Follow the Leaders
Last year at this time, I asked the members in my peer roundtable “What are your professional development plans for next year?” I was shocked when two of these CEOs said that they had done all that stuff, that they were within 5 years of exiting, and that they really didn’t see a need for it. It seemed like they had decided to just coast to the finish line of their careers.
Maybe when I am closer to retirement, I will have that attitude, but I hope not. I believe that there is unlimited potential for growth, and that if I am to be the leader my organization needs and deserves, I need to work on myself continually.
I think I am a pretty good CEO. So, what’s wrong with being the same kind of CEO again next year? Well, are my competitors sitting still or getting better? Is the pace of change in business and society slowing down? I don’t think so. If I am to lead my business to compete and thrive amidst rapid change and the unexpected (pandemic, anyone?) I must continue to learn and grow.
So I encourage you, my fellow CEOs, to make a decision about how you will grow as a leader in 2021. The options are endless. You could take a class, join a book club, retain a coach, or join a peer roundtable.
Be a better CEO in 2021. Make a decision now on how you will learn and grow.
About the Author
Scot McRoberts is the executive director of the VA Council of CEOs (VACEOs). One of the original co-founders, he has led the organization’s growth from 20 members in 2000 to more than 200 today. Utilizing a best practice model for the Council’s CEO roundtables and a dogged focus on its core purpose of connecting CEOs for the purpose of sharing experiences, McRoberts has developed an association that boasts 90% retention. Before coming to VACEOs, Scot was a senior executive at the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, where he led business councils, small business programs, and business retention efforts.
The Virginia Council of CEOs announced today that Keith Hartman has joined the staff as Regional Executive for Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs). Hartman’s main responsibility will be to assist with the nonprofit’s Commonwealth-wide focus on membership representation and growth.
“We are fortunate to add Keith to our team,” says Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, VA Council of CEOs. Adding, “He is a strong believer in the power of peer roundtables, and he understands the challenges that small business CEOs face. He will be a tremendous help as we strive to serve more small business CEOs throughout Virginia.”
Hartman has over five years of experience developing and supporting peer-to-peer roundtables and forums for Vistage Worldwide, the international leader in peer advisory groups and personal leadership development for CEOs and senior leaders. He has experienced first-hand the transformational impact that the sharing of challenges, opportunities, and experiences with trusted peers in a confidential environment can have, and is looking forward to helping the Council expand this concept to all corners of the Commonwealth.
Says Hartman, “Ben Franklin formed quite possibly the first peer group in this country in 1727. He called it the Junto Club. It had 12 members, met weekly, and lasted for 38 years. Napoleon Hill wrote of the power of peer groups as early as 1937. Still today, however, a relatively small percentage of CEOs and business owners have benefited from membership in a peer group, and I am thrilled to be associated with the Virginia Council of CEOs as we take our unique approach to the peer group concept statewide. Our combination of membership impact, benefits, accessibility, and reach are uniquely served to bring the power of peer roundtables to CEOs and business owners throughout all corners of the commonwealth.”
In addition to work for Vistage Worldwide, Hartman has over 30 years of experience in leadership positions with small businesses as well as public and private equity-owned organizations. One of the common threads of his career has been interaction with CEOs, presidents, business owners, and entrepreneurs, from a variety of different perspectives. He was most recently the Director of the Roanoke Region Small Business Development Center, where he worked with aspiring entrepreneurs and owners of existing businesses in an eight-county area of southwest Virginia, helping them with issues encountered throughout the life cycle of a business. A key component of his role was establishing and enhancing relationships with stakeholders and investment partners.
Hartman earned a BA from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and has completed a variety of sales, management, and professional improvement programs. His volunteer work includes serving on the board of the Botetourt County Chamber of Commerce, where he is currently the Interim Executive Director as well. He also represents VACEOs as a member of both the Botetourt County and the Roanoke Regional Chambers of Commerce.
Virginia Council of CEOs is a nonprofit organization connecting CEOs for learning and growth. Formed more than 20 years ago, Member benefits include placement in a peer roundtable group and access to a thought leader network and a robust program of events for learning and growth. This is not a networking group, but rather a group of CEO peers who are invested in the success of each Member. Learn more at www.vaceos.org.
