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March 9, 2022

Leo Popik On The Competitive Advantage Of A CEO Peer Group (#106)

Leo Popik On The Competitive Advantage Of A CEO Peer Group (#106)

"There are things that are much more important than how much money you make or how powerful you become" - Leo Popik.
Leo Popik is a CEO advisor, mentor, coach, and board facilitator. He is the founder and CEO of Leading Peers, the premier empowerment com...


"There are things that are much more important than how much money you make or how powerful you become" - Leo Popik.

Leo Popik is a CEO advisor, mentor, coach, and board facilitator. He is the founder and CEO of Leading Peers, the premier empowerment community for CEOs. Leading Peers, helps CEOs become better leaders, live out their values, and achieve improved business results.

Leading Peers provides coaching content and connections to its members and is the support and accountability community for a growing number of CEOs. Before creating Leading Peers. Leo had a 20-year career as the founder and CEO of a company in corporate travel and events.

Leo has a master's degree from Harvard University in International Political Economy has published several books and articles. And leads Leading Peers' expert training program and learning center.

Please enjoy!

 

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SELECTED LINKS FOR THIS EPISODE

Leo’s email lp[at]leadingpeers[dot]com

Leading Peers website

The Deep Wealth Experience

FREE Deep Wealth eBook on Why You Suck At Selling Your Business And What You Can Do About It (Today)

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Please leave a review. Reviews help me reach new listeners, grow the show, and continue to create content that you'll enjoy.

Please click here to leave a review on The Sell My Business Podcast.

 

This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth. 

Your liquidity event is the most important financial transaction of your life. You have one chance to get it right, and you better make it count. 

But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time, money and effort wasted. Of the "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave 50% to over 100% of their deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

Our founders said "no" to a 7-figure offer and "yes" to a 9-figure offer less than two years later. 

Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing that the skills that built your business are the same ones for your liquidity event. 

After all, how can you master something you've never done before? 

Are you leaving millions on the table? 

Learn how the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and our 9-step roadmap helps you capture the maximum value for your liquidity event.  

Click here to book your free exploratory strategy session.

Enjoy the interview!

Deep Wealth LINKS FOR THIS EPISODE

The Deep Wealth Experience

FREE Deep Wealth eBook on Why You Suck At Selling Your Business And What You Can Do About It (Today)

Book Your FREE Deep Wealth Strategy Call

 

Did you enjoy this episode of The Sell My Business Podcast? 

Please leave a review. Reviews help me reach new listeners, grow the show, and continue to create content that you'll enjoy.

Please click here to leave a review on The Sell My Business Podcast.

 

This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth. 

Your liquidity event is the most important financial transaction of your life. You have one chance to get it right, and you better make it count. 

But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time, money and effort wasted. Of the "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave 50% to over 100% of their deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

Our founders said "no" to a 7-figure offer and "yes" to a 9-figure offer less than two years later. 

Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing that the skills that built your business are the same ones for your liquidity event. 

After all, how can you master something you've never done before? 

Are you leaving millions on the table? 

Learn how the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and our 9-step roadmap helps you capture the maximum value for your liquidity event.  

Click here to book your free exploratory strategy session.

Enjoy the interview!

Transcript

[00:00] Introduction Welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast. I'm your host Jeffrey Feldberg. 

This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth and the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience. 

Your liquidity event is the largest and most important financial transaction of your life. 

But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time, money and effort wasted. Of the "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave anywhere from 50% to over 100% of their deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

I should know. I said no to a seven-figure offer and yes, to mastering the art and science of a liquidity event. Two years later, I said yes to a different buyer with a nine-figure offer. 

Are you thinking about an exit or liquidity event? 

If you believe that you either don't have the time or you'll prepare closer to your liquidity event, think again. 

Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing that the skills that built your business are the same ones for your liquidity event. 

After all, how can you master something you've never done before? 

Let the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and our nine-step roadmap of preparation help you capture the maximum value for your liquidity event. 

At the end of this episode, take a moment to hear from business owners, just like you, who went through the Deep Wealth Experience. 

[00:01:44] Jeffrey Feldberg: Leo Popik is a CEO advisor, mentor, coach, and board facilitator. He is the founder and CEO of Leading Peers, the premier empowerment community for CEOs. Leading Peers, helps CEOs become better leaders, live out their values, and achieve improved business results.

Leading Peers provides coaching content and connections to its members and is the support and accountability community for a growing number of CEOs. Before creating Leading Peers. Leo had a 20-year career as the founder and CEO of a company in corporate travel and events.

