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Aug. 3, 2022

Leo Popik On Why It's Not Lonely At The Top When You're In The Right Type Of CEO Peer Group (#148)

Leo Popik On Why It's Not Lonely At The Top When You're In The Right Type Of CEO Peer Group (#148)

"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.

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Enjoy the interview!


[00:00:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: 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.

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 Deep Wealth to Sell My Business Podcast. And I'm really excited because with us today is no stranger to the Deep Wealth community. You've heard Leo and all about Leading Peers. In a previous episode, I'm gonna put that in the show notes, but I speaking with Leo recently and he was telling me about the exciting enhancements that's been going on with the CEO-peer group and the benefits that business owners have been having through him.

I said you know what, Leo. Let's get you back on let's share what's been happening. And as always together, the two of us today are gonna pay it forward. So Leo, welcome back to the Deep Wealth, Sell My Business Podcast. And you know what, for the benefit of the new listeners who haven't had a chance yet to listen to the first episode, why don't we go back to the beginning for just a moment, because there's always a story behind the story.

Leo, what's your story? What got you to where you are today with Leading Peers?

[00:03:24] Leo Popik: Well, first of all, Jeffrey. It's great to be in your show. And this podcast I think really highly of you and everybody in our community who heard you present was really, really awed at your level of knowledge. So, It's great to be back. How did I get started? I launched my first company about 20 years ago and I was growing it alone like most business owners do. And at some point, you know, trying to grab a book that would educate me into how to do it better, how to be able to break through barriers. I learned about the concept of peer-to-peer learning and peer-to-peer CEO groups and how vital those were. And this was a very eye-opening moment for me.

And I remember I told myself, I've got to try this at one point or another in my life, but one thing just kept getting in the way after another. And before I knew it, the years went by and I had not tried it. And finally, about three and a half years ago, I said, I'm going to do this. I'm gonna try this out.

And it was such a game changer for me, Jeffrey. I mean, to be able to go into a monthly board meeting with peers who were just like me, you know, entrepreneurial types, go-getters, big dreamers, risk takers and to see what they were accomplishing and just feel the excitement around the room and share what I was going through.

And then to start to open up and get help. It was just such a game changer. And by the way, I joined an organization that's been around for 75 years. I think it's Vistage international. And it's one of the three largest peer-to-peer learning organizations that there are in the CEO space. And then the pandemic hit and my business, which was doing eight-digit revenues at the time went to zero cause what I did in my business was international corporate events, all of that got canceled. And so as I was slashing costs and figuring out how to best manage my time to start a new business.

I realized that the Vistage format was not working for me anymore. And that everything that I'd really enjoyed up until that point just wasn't working out anymore. And so I started to look at the other alternatives and it turned out that YPO you had to be 44 or younger. I was at that point 46.

Turned out that EO, I had to shell out over $11,000 before I even walked into a meeting to see what it was about. And it just felt like these barriers of entry were insurmountable, were not welcoming. And I thought to myself, there's gotta be another community that would help a guy like me trying to reinvent himself, figure out his way forward as an entrepreneur.

Come on, I love entrepreneurship. I hadn't been a W2 until that moment in my entire life. I couldn't fathom the idea of going out and handing out resumes when I knew I had the entrepreneurial drive and gene in me, that's just how I'm built. And so I needed a community of like-minded entrepreneurial types to help me figure out my next move.

 I could try to do it on my own, but it was never gonna be as polished as nuanced, as smart from very capable people like yourselves. So, when I did my research and I just couldn't find the community that was welcoming, that was accessible. That allowed me to spend my time really carefully and wisely.

I realized that's what was needed in society. And I took it from there. I just said, here's my blue ocean, because this is a vital need that people just like me must be having all over the country and all over the world.

[00:06:49] Jeffrey Feldberg: Leo, I love that story because you are a business owner through and through and as business owners, what do we do? We find these painful problems that we're passionate to solve, not just for us, but for other people. And you said, hey you know what? I'm getting so much benefit from a CEO-peer group, but, and, you know, then comes all the different reasons why what's out there doesn't work for you.

And hey, if I'm feeling like this, other people are gonna feel like this and you go out there and I know you've had tremendous growth, you've been really received so well by the community. And you shared offline that you're one of the best-kept secrets out there. And you felt a little bit guilty of not being able to share this with others who weren't local and now you're going virtual and really welcoming, not just from across the country, but successful business owners from around the world because let's face it that saying it's lonely at the top

It wasn't just made up. It's true. It's lonely at the top. When you have these challenges, you can't really speak to family members.

You certainly can't speak to employees. Who do you wanna speak to? You wanna speak to other successful business owners who have been there, they've done that and they can give you the insights to help take you to the next level. So speaking of those insights and taking things to the next level, Leo what's been going on in Leading Peers? What have been some of the topics that you can share with us?

Some of the issues that have come up that perhaps other business owners in the Deep Wealth community they're listening to this. hey, yeah, I'm going through that. I would love to learn a little bit more about that. So what's been happening?

[00:08:15] Leo Popik: Well, you know, Jeffrey on the one hand, you've got the traditional topics that every CEO, every business owner deals with, and then you've got the topics that are unique to our time. So the traditional topics are there very much front and center. How do I continue to grow without having to work more hours in my business?

