Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2016 VACEOs Retreat CliffsNotes

This year’s CEO Retreat was a huge success! “CEO Essentials” was the theme, and we’ve got a few short and sweet nuggets here to jog your memory, should you find yourself lost in (ahem) “urgent” matters. Bookmark this page and return to it often. If you care to relive some of the fun, take a look at our Retreat Sights and Sounds video.



BRIAN MORAN: “The 12 Week Year”
When you think of Brian’s presentation, think blue poker chips. He gave us tools to develop clarity and focus – and a healthy sense of urgency. When you shift to a 12-week year, everything changes. And you’re sure to discover what matters most.


Nuggets from this presentation:
• Develop a repertoire of “gracious no’s” for non-essential requests.
• The moment you decide what matters most (i.e., what you need to do) will be one of your Greatest Moments.
• Move through the plan one week at a time. Peer support is important. You will quickly succeed or fail. Refine your plan. Repeat.
• Learn more here.



ROBERTA OSTER SACHS: “Enhance Your Executive Presence: Tools to Fuel Your Confidence and Impact”
When you’re getting ready for a big sales pitch, think about Roberta’s presentation. This Emmy Award-winning journalist and leadership trainer taught us about the science behind “Power Posing” and gave us mindfulness tools to enhance our productivity and health.


Nuggets from this presentation:
• Executive Presence Pillars:
1. Gravitas (ability to recognize others’ emotions)
2. Communication (*listening* skills)
3. Appearance (physical health)
• Feeling stressed or not confident. Practice your best power pose!
• Meditation matters. And mindfulness makes you smarter.
• Learn more here.



GREG MCKEOWN: “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”
Need inspiration to de-clutter your life? Think about Greg. This superbly hilarious professional from across the pond is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author and founder and CEO of THIS Inc. He gave us the inspiration to pursue less to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy. Or said another way, to pursue a closet filled only with joy. “Can we get a snap?!”


Nuggets from this presentation:
• Your job as CEO is to protect your ability to prioritize.
• Become more of who you REALLY are. Eliminate the non-essentials.
• Remember: It’s either “HELL, YES!” or “No.”
• Becoming an Essentialist begins with small wins.
• Learn more here.



JONAH BERGER: “Crafting Contagious”
This fast-talking New York Times best-selling author and Wharton professor showed us the science behind content that goes viral. He shared just enough data and secrets to entice us to devour his book. Genius approach, wouldn’t you say?


Nuggets from this presentation:
• Remember these three stories:
1. Secret entrance into bar / social currency
2. Blender video / inner remarkability
3. “Never say no to a panda” / story content that carries a message
• There’s power behind peanut butter and jelly. Find your trigger.
• Your homework: Read your free copy of Contagious by Jonah Berger.



Posted by Staff at 6:24 pm
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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Avoiding the Bermuda Triangle with Entrepreneur Avrum Elmakis


It was like a casual chat with a friend. CEO to CEO. Only he happens to run a $40 million company that in all likelihood will double its size in the next several years.

The Virginia Council of CEOs is all about quality knowledge sharing, and we weren’t disappointed as Avrum Elmakis took the stage during our recent Quarterly Luncheon.

Avrum Elmakis, CEO of TDBBS, LLC, is a self-proclaimed “business addict,” award-winning entrepreneur, strategic investor, innovator and trusted business consultant.

“Every person I meet wants to be an entrepreneur, “ said Elmakis to the large group. “We all know what it takes to do that. It takes a lot of passion and drive and risk – all those things that define who we are as entrepreneurs. That’s our first move into risk-taking. Then we become comfortable and we want to keep what we have. We become content.”

Elmakis’ advice is to join him in the world of the discontented.

Avoiding the Bermuda Triangle

Elmakis likens business contentment to the Bermuda Triangle – a place where business owners get comfortable generating a certain kind of volume and revenue. We get wrapped up in staying lean and small, and we don’t make the kinds of investments required to become a more formal organization. We hover instead of pivoting to the next revenue tier. We don’t allow our employees to take on responsibility. Our decision-making ability is paralyzed.