Leo has a master's degree from Harvard University in International Political Economy has published several books and articles. And leads Leading Peers' expert training program and learning center.

Welcome to The Sell My Business Podcast. And I have a question for all of our listeners out there. And the question is, who do you think is the most valuable person, the most valuable advisor person in the world who can take you from where you are today from here to over there?

And if you're wondering, all you have to do is look in the mirror, it's you, but for many business owners, the question is, well where do I begin? and what do I do? How do I even start? And that's what we're going to be covering today with our guest. Leo welcome to The Sell My Business Podcast, really excited for the information that you're going to be sharing with us of how our audience can get the absolute most out of themselves, not only in business but also in every area of their lives.

But Leo, there's always a story behind the story. And I'm curious, what's your story? What got you from where you were to where you are today?

[00:03:24] Leo Popik: Jeffrey. Thanks for having me a pleasure to be with you here. My story is a very odd story, born in Brazil, came to the States after living in Argentina, where my parents were from. I was 10. I lived in the Midwest, outside St. Louis. At the age of 15, I went back to Buenos Aires. I did college in Argentina, came to the states to get my master's degree at Harvard University.

And then from the ivory tower back to the emerging country of Argentina to get involved in the public sector in politics and the public policy world. And I was very involved with trying to change the world and non-profits and government stuff until I was about 30. When I hit 30, I had like my first big life crisis.

What am I doing? Things were not taking off for me on starting a family, financially. And I said, this is a very idealistic life, but it's not really as fulfilling as I thought it would be. And I decided to start a business and I'd been very entrepreneurial, just not in business. I started a political party.

I started non-profits. So, for people out there who are community organizers or politically driven, I'm your guy who then became a business entrepreneur, and I didn't really have a plan to become a business entrepreneur. I thought I would end up at the United Nations or in my country's government.

I didn't even think I'd end up living in the states. And now I'm happily living in the United States and plan to stay here, indefinitely. Very different kind of character in how I ended up doing what I do, but I started a city tour business and I thought this was going to be a side hustle to be able to make a little bit of money.

I was naive to think that a business venture can be a side hustle for a startup entrepreneur first-time startup entrepreneur. And before I knew it, that business had burned cash for six months was about to go out of existence. Had not fulfilled my goals for it. And I realized it was sucking me in more and more for it to work.

And then eventually I was all in and it started to work and that's how I became a business entrepreneur. Fast forward, 18 years, I'm now 48. This is my current business that I'm focused on building is the fourth one I've built. I've been dedicated to it for the last year and a half.

And I love business entrepreneurship. I have found a way to make it a passion of mine by aligning with the change I wanted to make in the world through what I was doing before in all of this community, nonprofit and governmental stuff. But with the added benefit of business entrepreneurship and the wealth that it can create, the freedom, it can create, the opportunity for innovation and self-responsibility, and for merit to be the guiding force of your results.

In short how this little baby in Brazil, I ended up being an entrepreneur in America today and loving his fourth venture and everything I've learned over my past 18 years as a business entrepreneur.

[00:06:16] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, Leo that's interesting. And perhaps I should have started off the conversation with Ola Leo, cómo estás.

[00:06:22] Leo Popik: And Muy bien, Jeffrey.

[00:06:24] Jeffrey Feldberg: That's where I would have got into trouble because that's about it for my Spanish and I know enough to be dangerous. So, Leo, you're an entrepreneur through and through four businesses later, here you are. And you started Leading Peers at a CEO peer group, and you really could have done anything.

So, why do this, of all the things that you could have done? What had you said? Yes, I'm going to throw my hat in the ring, but this time I'm going to be helping other entrepreneurs, founders, business owners. What's that all about?

[00:06:51] Leo Popik: Yeah, it's a great question. So, let's backtrack, 18 months, the pandemic had started in March, and here we are in May and I'm feeling the pain of the pandemic. My third business had been my biggest business ever. It had reached eight-digit revenue figures.

I had been completely enthralled by the growth and all the challenges that I've had. I had built a company in 10 different countries. I had full-time employees in all 10 different countries and all of a sudden the pandemic comes around and it doesn't just affect my business. It basically sidelines my business entirely.

My business was in international corporate events, so we all know travel and hospitality got hammered by the pandemic. But nobody got more hammered within the travel industry that those of us that were doing international, in-person, corporate events, it was done. It was a hundred percent disappeared.

And here I was thinking, ah, I hadn't planned for this. I didn't exit my business before this. I didn't know this pandemic was going to dry up 100% of my revenue. What do I do? And it dawned on me. I have to start something different in a different industry. I'm not going to sit around just hoping this pandemic works its way through the system quickly and effectively.