Cause I want to have work-life balance or how do I strengthen my team without stretching the finances to the point where we become unprofitable or how do I transition out of a partner relationship that's no longer serving me like it did. It's at some point in the past or how do I get out of the company that I built without losing all the value that I've built over the years, you know how to exit.

And I know you are such an authority on the topic, but it comes up over and over. Whether it be by I'm looking to sell or people are approaching me or not just to buy me, but buy me out. But sometimes to merge my company with theirs we've seen so much of that. And the list goes on and on how do I manage my time better?

What should I focus on? What opportunities are there to build a team without having the large overhead by seizing the opportunity of hybrid and work from home. And I'm moving now into the topics that are unique to our time. There's been such a shift in the workplace in the last couple of years. The shift, first of all, to remote work, which was something that existed, but you saw very few cases, you know, at least as a percentage of the overall workforce.

And now it's become the prevalent way of working at least for knowledge workers, working from home or working in hybrid environments. And with that comes working with people all over the world. It really opens up the talent pool to the entire world. So our entrepreneurs, our CEOs are hiring in the Philippines and Bangladesh, in India, in Argentina and Columbia in Kenya, and all over the world at maybe a fraction of the cost that they were paying before and somebody highly skilled that they can rely on. So, one area is definitely how to change the team and not lose the culture, not lose the accountability.

The other thing that we've also seen is issues related with supply chain. Some of our entrepreneurs are really struggling with the changes in the supply chains from the last few years. Shipping taking longer especially when it's coming from abroad. Some things not being available anymore and having to redesign their supply chains.

Another, new topic that's come up a lot is inflation. You know, how to address rising costs. How do you figure out a way to keep your margins healthy when your costs are going up, your costs of good sold is going up. How do you deal with that rising cogs and not pass it on to the client? Or if you have to, how do you pass it on to the client? Also how to deal with a slowing economy now that things are starting to slow down as interest rates rise. So many of these things that I mentioned are happening in the United States, but they're happening around the world.

Pretty much the whole global economy is encountering a slower growth pace, higher inflation, higher interest rates, and a very tough labor market to navigate in very challenging supply chains. So as business owners, these are some of the things that we are addressing that are very specific to our times.

[00:11:31] Jeffrey Feldberg: Leo, wow, there is so much there. I mean, any one of those topics could be just an episode in and of itself, but what it does highlight is there's always new challenges in business. And as business owners, it's always, how do I stay not just up with those issues, but how do I stay ahead of them? How can I actually thrive and prosper, not survive, but thrive and prosper from this? So maybe what we can do with those topics that you mentioned, let's take a quick step back so we can take a few steps forward for people who perhaps are used to a CEO-peer group. They know what that's about, or even those that have never been part of a CEO-peer group.

You're very different in how you go about doing this. Why don't we talk a little bit about your method to the madness and there is a system behind it's working your growth and your members will obviously speak to that. And for the listeners, I had the privilege and it really was a privilege of speaking to Leo's group.

And I was just surrounded with successful business owners and the questions that they were asking were over the top and the experience that they had and their insights. It was really an action-packed afternoon of learning from each other and trading best practices and coming away of, okay, I now feel number one, I'm not alone. And number two, I can apply these strategies not next week, not next month, not next year. I can apply these strategies today. So Leo, why don't you share how it actually works within the CEO-peer group, otherwise known as Leading Peers, and what you're doing to extract that knowledge and that paying it forward and that sharing.

[00:13:06] Leo Popik: I'm delighted. It's a great question, Jeffrey. So the first thing is we really want our experience to focus around the peer advisory board. And so that meeting is a monthly meeting that every member has. Every member of our community is assigned a peer advisory board. And these are small groups to keep them highly efficient and keep the members highly engaged.

So we capped the groups at eight members. Now, this is not a random number. We've realized that over the years, YPO and EO were capping them at eight and they had a lot of thought process and research behind this number of people. We know other organizations as was a case of Vistage would allow groups to have 18, sometimes even 20 members.

And that was my experience, of course, coming from Vistage. And I believe that a smaller group of eight gives you enough perspectives around the room. In our case, we even add a peer board leader, which YPO and EO do not have we provide that we hire somebody, we select hire and train somebody that performs that role like Vistage does.

So we're kind of grabbing the best of both worlds, from YPO and EO we're keeping the groups capped at eight, and from Vistage, we're putting a peer board leader that we hire select and train to conduct a group, whereas in YPO and EO one of the eight members, volunteers to be the moderator of the group.

So our methodology gives you the best of both worlds of a small group. So you have ample time to share your opportunities and challenges. And at the same time, have somebody who has been hired and selected on the basis of their qualifications to facilitate a peer board meeting and are held accountable for the results and the level of satisfaction of the members of that group.

And so that person is there because they love to do this line of work. They can fulfill the requirement, but they're actually doing this because it's their vocation, it's their purpose. It's what they enjoy doing is they help is they enjoy helping other CEOs succeed.