As 2021 rapidly approaches, I wanted to share again our approach to the year. While we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, I am buoyed by the latest vaccine news, which to my reading indicates that vaccines will be available for most people by June.
As always, Roundtables and Forums come first. We have increased support, training, and leader training for these groups. Our recruiting of great CEOs has not stopped and we will have a steady stream of new members to fill seats in your groups.
Your board has instructed staff to continue to produce high-impact programs and connections — virtually for now — and to pivot back to in-person events when permissible and safe. Here are the highlights of what we have planned so far.
I look forward to a dynamic year and to emerging stronger on the other side.
Forward!Scot McRoberts Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
“The biggest challenge for those CEOs is the lonely-at-the-top phenomenon, where these folks really find themselves alone with these struggles a lot of the time,” VACEOs Executive Director Scot McRoberts tells Lake, adding: “In smaller businesses you don’t have a lot of executive teams around you. There’s just a lot of pressure on a small business CEO.”
Lake reveals how the Pandemic-necessitated virtual meetings spurred council expansion. Included in the article are quotes from several VACEOs Members, including Arlene Lee, CEO of Charlottesville-based R.E. Lee Company.
“For many CEOs I know, the relationships with other CEOs is what has carried us through the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficult decisions and pivots we have had to make. The relationships grown through the council are deep, connected and meaningful in a way that is often missing in our greater world.” – Arlene Lee, CEO, R.E. Lee Company
Read entire coverage of “Va. Council of CEOs to expand statewide. Pandemic-necessitated virtual meetings spurred council expansion” by VA Business Magazine.
(Read Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage: “Virginia Council of CEOs opens up to membership to top executives across the state”)
Richmond, Virginia: The Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs), a nonprofit association serving more than 200 small and mid-sized business owners, announced today that is expanding its geography outside of Central Virginia and throughout the state, welcome news for many CEOs who run a small and mid-sized business in Virginia who seek the benefits of a CEO advisory group (peer roundtable).
VACEOs, a 20-year old nonprofit association, is driven by its mission is to “connect CEOs for learning and growth.” The most powerful way CEOs connect within the organization is through a confidential peer roundtable group, made up of CEOs of non-competing companies ($1 million or more in revenue/5 or more full-time employees).
Before COVID, VACEOs expansion was limited due to the perceived need to form roundtables based on geography. However, during COVID the roundtables were able to expand past geographic boundaries through the use of Zoom, WebEx, and other video platforms. Two new virtual roundtables were created during COVID and their success has now led to this aggressive expansion.
“Our existing Roundtables pivoted quickly to online meetings back in March and April,” says Scot McRoberts, Executive Director, Virginia Council of CEOs. “We think CEOs are open to this efficient, effective meeting method like never before. There is an opportunity here to serve hundreds of small business CEOs who we could not reach before. By offering roundtables to more CEOs, we are delivering on our mission.”
“I’m not sure that I could have navigated as well as I did, without my roundtable.” – Sam Stone, CEO, Stone’s Office Supply
Sam Stone, CEO of Stone’s Office Supply, is a long-time member of VA Council. Says, “We went from meeting in person, to immediately switching to Zoom meetings to cover some of the most difficult topics that I’ve had to cover in my time as a CEO. I’m not sure that I could have navigated as well as I did, without my roundtable.”
Connie Hom, CEO of Buckingham Greenery, says, “This has been a fast-paced, changing environment. There are decisions as a CEO in regard to labor, clients and revenue, and the shared experiences have been very helpful. The virtual roundtable has truly been a breath of fresh air, and the Council membership has proven to be, for me, a port in the storm.”
To fuel its growth and for a limited time only, VACEOs is offering a complimentary, two-hour confidential peer roundtable experience with a trained facilitator. After that one-time experience, CEOs can join the organization and be placed in a new roundtable while accessing other Member benefits, including online training and informational sessions, learning programs, social events, and the return to in-person meetings and retreats. Learn more: https://vaceos.org/ceo-roundtables