I'm not going to wait for the vaccine. I'm not gonna wait for what the vaccine does for people. So, I start to think, what is the next chapter of my life? What is the silver lining for me of what, for many people in my industry was a dead-end, bankruptcy or retirement? What was the silver lining for me?

And I realized that the silver lining was that for some time I was starting to feel a little bit of a disconnect between my passion in life and what my business did. My business did events for large corporations. And when I was planning those events, when the business was small, I had the enjoyment of being out there, like if it was in the Olympics, I had the enjoyment of being there at the big event with the corporate client.

Now that the business was happening in all of these countries and events were happening and I wasn't there, I didn't really feel it anymore. It wasn't doing it for me. And so I realized my big opportunity here is to identify what does it for me in terms of my passion?

We talk about the three big circles that you really need to think about to start the business, which is where is your passion? What are you great at? And what is there a market need for that's going to drive your economic engine? And when you find that intersection of those three circles, you know, that's what Jim Collins calls the Hedgehog Concept.

That's where you need to be to start a business, in that intersection. And so I went back to the drawing board and did that exercise. What am I passionate about? What is there a market need for? And what am I the best at, or can be one of the best at out there? And I really did the work. I went to a park, my wife came with me.

She knows me. She's a life coach and a business coach. And she drilled me like what are you passionate about? If money was no object if you could do anything you want right now for the rest of your life, what would you do? And it took me in directions which I didn't even imagine possible.

Like I started saying things like, oh, I'd love to talk to the youth about their future and how to build a great life and how to take ownership over their decisions and how to prioritize things that are really gonna make a difference for others and serve the community. And that was just one example of the types of things that came out of my mouth.

And so I started thinking, oh, maybe I should be a public speaker. Maybe I should go and give talks around schools and all these ideas started coming out about how I wanted to help leaders and how I wanted to help people through their personal growth journey and their professional growth journey. And I started to realize, huh, none of this had really been there in my prior business. So, whatever I do next, I've got to bring all of this into the business, and then it's going to really make my heart sing. I will still focus on the other two circles, being the best or one of the best at that game. And there being a market need.

Because I live in the real world and I want real results. I want to drive income for myself and my family. I want to build a valuable business. But this element, which was the passion, I need to bring it back into my life. I want to wake up being happy about what I have to go to work and do. I want to look forward to that.

So, Jeffrey, in a nutshell, I realized, as I was thinking about that, that I wanted to work with leaders and people who are already entrepreneurial in nature, but that wanted to reach that next level in their life. Wanted to achieve things that they knew they were capable of, but they hadn't reached yet.

People who created opportunity for others. And I realized if I stay in the lane of entrepreneurs, which is a tribe that I know because I've been a member of that tribe, and I know what it feels like. I can really make a difference in those people's lives and because they are touching so many other lives, that's going to make me feel a huge sense of fulfillment that I'm serving the community because I'm helping to inspire and give direction and better results to the people who are creating jobs. The people who are innovating, creating new products and services, who are serving clients, serving their families, and so many others in the community, becoming community leaders. And that's how I ended up with Leading Peers. I did focus in my response to what I just told you, Jeffrey, on the passion element, we can then go a little bit more into why I thought there was a need in the market for Leading Peers and why I thought I could be among the best at doing that, but that was really what made me say I have to start this new venture. And even if the pandemic ends, I'm not going to go back to doing what I did before, full-time. So, just so you know, I didn't sell the prior business, but I have somebody else running it and I have exited without exiting so that I'm really just focused on my new venture, a hundred percent.

[00:13:11] Jeffrey Feldberg: We'll try to make lemonade out of lemons, as the saying goes. Your former business is now running without you. Congratulations, Leo. I mean, we talk a lot about that at Deep Wealth and the 9-step roadmap of preparation. But you asked the question that I was thinking, and I'm sure our audience is thinking. Let's take a step back for a second.

So, you had some real heavy lifting, the pandemic just upended life as you knew it, and you really could have done anything, but you chose this vocation and I'm with you because as business owners, hey, we make the world go round. We are the ones that are solving these painful problems, taking people's pain away, and just making life that much better.

What did you see Leo as business owners who already have a lot of choices for CEO peer groups? What did you see that wasn't being done where Leading Peers could make that difference?