They want to pay forward. They've already been there. We only select as peer board leaders, people who have had the entrepreneurial experience themselves. Which means running an entire organization, being responsible for a P&L, and a P&L that would qualify them to join as members of Leading Peers. Now to join as a member of Leading Peers, the minimum revenue you have to have in the last 12 consecutive months as CEO is $200,000.

That's not a huge baseline. And our members on average do a few million dollars of revenue, but it just ensures that if somebody's got off the ground, let's say a year or a year and a half ago, they have already reached that level and they can join us and they don't need to wait until somebody else opens the door to them.

So on average, our members are doing somewhere around 3 to 5 million dollars of revenue, and they sometimes even have more than one company. It's such an entrepreneurial environment that we're building that typically and this is common to our times as well. Jeffrey is a lot of entrepreneurs have their feet in a lot of different businesses.

They might be CEO of one, but they might be investors in two or three others, or they might be CEO of two companies at the same time. And they're trying to figure out which one they're gonna focus on. Which one is more successful. They're watching examples like Elon Musk, who's a CEO of more than one big, huge, company, and saying, maybe I can do that as well, and that didn't use to be the CEO prototype. That's the core of the experience.

Now what's interesting at what we do in these meetings as well, is that we always start by sharing key performance indicators. And that's something that I had not seen any other CEO-peer community do. And so you have to share with your group how your sales are doing, how your profit is doing, and you actually have to show numbers.

You can't just talk about and say, we're doing great, numbers speak for themselves. And they paint a very clear reality. And we want the people in your peer advisory board to really feel like they are your advisors. And you would never hire people to be advisors in your board and shy away from sharing the numbers which indicate the health of your business indicate the trends in your business. How can everybody around the room or around the table give you good advice about whether to make an investment if they don't know if you have the funds to even make that investment? And so we wanna base it in reality of at least the financial results that the business is producing and we don't go into too many KPIs, key performance indicators. We don't go into Net Promoter scores with clients and employees and technical KPIs that pertain specifically to your industry or company. But we do focus on the two main things that give us a quick snapshot of the financial health of any business.

And then we spend the rest of the meeting going around and giving equal time to every one of the eight people in the peer advisory board to share the they want to bring to the floor and somebody might say, I'm having a challenge and I need your help to overcome it. And somebody else might say, I've got this opportunity and I need to figure out the best way to seize the opportunity or maybe I think it's a great opportunity and I need to let it go and I just need to learn to say no to it. I want to hear the perspectives around the room. And so if we have eight people in that meeting, everybody will get 25 minutes and that's the typical three and a half hour monthly peer advisory board meeting. Now I don't wanna extend too much, but we have three other services that are adjacent to the peer board. And of course, you came as part of our training program, which is the expert-led summit. And it's one of those three others.

[00:18:36] Jeffrey Feldberg: We're gonna circle back to that. But before we do, you shared so many things in there, let's unpack that. And Leo, you know what great minds think alike because I've been a part of a CEO-peer group for decades. I'm gonna date myself here a little bit, but for decades I've been part of a CEO-peer group.

And I couldn't agree with you more. The challenge is if the group size you've capped at eight and I agree that's an ideal group size. Even in the Deep Wealth Experience, we have it right around eight, give or take either side of that, but too large, nothing really gets done. And too little, if it's too small a group, you're not really getting that value out of that.

And so I just love how eight that's your magic number because that is the magic number to extract the learning. And then you bring up a really interesting point that all too often is overlooked. And let me give a sports analogy and then I'm gonna tie it back into business. You can have a world-class pitcher in baseball, you know what this pitcher can be winning you the World Series. But to assume that pitcher can make a terrific coach. Well, it doesn't necessarily pan out. So now let's go to the role of business just because you're successful in business doesn't mean that you're gonna make a good, I call it a facilitator or a small group leader. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're successful in business you're also gonna hit it outta the park in terms of leading a group. And it's terrific how you're bringing in professionals, not just any professionals, business professionals, they've had success in the business, but they're also really world class at how do you conduct a meeting? How do you make sure that there's no loud mouths that are dominating the meeting that no one can get a word in edgewise or on the flip side that no one's saying anything and everyone's just sitting there so the fact that you have professional facilitators really helps take everything to the next level?

And then for your business owners out there. It's a blessing and a curse. We answer to ourselves. That's a blessing, but that can also be the curse. Accountability often is lacking. And so Leo, when you have the KPIs that you must share with your group, it's a little bit of pressure there.

You know, my meetings coming up, what's going on? Oh my goodness. You know, last month I was here. And I'm not moving the dial and I gotta get in front of my peers now, and I have to tell them, you know what nothing's been happening has actually been moving in the opposite way. The wrong way. A little bit of accountability is always a good thing.

And this way we're not just answering to ourselves, we're answering to our group and for the business owners out there who aren't part of a CEO group, or maybe you are, but you're not getting the value out of that, what Leo has put together is truly world-class. I've had the privilege and the benefit of working with different CEO, peer groups, between members of CEO, peer groups, and Leo I'd have to say you wrote the book on a CEO-peer group because you took the pain points that you find in so many of them you've addressed them head on and you've resolved them. So let's circle back now, you mentioned that you have three other services that you provide and you spoke about one of them where you're bringing in outside experts in an ask me anything kind of session. In addition to that, what are the other two things that you're doing?

