When you put 50 highly successful entrepreneurs and CEOs in one room for two days, good things are going to happen.
The second annual CEO Coaching International Summit held in Newport Beach, CA brought together entrepreneurs and CEOs from all over the world for two days of learning, sharing, and networking.
Organized like a TED event, speakers cut to the chase and delivered insightful remarks gleaned from their years of “in the trenches” experience.
Here are 5 key takeaways you can benefit from right now.
1 – The sexiness of your business doesn’t matter if you have a low functioning management team. (Don Schiavone, CEO Grasshopper)
Take a look at your key employees and ask yourself, are they all “A” players? If not, you have a problem. No business, no matter how sexy or how sweet of a spot it’s in, can thrive with a weak management team.
To a person, the attendees agreed: an average idea with an excellent team will run circles around an excellent idea with an average team.
Action: Assess your team. If you have any weak players, make the tough—but humane—decision to replace them with an “A” player. Remember, hire slowly but fire quickly.
2. Key people on your team should be able to pass the, “Would I spend a day in a canoe with this person” test. (Nathan Mersereau, CEO, Planning Alternatives)
Whether you’re acquiring a firm, adding a new executive, or vetting a key vendor, all should be able to pass the “canoe” test.
The test is very simple. As you’re assessing the potential relationship, ask yourself, “Would I want to spend a day in a canoe with this person?”
The question is critical because even though technology is ubiquitous, the human relationship is still paramount. If you don’t want to spend a day in a canoe with the person, then pass and move on to the next candidate.
Action: Incorporate the “canoe” test in your acquiring, hiring, and vendor vetting processes.
3. Power in leadership comes from the punctuation mark you use. (Sheldon Harris, Coach at CEO Coaching International)
As a leader, do most of your sentences end in an exclamation point, a period, or a question mark?
The most powerful leaders focus on asking great questions.
The question mark is the most powerful punctuation you can use because it creates an environment that is very collaborative and participatory in bringing the best out of employees.
Your team doesn’t want to be told what to do. They want to know the broad direction then use their skills to come up with solutions to your penetrating questions.
Action: Ask yourself, “What percentage of my statements as a leader over past week ended in a question mark?” Going forward, focus on asking more penetrating questions instead of making declarative statements.
4. Don’t compete in price wars. Compete in experience wars. (John DiJulius III, Chief Revolution Officer, The DiJulius Group)
Rather than cut the price to stimulate more business, ramp up the experience. As John DiJulius said, “The better the experience, the less price becomes an issue.”
Consider Starbucks. The coffee is average but they charge a premium price. How do they get away with it? By creating a pleasing, soothing, relaxing experience that makes customers willing to pay for this “small” indulgence.
Action: Determine how to add more “experience” to your product or service.
5. Everyone’s connected, everyone’s vulnerable, but you can take some concrete steps to secure your digital space. (Marc Goodman, Founder Future Crimes Institute, faculty member at Singularity University)
It seems like everyday we hear about another computer hack that exposes the president’s emails, snatches millions of credit cards, or exposes compromising pictures of celebrities.
And no doubt, many of you reading this have been the victim of cyber-crime, too.
While cyber-crime is a scary and legitimate concern, Goodman said you can eliminate 85% of the most common digital threats by taking a few simple steps outlined in his UPDATE Protocol. It’s the equivalent of locking the front door and not leaving the keys in the car.
Action: Implement the UPDATE Protocol developed by Goodman. Click here to access it for free.
The five takeaways above are concrete, actionable items you can start working on right now.
Two Bonus Ideas
I want to share two more items that relate to how we structured the meeting to make it worthwhile for people to travel all the way from Australia and England to attend.
Let’s face it, most business meetings are boring. Speakers drone on using PowerPoint and attendees have to suffer through waiting for the lunch and dinner break.
Not so at our Summit event.
We did two things in particular that kept the meeting snappy and effective for the attendees.
1. Half of the event was organized like a TED event.
Speakers were limited to18 minutes and they had to get to their point—quickly.
No dry PowerPoints, just the essence of their message distilled to actionable ideas.
2. We capped the meeting with a “Needs and Leads” session.
Led by attendee Rob Follows, founder of investment bank STS Capital Partners, Needs and Leads leveraged the network of each attendee for the benefit of all.
Here’s how it works. Sitting in a big circle, each person had 30 seconds to present their business need. As moderator, Rob asked clarifying questions to ensure we were all clear on what the “need” was.
Then, for the next 2.5 minutes, we went around the circle and each attendee had an opportunity to share any leads, input, or ideas they had to solve the need. The exchanges were documented in each attendee’s respective Needs and Leads sheet as well as by the designated scribe.
Rob closed the session by asking each person to follow up within 48 hours on the “lead” they shared to ensure the talk turned into results.
This is a powerful exercise to formalize the “networking” part of a meeting and jumpstart the network effect. Try it at your next meeting.
Plans are already underway for next year’s Summit. Be sure to subscribe to our blog updates so you stay updated on new posts, podcasts, and events.
Mark Moses is Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International.