[00:14:03] Leo Popik: Yeah, no, it's a great question, Jeffrey. And essentially what I realize is there are three big groups out there in the country which are YPO, the Young President's Organization, Vistage and the Entrepreneurs Organization, EO, and what hit me when I was having these thoughts about starting a new business is I feel that Vistage is now very expensive to me because my revenue is dried up and I don't even know if I fit in anymore because I have $0 of revenue in the foreseeable future. So, I don't really feel I fit in there. I gotta go. I definitely don't fit in the YPO where you have to have eight-digit revenue and you have to be younger than 45 with that revenue.

So, EO became the only choice. And I spoke to a couple of people in EO and the conversation really didn't make me feel attracted to join for a couple of reasons. I'll say three reasons. The first one is I had to part ways with over $10,000, just to start, just to go into the first encounter with them, there was an enrollment fee I had to pay the first year upfront.

I said I'm not sure I want to do that, particularly at this point. And I realized that is the case for a lot of entrepreneurs who are looking for what do they do to grow. They'll want to maybe hire a coach and try it out for a session or two, or they want to join a space or a grouping of people without really putting too much of a commitment to try it out until they know they're in the right place.

So, I knew that barrier of entry that EO had was a turnoff for me and for a lot of people who needed this. The second thing is EO had also a very important requirement, which is to be a full member of EO you had to have at least a million dollars of revenue. Now, remember I had eight-digit revenue, but now I had zero revenue.

So, I didn't really qualify to join, despite all of my past accomplishments, having more than one business, which was at over a million, and the third and last thing is that EO way of organizing EO is a nonprofit organization. And so it really revolves around chapter get-togethers and gatherings.

And it revolves around a forum where the members facilitate the meetings themselves. And my experience as a member of Vistage was, it was crucial to have somebody who was a professional facilitator because that made everybody's time, more productive, that person insured we not only were at the right place at the right time but the time and the meeting was well kept. You know, you're guiding this conversation you and I are having, even though you let me speak more you're in command.

And so things are going to accomplish the goal because there's somebody responsible for getting us to that goal. Imagine Congress operating without there being, you know, a person responsible for the chamber, it would be a shouting match.

So, I didn't really feel that way of going about it was going to be as productive as efficient. And so I wasn't attracted by that concept. So, I realized, there wasn't anything out there in the United States, and with that, I'm saying probably in the whole world that I would want to join.

And I realized that there were millions, literally millions of people like me in the country that were small business owners or mid-sized business owners that for some reason didn't fit into any of the existing groupings. So, the market need for me was clear and evident. We had to do away with these barriers of entry.

To join, you don't have to pay an enrollment fee in Leading Peers. To join, you don't have to pay the first year in advance. And you can try it out and see if it's a good fit for you. There's no reason why you have to make this absurd commitment before you try it out to see if it's the right grouping for you.

There are so many options out there in the market that it's like, how do you pick your wife without dating other people? And so to me, you have to be able to shop around. And when people come to Leading Peers, they have that freedom to leave at any time. That said they don't leave. And that's my experience is that people who join want to stay, but they have that freedom and they're not staying because they made this big financial investment. They're staying because they want to.

And that's when you achieve personal and professional growth is when the time you're investing, you're doing it because you want to not because you feel you've got to justify this investment that you may, and you don't want to admit yourself that it was the wrong investment to make. So, in a nutshell, that's why I realized there's this huge market need for Leading Peers right now.

[00:18:32] Jeffrey Feldberg: Leo it's quite a story. And what I love about that is before you even started Leading Peers, as a business owner of a business that was really turned upside down, you're looking at okay, what's out there for me. And you just saw, I'll use the word friction, the F word, you saw a lot of friction along the way.

Hey, this doesn't work. That doesn't work. There's gotta be a better way. And from that frustration, you found the better way of what you would love for yourself. And now you said, hey if this works for me, it's going to work for other people. And you've made that available to others, which I absolutely love.

Let's take a step back for just a moment because there are people who are listening, business owners, who are saying, Leo, love your story. I get it but I've never joined a CEO peer group before. And it doesn't matter whether my business is a hundred million dollars, ten million dollars, a startup.

 I don't have the time. I don't think I really need it. I'm busy enough as it is. Can you speak to those people and in a polite way, what we're really saying is, hey, that's really not the case. You're probably wrong in that line of thinking, but Leo, from your perspective, why is it that every business owner, entrepreneur, or founder should absolutely be part of a CEO peer group and why not start with Leading Peers.

[00:19:46] Leo Popik: Yeah, I have no question. There's no question in my mind that every business owner and CEO should belong to a CEO peer group. But I want to say to that person who doesn't have the time who has never done it, that I was one of you. I went from the age of 30 to the age of 45 without joining one. So, for 15 years, I didn't.