[00:21:44] Leo Popik: Yeah. So just to round out that topic what we did with the expert-led summits is we're doing them virtually because we want to be able to record the experience. We find that the topics are so evergreen, in other words, so important to go back to whenever you want. And the people we bring in are so knowledgeable on their topic that we don't want it to be forgotten.

We're flooded with content nowadays, but then when you want that really important piece of content you just can't seem to find it cause it's been buried by the hundreds of emails that you're receiving per day or books or invitations to events. So we have this member portal that with your login, you go in and you click on the library and you can search for any topic you want.

And the library is super friendly. So if I write exit cause I remember that Jeffrey Feldberg talked about exit and I don't remember his name. I don't remember anything, that might have been in the title of the presentation, but I put the word exit and it takes me right into every presentation we have that covers exits.

And so then, sure enough, Jeffrey Feldberg's presentation on how to create a great exit from your company pops up. And I say, oh, that's who it was. That's who I need to watch again. Now, maybe two years after he came and spoke to our group because now is when I really need to focus on my exit, which I want to do in the next three years.

I didn't want to gloss over that because we do it in a very different way. From the way, traditional CEO groups have done it. We really leverage the changes in technology and the habits that have come up in the last two years of online learning and finding content through keyword searches.

We also invite our experts who come in to send us material that we can upload. So there's always downloadable resources for our members to be able to grab. Sometimes they don't wanna watch the full hour-long presentation. They just want to get that deck and go to that slide, which illustrates exactly what was conjured in their mind when they were getting that presentation.

And maybe share that one slide in the deck with somebody else or that exercise. Sometimes these are templates for them to fill out. When they need to go through a certain exercise with their team or with themselves. So that's one really important bit.

Another very valuable service is our connecting peers' event series. And what this does is it builds connections and relationships outside of your immediate seven people that you are in the peer advisory board with, along with you, being the eighth person. And of course your peer board leader, you may want to meet other people in your industry. It may be valuable to exchange thoughts with people that are in your industry.

And you're not gonna have those people in your peer advisory board because of course the eight people in a peer board are in non-competing industries, so they can be completely vulnerable and feel safe about sharing any trade secrets, new opportunities, challenges with their peers. But when they think of our community at large, they may want a better vendor for whatever it is that they're selling. And if they go to somebody who is in their industry and is a member of Leading Peers, they immediately have that trust factor of saying, hey, let's talk about this, cause I'm having a challenge here. And they can just share that one piece without feeling that they are opening up to a competitor and sharing their biggest secrets which may be, hey, I'm struggling in this area. And obviously, I don't want my competition to know just how bad I'm struggling, but they're willing to share, hey, I need help with this one thing. How are you doing there?

And they know that they'll pay that back in another way but it also happens that people want connections in other industries. You may have somebody in your peer board, who's a great marketing company owner, but it turns out that they focus on paid ads and you wanna build a connection with a marketing company owner that's better with branding or it's better with social media, or it's better with email marketing. And so it allows you to find that vendor that you need, or it allows you to get knowledge or to just get a different perspective from the one you're getting. And sometimes in your peer advisory board, you just won't have a certain area covered, cause I mean, eight is not gonna give you the full gamut of expertise and industries out there.

So you might wanna have a cybersecurity expert and there is no cybersecurity expert in your group, but we'll certainly have it in our community. So these events, they're not your typical event, where you go and exchange business cards. We do deep work. And we go right to the bone as to who we are, what's happening in business, what we need help with, how we can help each other out.

And the last one of the core services we offer Jeffrey is we call it the chat room to stay connected and collaborate anytime, anywhere. And this chat room is a simple app that you have on the phone that allows you to connect either with people on your board or people in our wider community, without needing to remember everybody's email or flooding them with tons of email, it's just a more simple format.

It moves with you. When sometimes when you have a few minutes to spare, as you're waiting in line for something to happen, an appointment at a doctor's office, you just go into that app and say, let's see what my group is talking about and how I can contribute here. Or let me post this question now and see what they have to say about that without, having to wait to get back into the office and find everybody's email or the last email and click reply all and flood everybody's email, which I think we're all tired of an excess of emails. Those are the other services that really just strengthen the value of being a part of our community.

[00:27:10] Jeffrey Feldberg: And what's interesting in that is you're just making it easy. You're rounding it out. And Leo, let me go back to a point that you made earlier that's perhaps all too easy to gloss over or just let it fly one way or the other. What's interesting with your group is you really have members that perhaps are early-stage startups all the way to very experienced successful businesses. I mean, in that room where I was talking at that time we had businesses like you mentioned, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in the millions of dollars in the tens of millions of dollars. And so regardless of where your business is as a business owner, let's not become a snob and say, you know what?

My business is, I'm gonna pick a number $25 million in revenue. I don't wanna talk to anyone who doesn't have at least seven figures of revenue, because again, in my experience, and I'd love to hear your experience as an established business when I'm hearing someone from a startup talk. I am taken to issues that maybe I'm not paying attention to, or I've chosen to ignore, or they fly under the radar and it reminds me, oh, you know what? Yeah. Even though so, and so's business is in startup phase I need to look at what that issue is in my business to take my business to the next level and vice versa. If I'm a business owner who is just getting going, my revenue's a little bit on the smaller side, I can hear from business owners who have that large revenue that are up there and the tens of millions of dollars of putting in systems and processes that are gonna make the difference for me.

