings Suck for everyone on your team.

How to Create the Vision: Get Out of Your Box. Visualize and Define.

Ever think to yourself, “I wish my employees were as intuitive as I am”? If you’re like most CEOs, you have. “We’ve all said it,” said Herold at the VACEOs Retreat 2019. “The only reason you’re so intuitive is that you see the picture no one else can see. If they could see what you can see, they would be just as intuitive.”

So how do you get them to see what you can see? Create a Vivid Vision.

“The first step is you’ve got to get out of the box,” Herold told the VACEOs Retreat 2019 crowd. “You have to go, get out of the box, get out of your office, and go somewhere around nature – somewhere where you can get inspired. Pretend you’re flying in a time machine and you leave today and you arrive in the future to December 31, 2021, and I want you to look around your company, and I want you to describe what you see as if you’re standing in your company and you’re describing what you see.”

Herold’s approach includes capturing three or four bullet points about:

  • What customers are saying;
  • What employees are saying; and
  • What the media is writing about you.

Then move on to what your suppliers are saying, what your banker is saying, what your accountant is saying … your lawyer. Describe meetings, customer service, marketing, operations, IT, engineering and finance.

“Don’t worry about how these things are going to happen,” Herold explained. “Just describe what it feels like and then start pulling together your first rough draft. Your job as the CEO is to only pull together the first rough draft. A rough Word document – three or four pages of a Word document.”

Next, pass off your rough draft to a writer to capture it in such a way that it becomes a magnet and pulls people toward your business. Later, add some design elements to it to make it feel more like your brand.

Your Vivid Vision should attract AND repel those who take it in. “You have to be willing to push people away,” said Herold. “The alignment around vision is where culture starts. The media talking about the massages, the free bicycles, all the lunches – that’s not culture. That stuff comes way later. Culture starts with alignment on vision and getting a good employee in the same direction. Our role as CEO is to be the Chief Energizing Officer and communicate vision – and to bring in the people who buy into it.”

Learn More About Kelley Powell’s Vivid Vision Journey

About the overall experience with Cameron she tells us: “With a shared spirit of investing in others, our time was incredibly meaningful knowing together we contributed to the beacon of hope for those affected by teenage mental illness, the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation. I have personally signed up to run the 5k in the fall. I encourage each of you reading to do so as well. Special thank you to Cameron and to the team at Virginia Council of CEO’s for creating truly meaningful connections.”

Want to hear more about Kelley Powell’s journey with Cameron Herold? Cameron will be joining Kelley on the MacLaurin Group’s “Demystifying Technology” podcast soon. (Subscribe here:

Thanks for sharing your experience with us Kelley!

“Worth the Price of Membership”

We often hear that the VACEOs Annual Retreat is “worth the price of membership alone,” and it’s no wonder: It’s a three-day event filled with opportunities to learn from national thought leaders, participate in CEO workshops and network. But there are many other reasons to become a member of the Virginia Council of CEOs. Learn more about the benefits of membership.

Posted by Staff at 12:41 pm