Sound familiar?

So how did Best Bully Sticks avoid the Triangle? “For me, an important moment was when I recognized early on the powerful concept of surrounding yourself with real quality people who are way more advanced than what you need. I started doing that in 2013, and it allowed us to fuel our growth early and break through. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of ‘I could hire this person, but the cost is too great for me.’”

A few other things we learned from Elmakis:

• A peer network is critical for an entrepreneur.
• The timing is never right. Don’t wait. Stretch yourself.
• Remember to check your company’s horizon often. Are you honoring your original intention?
• Always be able to separate emotional attachment to your business from good decision-making.
• The attraction to the excitement of a young company, the building of a team, the passion of an entrepreneur – these are things that should not be taken lightly when recruiting top talent.

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 2:48 am
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What’s On Our Minds? Stinky Culture.

“If you have a bum culture, you can almost smell it.”

THINK ABOUT IT. This sentiment, expressed by Tom Laughon, co-founder of Catch Your Limit, sure rings true.

TomL-SidebarThe good news, as we learned during his recent Knowledge Network presentation, is that it’s relatively easy to get rid of the stench. It begins with getting the right people on the bus and building a culture around trust.

“The most strategic decisions a CEO should make are focused on people – checking who is on the bus and in the right seats, growing and retaining great talent and pruning all others. Where you’re going is for naught if you don’t have the right people to get you there.”

Sometimes it’s just plain nice to see a best practice in action, and that’s what Tom gave us. How do we connect with that passionate yet disparaged employee we saw on the video – the one who openly shared her concern for the business and wanted to do more to help it grow?

You have to be brave enough to hear what she has to say – all the good, the bad and the ugly about your business. You must simply listen and collectively think of ways to make a change. Then, “amazing conversations will result,“ Laughon promises us.

Remember: This is a “we” game. Listen. Get your employees involved. And witness a change.


* This “What’s On Our Minds” moment is from the VACEOs Knowledge Network Luncheon “The Company You Keep: Keys to Attracting, Growing & Retaining Talent,” presented by Tom Laughon, co-founder, Catch Your Limit Consulting.

Posted by Scot McRoberts at 3:08 pm
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

3 Things Every CEO Needs

three things vaceos.org cA few weeks ago I had the pleasure of having lunch with Jonathan B. Smith, an entrepreneur, author and Certified EOS Implementer. We talked about the challenges faced by small business owners, and what to do when you hit the ceiling on growth.


You should read Jonathan’s great little book Optimize For Growth, but here’s the quick and dirty. He says that you need just three things to get unstuck and take your business to the next level.


1. A business operating system. EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) is a very good one. There are others. Without an operating system, everything revolves around the CEO, and/or in silos around the business. An operating system allows a business owner to build the strategy and infrastructure that is necessary to scale a business in a unified, repeatable, focused manner.



2. A peer advisory group. Jonathan was member of Entrepreneur’s Organization when he was a CEO. The VA Council of CEOs, which I lead, is similar to EO. Running a growing business is a lonely job. There are often issues that you cannot talk about with your employees, your banker or your spouse. A group of CEOs of similar sized businesses gives you a place to go with concerns about employees, growth plans and other things that keep you awake at night. Surrounded by peers you trust, you can learn faster, make better decisions and grow as a leader.


3. A business coach. All top performers have coaches, and you should too. You have got to have someone who holds you accountable for doing hard stuff, and for growing as a leader. The best coaches ask important questions at the right time, illuminate stuff that you would rather not address, and stretch your vision.


That’s it. Just three things. Now, get to work growing your business!


Scot McRoberts is Executive Director of the Virginia Council of CEOs. He also published this article on Linkedin.


Posted by Scot McRoberts at 7:21 pm
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