So I'm wondering from what you've seen, Leo, how that exchange has gone with members who are all over the board from hundreds of thousands in revenue to tens of millions of dollars in revenue?

[00:28:45] Leo Popik: Yeah, that's such a great question, Jeffrey, because when you know, I started Leading Peers, I was really focused on this issue of how is somebody going to feel about being in the same room with somebody with a different revenue level. It turns out that there is such a thing as having too big of a gap between one or the other, but there is also a thing about having too little of a gap. Because it turns out that when you have that balance, that middle point where there is some contrast, but you're still in the same stage or in the same types of issues is when you get the most value. When everybody is doing exactly 10 to $11 million, you don't get that fresh and creative thinking of that entrepreneur who launched a short while ago, in startup phase. She's figuring out the future, think of a Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 at Harvard, I'm sure if you put him in the same board as Jamie Diamond from Chase, the CEO of Chase would say, this guy doesn't belong here with me, but today, Facebook is valued a lot more as a company.

Its valuation is a lot higher than Chase. And that kind of thinking that this person who's in startup mode doesn't belong in the room with me really gets you in trouble. Things change really quickly. And it's amazing when you grab the NASDAQ or the S&Por the Dow, and you look at how many of the companies that are at the 10 largest existed 30 years ago, turns out that 75% of the companies that are in the top 30 didn't exist 30 years ago. And so you have to respect the pace at which business evolves nowadays, and it's only getting quicker. So having a little bit of disparity is healthy, cause it allows you to have those newer startups, those more creative organizations, or the ones that are coming up with something that's really specific to the times that they were recently launched. Now at the same time, there is such a thing as having too big of a gap. So, we always honor that minimum threshold of at least $200,000 of revenue in the last 12 months. We don't really want to be the place to come to, to help you launch your business or figure out if you should even be an entrepreneur in the first place.

You should be at a point if you join Leading Peers where you can make a living out of your business so that you can focus full time on that, and you don't have to focus on having a job to sustain yourself. That said we do want to give our members an option as we go bigger to tell us, hey, I feel that I'm due for a change in the group that I'm in, because as much as I like, and I trust the people I'm with I feel that my business has grown a lot.

And if you could pair me with people who are slightly more in my category, that would be great. So going forward, we've always taken these kinds of comments on board, but it's only, now that we're putting together our seventh peer board that we have more options to give the people who are in our community.

As we grow Jeffrey, I think this is gonna become an increasingly important feature of our offering is pairing you with people that work well for where you're at, but it's never gonna be a 10 to 11 million go here 11 to 12, go there because just like it's good to have non-competing people in the same room. It's good to have people at different stages in business, in the same room.

[00:31:56] Jeffrey Feldberg: Makes absolute sense. And like you said, Leo, nothing is ever stagnant. And so the group that you're with today, just like in business, the set of employees that you started out with, you're likely gonna need a different skill set as you grow. And when you get to that next level, the people that help to get you there, unfortunately, may not be the same people to help get you to the next level.

And so it's terrific how you're saying, hey. You can start here, but you're not forever going to be in this group at any time, just let us know and we'll move you around and put you into different groups. And at the same time, the biggest danger when everyone is more or less the same, even though they may be in different industries.

But if they're the same size I tend to find group think comes in, we're dealing with the same issues. Different businesses, different industries, but we go down the wrong path because of groupthink so when you vary it up in my experience, and it sounds like yours is the same Leo, we avoid the group think, and we're really getting fresh insights, maybe even new industries that didn't exist even a year ago.

You have a new member. Who's now part of your group and you're now on not the cutting edge, but the bleeding edge of what's happening out there. And you can take that and apply it to your business.

[00:33:08] Leo Popik: Absolutely Jeffrey. We have members right now who are working in the crypto space. We have members right now that are working in the NFT and blockchain space. We have members that have put together SPACS. So special purpose acquisition companies and they are now acquiring companies with the money that they've raised already starting out from being in the stock market.

And we have members that are working to get their companies into the stock market someday through an IPO. And so, for somebody who's doing a more traditional business-like, you know, restaurant owner, or a dental clinic to be in the room with somebody working on some of these cutting edge technologies.

We have people working in artificial intelligence right now. I would've never imagined and I'm being absolutely forthcoming with this. When we started that so many technology entrepreneurs would be attracted to us. Because I thought there's an entirely new ecosystem or separate ecosystem for the tech world.

 And they'll go to the likes of Y Combinator and the VCs, to get venture capital funding. Turns out that a lot of entrepreneurs don't really care for the VC scene. And they're very careful about who they want to allow into their board of directors as a shareholder and as a voice because they love running their business and they don't want to be told what to do.

And VCs way too often or private equities will take a controlling stake where they'll maneuver their way, very smartly into control of the company. And they'll even push for the business to spend too much too fast so that the business requires more funding. So eventually they get some of their other VC friends in the room and are able to drive the business to their goal of selling in 3, 4, 5 years, never more than seven.