And I knew that they existed. I read about it in books. I did try to work on myself by reading great books by great authors about how you create a great company. And a couple of those books that really had a huge impact on me talked about the importance of CEO groups. So, I was aware of that, but I said, I travel too much, I'm on the road too much.

And I can't really make that commitment or I'm planning on moving to the States I'm living in another country. So, I'll do that when I settled down. Or I worked too many hours just like you were mentioning before. When I eventually did it, I realized that it was hugely beneficial to me and to every other CEO and business owner that there is.

Now, here's why, first of all, these groups work well because you're put into a small group some organizations call it a forum, others call it a peer group or a peer board. We call it a peer board where all the other members are in different industries than yours. And this is a hugely important part of the secret sauce.

That means there is no posturing. There is no need to save face. You don't come in here to gloss over the challenges that you're having or the areas in which you feel lost. Much to the contrary, you start to realize that if you open up and you're true about what you're up against, the struggles you're having, it's when people get interested in trying to help you. When you joined the group and you see other people doing that, you realize, oh my goodness, we helped that person so much. Whereas if another member of the group, and you're new and you're watching them they talk about something not very important.

You can sense that their participation is not going to be that valuable to them. So, then you start thinking, if I want to get real value out of this, I have to really share what's really bothering me, what's really concerning me, when I'm really struggling with, where my challenges really are. And the moment you do it, there's no turning back Jeffrey.

People in the group care about you because they're human. We all have a tendency to want to help each other. We want to have an impact on others. And so just naturally to people around the group and remember, these are CEOs, so they're resourceful people. They're full of ideas. They're full of personal experiences. They're full of connections. So, they will naturally be drawn to trying to help you. And in the process to show the other people around the room, how much they've learned and how much they've gone through so that these people also value them and their participation and their input because we all, by our very nature, love to be recognized within the groupings that we are in as valuable contributors to that space, people worthy of this space that we belong to.

 So, a child and a family will want to pick up after a meal, because that's a way to show that they want to contribute. And they're a valuable member of the family.

And so in the same way, in a peer board, everybody wants to contribute. They want to show everybody else that they care about the space. And so when you start to get transformative advice and ideas and resources and connections that are brought to you by others, you're never going to be the same.

It's going to open up your mind to possibility. It's going to take you out of that feeling of loneliness that what you're going through is something you need to figure out on your own. It's going to give you a sense of comfort. Just being able to share and have people that listen is very comforting.

And that whole feeling that we're helping each other makes you feel good and connected as an entrepreneur, often you feel kind of alone, like in your own quest and it's you versus the world. And being able to build something with other people makes you feel connected with others.

And then last, when you're contributing things and making an impact on another person's life, and they tell you how much they value that impact that you're having. You feel that all of the learning that you've gone through, all the experiences you've had, are really able to help you have an impact way beyond your own business, way beyond the confines of your own life and your company stakeholders.

You can help anybody out there who is going through a similar type of experience as a business owner and leader. So, this is for every business owner and CEO, because you're only going to get this from a CEO peer group. You're not going to get this from a business coach or a mentor, and you're not going to get this from a business networking group or you're coming to sell and promote your services to other people around the group. Those things are great. A business coach don't get me wrong or a space like business networking, cause you can promote, you could generate business and referrals, but it's a completely different thing to what we're talking about.

So, if you've never tried a CEO peer group, you have to try it in order to know if this is something that's going to help you. In my experience, I've never seen a person try it and say, this wasn't helpful. I don't want to be involved with this anymore. If anything, I've seen people either fall in love with it and become members of the organizations they joined for life.

Even after they've retired, they want to continue to be associated with them or to leave to go to another organization because they've grown and they want to now find a group of peers that resembles more where they are the stage that they are at in their life. And that's absolutely okay. And in fact, we have members of Leading Peers that are members of other organizations, peer organizations, and they find value in that because it extends their network or there are things about those organizations that they value.

 They could be faith-based organizations, which ours is not. Where they could be organizations where there are a lot of social events. We don't currently do many social events. So, I can see why somebody would want to compliment their membership of Leading Peers.

If you're a CEO, you have to have one group of peers that you can come together and really open up and use your advisory board and make your contribution beyond your business, to the business community, and to the community overall through everything you've learned and acquired.

[00:26:32] Jeffrey Feldberg: Leo, that's really interesting in for our listeners. I will share with you Leo, as you're talking, I just have all kinds of memories flooding through because I've been a member of a number of different CEO, peer groups. And for all the business owners out there, CEOs, leaders, a couple of things you need to know what Leo was saying.