And the business owner is often just having the time of their life and is somebody like, you can imagine a Steve Jobs with Apple just in love with their company and just wanting to continue to drive growth. And Tim Cook is doing it now for how many years? Over 10 years since Job's death, and it doesn't look like he's tired of it.

It doesn't look like he's lost the interest. And so there's a lot of business owners in the tech world who just want that sounding board without losing their independence and that long-term control over their company. And so I would say of our 34 current members, let's say about 10 of them are in the technology space and that percentage is growing.

[00:35:29] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Leo, what's amazing about this and you really are spot on with what you're saying. And I like the term sounding board because let's face it. I don't know of any business owner who is an island onto him or herself. It takes other people, even if you're the only person, the only owner of the company to do it all on your own, it's difficult at best.

And I'm gonna say, if that's what you're doing, you're likely limiting the full potential of your company. And so now you have a situation where you're not with these expensive consultants who have their hands in your pocket, on your checkbook, every day, every week, every month, you're with other entrepreneurs who are in the line of fire and really their agenda for you is your success.

No more, no less. It doesn't really get any better than that because it's not gonna be well, you know, I want you to do this because it is better for me. The advice that you're getting from your groups, Leo is, hey, this has worked. This is probably gonna work for you. Let's talk about that. And you really have the opportunity where you're sharing best practices and you're trading different war stories, hey, I'm really going through this. Oh, Leo, I remember when I went through that, here's what I wish I would've known at the time. Here you go. Years of learning taken off the table and instantly coming outta that meeting, you're so much better for it.

[00:36:43] Leo Popik: Absolutely Jeffrey and couple things I want to add about the beauty of CEO, peer groups that you know, to piggyback on what you were just saying. The first thing is that when you create your own board if you don't join one of these organizations, the tendency is you're gonna pick people who understand the industry and they're already experienced in your industry.

And so you're gonna miss out a lot of the connections. In terms of ideas that come when you listen to what's happening in different industries and those fresh set of eyes, that people who are CEOs and entrepreneurs in other industries have when they look at yours. They ask a lot of questions and a lot of what ifs that people who are very adverse in your industry are not asking themselves because of course they're seeing what's working in their industry.

And by just simply asking those questions, you sometimes say I hadn't thought of that. And I hadn't thought of that. And it really expands your mind. And sometimes it's not the way they ask you questions, but just what they share is working for them and the wins they are getting in their companies gets you thinking, oh my goodness, what if I did that?

And the examples I can give are endless of how I learned from our members as I sit through some of our meetings, cause of course I'm facilitating the first seven peer boards of our community and it's been such a rewarding experience for me to be surrounded by such great entrepreneurs.

But the other thing that's really interesting and it goes at a deeper level. It has to do with the loneliness at the top that you refer to before, is that when you hire people to be in your board, and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, I certainly did that in the past with some of my companies and there's an efficiency to it.

And sometimes you do get the right expertise in, and I would always encourage somebody who has a board of directors to hire a high-level experienced board member who does bring in a great intellectual caliber. But the problem is, of course, you're paying that person. And the moment you stop paying that goes away, this is not a relationship based on a deep, emotional care for one another, like what is built in CEO, peer groups. In our groups, people become friends with each other. People come to understand that the base of the relationship is this give and take of, I help you succeed. And I know you're gonna do the same for me. And so we're both invested in coming up with connections that are useful for somebody for the other person, ideas, resources, and we're looking out for anything we read in the paper that we think, oh, this would be very important for me to share with this person, my group. You're always thinking about somebody else other than yourself. And this selflessness that comes up in these groups makes us just feel better about how we're contributing to others.

And it makes it different when somebody's telling you. Something they thought of for you, that it's coming from a place of, I really want you to succeed. I want you to help. And that's because I care about you and that's different from, I want you to succeed because I want to keep this job for a while longer, or I want to get paid more to be in your board, which is more transactional.

So it just compliments what you already have with your team, which are relationships of, I am paying you. And that's why you're working for us. However much you enjoy working here if I wasn't paying you, you would leave. cause you'd have to go get paid somewhere else. That's a beautiful and a very important element that takes you out of that loneliness of being at the top.

[00:39:56] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Leo, I would add to that, everything that you've said, and there's always a huge difference when you have a hired gun versus someone who wants to pay forward for the sake of paying it forward. And unlike a hired gun, if I'm not on your payroll, you can't really do anything to me from a career perspective or a company perspective.

I'm more likely to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly. So you're not gonna be the emperor with no clothes because I've got nothing to lose either way. You know, I wanna see you succeed. I wanna see you help. I'm gonna give you really insights that you might not be hearing anywhere else. And it just all goes back to don't do it on your own. You don't have to be lonely at the top. And you know, the other thing to revisit, and unfortunately we're gonna have to start to wrap up this episode, but we can just you know, go on and on what you've done is you've taken the pain and the heartache financially outta the equation, because really for the return on investment. Correct me if I'm wrong and I don't believe I am wrong. I'm gonna say the ROI with Leading Peers is your first meeting. And then boom, the rest of the year, it's a bonus because of the access that you're getting to quality business owners and entrepreneurs and the success that's in that room to do all of that with how you're currently charging and maybe coming outta this, everyone's gonna be Jeffrey. Don't say it. Don't say it, but I'm gonna say it. Who knows, maybe there's even gonna be some price increases now that you've proven yourself and you just keep on growing and getting out there. But to me, it's a no-brainer and it doesn't get any better than that.