And for starters, anyone says that, hey, when it comes to business, I am self-made don't believe it for a moment. It doesn't exist. It doesn't happen. If you're successful it’s because it took other people that helped you become successful. And if you are successful and you didn't leverage other people in your success, how much more successful could you have been because you didn't do it.

And there's an old saying that goes something along the lines is lonely at the top. And as business leaders, Leo, you alluded to this. It is lonely at the top. Who can you speak to about some of the business issues you can't speak to family or friends, you don't want to worry them.

And even though they may mean well, they don't have a life experience to try and help you. So, who do you have to speak to? And that's really going to be a CEO peer group. And then the last thing I'll share with all the business owners out there and your CEOs and the leaders. It's simply this you are for your business, the world's expert.

No one knows the business better than you. You can go out and hire the most successful, most expensive advisor or consultant, but you still know your business better. You have the answers. You don't have the questions. And so Leo, talk to us a little bit about how do you help CEOs, leaders, founders, entrepreneurs, business owners, get those questions that they can begin answering to take their business to the next level.

[00:28:13] Leo Popik: Yeah, that's a great question. So, the first thing in that is that you have to pair them with the right people. So, as an organization, we are very selective as to who comes in. Like I said, there it's very accessible from a money standpoint, but if you show up and you don't have the right role, this is an organization for CEOs and founders, and business owners.

So, if you don't have that role then you can't join. So, there are always requirements to be in these CEO communities. And we have our own, anybody who wants to see what ours are just go into leadingpeers.com and you'll see, what do you need to fulfill to enter our community.

It's very easy. And if you're a business owner or a CEO, chances are, you will fulfill the requirements. And the process to join us is fairly simple. But the first thing is you have to have the right people around you. Cause you said It before Jeffrey, we can go to our family and friends, but if your wife was a brain surgeon and she said, hey, love, how do I do this next brain surgery?

You know, If you're responsible, you'd say I don't have a clue. And in the same way, if you have a challenge with your business and you went to your spouse and said, how would you solve this issue, your wife, the brain surgeon, if she was responsible, she should tell you I don't have the slightest idea, but when she goes to a brain surgeon and ask that person will probably give a qualified answer. So, that's why we have to surround ourselves as CEOs and business owners with people that are in the same role because they will absolutely have an idea of how to navigate that.

And if they don't have the perfect answer, they'll be able to point you in the direction of somebody who you need to talk to.

When people come into their monthly peer advisory board meeting, they bring in the critical issue that they want us to focus on. And normally it's a business issue. On occasion, it's a personal issue that's affecting their business. And when they share that business issue, they will tell us this is why I'm stuck, or this is why I'm having such a hard time with this issue and they'll say what they need help with.

And so then everybody starts asking questions to see if they've understood the challenge well that, that person's going through, number one. And then number two, if that person has considered different things already cause when you ask that person questions, you will see they say, I hadn't even thought of that. Or if they say yes, I've thought about that a lot, and here's where I'm at with that.

 And what that does is it informs the rest of the people in the group. Everybody I should say in the group. What the next question should be. So, if somebody in the group was thinking of asking the person who presented their issue, that, but somebody else goes and asks first.

 And then you get a response from the person who has a challenge that is, I've already thought about it. I'm a hundred percent sure this is what I want to do with. Then you know that that's not the question you want to ask. You don't want to go and beat the horse over their head.

You want to find an opportunity for a breakthrough. And by that, you have to come up with the question that's going to generate that breakthrough or that at least it's going to open up the window to identify what the opportunity may be for growth because the way we grow as business leaders is one of two ways.

Either we are hit with an idea that we have never really entertained. We've not run across or we've discarded and not tried it out, not put it into action. So, that's one way or the second is we've embraced an idea, but we don't know how to make it happen.

We don't know how to implement this new idea And so the questions are going to be directed to have you had this idea that I think can fix your problem. And that's the first line of questioning. And then the second one if everybody's convinced that the person has identified the idea that they need to implement into their business, but they don't know how, then the questions revolve around different ways that, that person can successfully implement the idea. So, again, there isn't a right question. It depends on what is the critical issue that's presented, but there is an order that does make sense of first, do you have the new idea that's going to help you get to the next level or to solve or overcome this challenge?

And then do you have what it takes to implement this idea successfully. If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to get the same results. So, it's gotta be either a new idea, something that you haven't done before, that's going to help you get there, but it's gotta be implemented correctly. If I say to you, oh, you can go to this place with your family over the weekend. It's going to be amazing. But then I don't tell you how to get there. It's not going to happen. It's just as important to identify what the opportunity is to try something new as it is to help that person navigate the path toward getting to that destination successfully so that they can optimize that idea, that opportunity for growth in the best way possible.

[00:33:12] Jeffrey Feldberg: It makes a lot of sense, Leo. And so I'm wondering about the logistics of how it works with Leading Peers. You mentioned it's one day a month. Can you walk us through, how long is that day, and is it in person? Is it virtual? What does it look like?

[00:33:26] Leo Popik: So, Jeffrey today every meeting is happening in person up until May because of the pandemic, they were all on Zoom. By and large, people prefer to do this in person. That's been my experience both as a former member of Vistage and also now with our groups and Leading Peers, I just find that people are more able to open up if they feel that there are in closed doors, nothing is getting recorded.

Nobody is surrounded by other people around their computer. And they can really read the body language of everybody around the room. So, we're doing them in person. It's once a month. And every peer board we have is capped at eight members. So, they're all between four and eight members. We keep them small.

We have a facilitator. I'm currently the facilitator of the peer boards that we have once we have eight peer boards running and we're currently starting our third peer board, then we will bring in other people to facilitate the peer boards. And in terms of how long we run the meetings for three and a half hours.

We have found that the main reason people resist trying a CEO peer group is time, lack of time. It's not really lack of money that's stopping people from trying. It's lack of time or they just don't know the value that it has. We covered the value before so and we talked about the time element, but I wanted to make sure that people didn't feel like this was too much time.

And because we are now commuting to the meeting, it can take a person 30 to 60 minutes to do the commuting to the meeting, depending on where we do the meeting. So, we keep the meeting at three and a half hours, so that as our members think about it, it's overall like a four-hour commitment every month.

But the way I think about it is you're not stopping your work for four hours a month. You're actually doing a very different kind of work during those four hours of the month. So, for those of us who are workaholics and we suffer as entrepreneurs in general for working too hard and being sucked into the work nonstop, and always be thinking about our work, don't think for a second, then when you go into a meeting like this you're off on a break. In reality, what you're going to be doing is you're going to be tapping into the sides of your brain and your creativity and your heart and your soul that are going to allow you to figure out what is that idea again that you need to try for the first time, or what is the way to implement that new idea that is going to make it the most optimal way to have an impact in your business and in your life. So, three and a half hours, what it does Jeffrey is it allows everybody on average, about half an hour to focus on themselves. So, if you've got six people, three hours go to those six people half hour each. And we spend a little bit of time doing other things that generate accountability in the group.

And that is, we do present some key performance indicators at the start of the meeting. And that way we're very different from traditional CEO organizations like EO or Vistage. We want people to come in and share the numbers of their sales and their profit. We have a way of doing that, which is very efficient so that not much time at all is wasted in how we share that, but it keeps everybody grounded and understanding what's happening from a financial perspective so that when we share our critical challenges, we know how other people are doing and how they're being affected by events or things that are happening in the market or within their own organization.

You know, maybe they lost the critical salesperson and sales are down 20%. And so we want to see those KPIs at the beginning of the meeting because then we're more able to help and address the real performance that the entrepreneurs around the table are having from a business financial perspective.

This is important. We're here for two things, personal and professional growth. For a business owner and CEO, if their business is not doing well financially that's going to affect their desire and their ability to grow both personally and professionally. So, we knocked that out of the way early on how is profit going year to date? How are your sales going?

And then we focus on everybody's critical issue, three and a half hours. We're done, we're out of the door. And for now, that's all that we require our members to do. There are a lot of other opportunities for growth in between these peer board meetings. In the form of training that we do and in the form of events that we organize, but the only commitment you have to make is to that peer advisory board, monthly meeting.

[00:38:02] Jeffrey Feldberg: Leo what a terrific formula and what I love about this is as a business owner, maybe you're going through a particular challenge or situation. You don't have a lot of experience and you haven't gone through it before. And even though your other members of your peer board are in different industries, different businesses there's a good chance that someone in that group has been through a similar situation.

And now you get into lessons learned and wisdom, do this. Don't do that. All those wonderful kinds of things that only hindsight can give you. And that's what you're going to get with a CEO peer group. So, I think it's a terrific way to approach that Leo.

Leo, we're starting to brush up against some time here and I'm gonna change gears here a little bit and going to the one question that I love to ask every guest on The Sell My Business Podcast. And that question is this, if you think of the movie Back to the Future, and in the movie, you have that magical DeLorean car that can go to any point in time of your choosing.