[00:41:19] Leo Popik: Yeah, Jeffrey. So we launched two years ago in 2020 with a price of $250 a month. And that's said there's no enrollment fee. There's no pay the first year in advance kind of thing. You just pay month to month and you can leave any time without any penalty. Only after two years, we're finally increasing our price.

Of course, high inflation is one of the reasons. And also the new services we've added to the membership and starting August 1st, it will be two 80 a month and we're gonna keep it there for a full year. If you annualize that you're at $3,360 and you pay it as you go, you don't even have to pay that in one lump sum and you can stop paying if it's not working for you.

So like you said, it is a no-brainer on so many levels. If you were to go out and hire seven people, plus somebody to run your sounding board for you, to have high-caliber people, the least you'd have to pay them is $30,000 a year. You'd be talking about $240,000. Now think if you could get that for about 1% of the investment, and at the same time, you're getting people who like we were saying before gonna take you out of that feeling of loneliness or who are willing to tell you, I love what you said before. I couldn't agree more in our meetings. People are willing to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly, because they're not getting paid. And so they really don't stand to lose anything as long as they're telling it to you from place of respect and care.

They're not gonna lose your friendship. They're not gonna lose their respective of other people in the group. So I've actually heard people in our meetings say, don't do that because you're doing that out of greed you know? and could you imagine if somebody was a paid Advisor, would they tell the CEO don't do that?

cause you're doing that out of greed? You probably would sugarcoat things. You would worry about the ego of the CEO. And that's the beauty of what you get in our groups, without anybody attacking, but in a respectful way, we are looking out for each other. And if something like an opportunity really falls outside the realm of what you're passionate about, what your purpose is, or what your resources allow you to take on in the, in a particular given moment, people will tell you, I don't think that this is the right move.

You've got so many better opportunities to focus on. And here's where I think you would better spend that time or that focus.

[00:43:27] Jeffrey Feldberg: Leo well said, and again, we can just go on and on reluctantly, we're gonna change gears here and for nostalgia's sake, because you've answered this question before. However, we have a tradition here on the Deep Wealth Sell My Business Podcast, where every guest asked that thought experiment.

So let me launch into that. And maybe it's the same answer that you had on your other episode. Maybe it's a different one. Let's see where that goes, but you've just been full of some terrific wisdom and insights today. I'm looking forward to your answer.

So as think of the movie Back to the Future and in the movie, you have that magical DeLorean car that will take you to any point in time. Now here's the fun part. It's tomorrow morning, Leo, you look outside your window, and there it is. The DeLorean car is not only sitting their curbside. The door is open, waiting for you to hop on in. So you can now go to any point in your life, Leo, as a young child or a teenager, whatever point in time it would be. You can tell your younger self anything from, hey, here's some life wisdom or here's some lessons learned or, hey Leo, please do this, but don't do that. What does that sound like for you?

[00:44:31] Leo Popik: It's such a hard question, Jeffrey, and I don't even remember what I answered the first time around, but I would definitely caution myself as I went back to think a little bit more about how different the world was going to be in the future than it was at that moment.

And I'll give you an example of how this applies. So when I was finishing my master's at Harvard, back in 1997, I actually chose to go back to Argentina, which is where my parents and my sisters, and my brother were based. And I said, let's go back to home and help the country. And I got involved in politics and public service for six to eight years.

Six full time and then a couple others as I started my entrepreneurial journey quitting politics, but that made sense in a pre-internet world where being away from my family or being so far apart just didn't make sense. But if I thought a little bit more about how the world was getting interconnected, I don't think I would've gone back.

I think I would've stayed in the US at that point. And I probably, at that point would've jumped into business and would've had a head start because the only reason I think I really went into public policy at that point was cuz I really wanted to fix a country that I didn't think was going in the right direction if I'd stayed in the US.

You know, I think I would've been pretty happy overall with the shape of the country and the institutions and the culture. and I would've thought a little bit more deeply about how I can best use my attributes, my qualities, my gifts, my talents, and my passions. And I would probably have become an entrepreneur a lot earlier in life.

So, you know, I would probably tell myself, think a little bit more about the new realities. I remember that book by Peter Drucker in 1990, The New Realities, and I was reading that, that kind of stuff, but I don't think I was thinking far enough ahead. So don't stop thinking about tomorrow would probably be something I would tell myself.

[00:46:16] Jeffrey Feldberg: Terrific advice. And you know what the theme that I'm seeing here is you're always looking to pay it forward. Back in the day. When you put yourself into public policy to today, you're paying it forward with Leading Peers. It's a wonderful attribute and a theme to have for your life, Leo. So congratulations with that. Now, Leo, all of this is gonna be in the show notes. So for listeners, it'll be really an easy point and click. If someone would like to learn more about Leading Peers or they even wanna get in touch with you, Leo, what would be the best way to do that?

[00:46:43] Leo Popik: Jeffrey the best way is to just go to our website. It is So for those who may not be sure what that looks like leading as in you are leading a company and peers and plural, you are peers amongst yourself. So when you go there, there is a contact us page, and that's the easiest way to make sure that we get your email.

I actually do look through the emails that are coming in we are still at a point where I can look at them one by one, but the other thing is you can also apply straight from our website. If you look at the membership tab, you will see the application form and you can fill it out.

And if you are in a desktop, it takes no more than five minutes to fill out the application form. So do not get discouraged that this is a long process that you don't have the time for it. It's just five minutes and you don't have to pay anything while you're applying. You will first be told if your application was approved.

And the beauty of our application, Jeffrey is this is not an elitist club. For those who are well connected. If you meet the membership criteria you're in and if you don't, you're not, but it's based on very clear membership criteria. You have to be the CEO. Now, if your job title is president or managing partner, but you are the main decision maker.

That is fine. You will definitely be asked a question after you send your application about, do you have ultimate responsibility for your company's entire P&L if you say, yes, you are for all practical purposes, the CEO, and you will have to put your revenue for the last 12 consecutive months.

Now, some people have sold their company five months ago and they say well, but I currently don't have anything. Just tell us what it was in the last 12 months. It could be that. Last year you were doing $2 million, so we'll take you on board. Even if the last five months you've been figuring out a new game or a new company.

So think about, do I meet these criteria? If the answer is yes, we are going to accept you. We're gonna be thrilled that you applied. You'll get an email within one or two business days at most. And at that point, you'll have a payment link to submit your first payment and you'll never make a payment without speaking to us first, we're always gonna have a conversation, make sure that everything that is in our website, all the information out there has really been understood so that you know why you're applying.

And it really aligns with our purpose to help CEOs succeed so that the people and businesses they serve prosper.

[00:49:04] Jeffrey Feldberg: Words to the wise and right from the trenches, it doesn't get any better. And for our listeners take Leo up on his offer, you know what, whether you're already in an existing CEO-peer group, if you're not give them a try, see what can go on. Everything that Leo has shared today is number one, making such a big difference out there. And it's just different from what's there.

So Leo, on that note heartfelt thank you for taking part of your day and spending with us here on the Deep Wealth Sell My Business Podcast, and as always. Please stay healthy and safe.

[00:49:32] Leo Popik: Thanks a million for having me, Jeffrey. It's an honor to work with you, to collaborate with you, and look forward to hearing from any of your listeners, if anybody out there contacts us, make sure to let us know that you heard me in Jeffrey Feldberg's podcast, that goes a long way to making sure that we know just how well informed and how driven you are to do well in business and in life.

[00:49:54] Jeffrey Feldberg: Terrific, Thank you so much, Leo.

[00:49:56] Leo Popik: Have a great afternoon, Jeffrey.

[00:49:57] Sharon S.: The Deep Wealth Experience was definitely a game-changer for me.

[00:50:01] Lyn M.: This course is one of the best investments you will ever make because you will get an ROI of a hundred times that. Anybody who doesn't go through it will lose millions.

[00:50:11] Kam H.: If you don't have time for this program, you'll never have time for a successful liquidity

[00:50:15] Sharon S.: It was the best value of any business course I've ever taken. The money was very well spent.

[00:50:22] Lyn M.: Compared to when we first began, today I feel better prepared, but in some respects, may be less prepared, not because of the course, but because the course brought to light so many things that I thought we were on top of that we need to fix.

[00:50:37] Kam H.: I 100% believe there's never a great time for a business owner to allocate extra hours into his or her week or day. So it's an investment that will yield results today. I thought I will reap the benefit of this program in three to five years down the road. But as soon as I stepped forward into the program, my mind changed immediately.

[00:50:59] Sharon S.: There was so much value in the experience that the time I invested paid back so much for the energy that was expended.

[00:51:10] Lyn M.: The Deep Wealth Experience compared to other programs is the top. What we learned is very practical. Sometimes you learn stuff that it's great to learn, but you never use it. The stuff we learned from Deep Wealth Experience, I believe it's going to benefit us a boatload.

[00:51:23] Kam H.: I've done an executive MBA. I've worked for billion-dollar companies before. I've worked for smaller companies before I started my business. I've been running my business successfully now for getting close to a decade. We're on a growth trajectory. Reflecting back on the Deep Wealth, I knew less than 10% what I know now, maybe close to 1% even.

[00:51:42] Sharon S.: Hands down the best program in which I've ever participated. And we've done a lot of different things over the years. We've been in other mastermind groups, gone to many seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, read books. This was so different. I haven't had an experience that's anything close to this in all the years that we've been at this.

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[00:52:08] Kam H.: I would highly recommend it to any super busy business owner out there.

Deep Wealth is an accurate name for it. This program leads to deeper wealth and happier wealth, not just deeper wealth. I don't think there's a dollar value that could be associated with such an experience and knowledge that could be applied today and forever.

[00:52:27] Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you leaving millions on the table?

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