Well, Leo, imagine that it's tomorrow morning, the DeLorean car is sitting outside your door and it's waiting for you to hop on in, you can go back to any point in time in your life, Leo, as a child, an adolescent, teenager, adult, whatever it would be. Leo, what are you telling your younger self in terms of here's what I want you to be thinking about, or don't do this. Try that. Life lessons, all those wonderful things that you've learned over the years. What would you be telling your younger self? What does that look like?

[00:39:29] Leo Popik: That's an amazing question, Jeffery, and one I've never heard asked in any podcast or interview. I would like to go back to, I guess my teens. When I was a teenager, I moved from St. Louis back to Buenos Aires, Argentina. And over that move, I lost a lot of things. I lost my friends.

I lost the sports teams that I was in. I lost my high school and I lost a feeling of belonging to my church. And it took me about 32 years to get back to church, just for you to have an idea. I mean, I got married in a church and I baptized my kids, but I didn't even attend one single mass in 32 years.

And so I would go back to that moment and I would ask me, to really think about what I was willing to give up and what at that point I was able to hold onto in a different way because I think that the change that occurred at that point in me was so profound but it disconnected me in many ways to a lot of things that gave my life a sense of meaning and direction.

And so between the age of 15 and 30, I tried a lot of different things. I searched for what was my place in the world. And today I don't have any regrets, but if I could go back, I would ask that person, do you really have to abandon everything all of a sudden, just because you can't have it in the way that it was available to you in St. Louis and with your former friends and in your former communities and spaces. I think when we are shocked, life-changing events like a move that we didn't want to happen. There is sometimes a part of us that just wants to abandon things entirely because it's too painful to do it in a different way or to a lesser degree.

And that's what I went through. So, I just started a new life altogether and I think sometimes we lose ourselves when we do that. So, I would definitely go back and ask myself if there's a better way to navigate the years ahead that didn't make me lose so much of who I was. I loved my life at 15 and a lot of what came later was very challenging and a lot of searches of us for success.

Which I don't really looking back now feel, make too much sense based on where I am right now. I just believe that there are things that are much more important than how much money you make or how powerful you become. And I think I overstretched a little bit in those directions and lost a little bit of sense of why I was doing it and what really matters to me.

[00:42:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: What a great insight and perhaps we all need to have more flexibility as life circumstances bring change into our lives and looking at how we can continue doing what we're doing, but perhaps in a different way.

Leo, I'm going to put this in the show notes for our listeners to make it really easy for them to point and click.

If someone wants to reach out to you and learn more about Leading Peers, what would be the best place online to do that?

[00:42:25] Leo Popik: Well, first of all, it's our website go to www.leadingpeers.com. You go there, there is a way for you to send us a message in the contact us section. That'll make its way to our team. My email for those who are in your podcasts, I want to make it available is L as in leading, p as in peers [at]leadingpeers[dot]com. Now, LP is also my initials Leo Popik so lp[at]leadingpeers[dot]com. You can email me directly. For those who reach out to me, I'll definitely make that available to you for us to have a chat or have a Zoom conversation.

And yeah, I'm very available. I'm very dedicated to building this community, this organization. I want it to be the best-in-class support system. So, that's the bit that we didn't talk about Jeffrey. We talked about my passion and the market need, but in terms of why I think I am the best or among the best at doing this and that was an important part of this all.

And so for those who reach out, just know that I've gone through enough things in my business life, as well as in my personal life, in terms of challenges and overcoming them. And I'm still only 48, so I want to work the next, what, 50 years of my life. So, I consider myself very young and always learning new things from digital marketing to automation, to tech and systems.

And so I really enjoy what I do. I love business. And I have the personal experience and my whole life I've been working with leaders in different ways, in different spaces. And I have brought people together. That's what drew me to the events industry, which was my past life, and to empowering people through coming together.

And so I really feel I have a unique take on things and I can help everybody by being the architect of this community, where our members are stars, and I'm learning from them just as much, if not more, as they're learning from me.

[00:44:18] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow, Leo terrific. And for our listeners out there, you know, I think Leo, you gave us a little bit of a personal challenge of why not having our audience reach out to Leo and hear in his own words, why Leading Peers is the best thing around and is going to be absolutely beneficial for you. And so Leo, on that note, as we wrap up this episode, a tremendous and heartfelt thank you for spending part of your day on The Sell My Business Podcast. And as always, please stay healthy and safe.

[00:44:44] Leo Popik: It's pleasure to spend this day with you.

[00:44:46] Jeffrey Feldberg: Thanks so much. Take care.

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Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you leaving millions on the table?

Please visit www.deepwealth.com/success to learn more.

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