Washington DC Peer Advisory Groups

Lessons of a Vistage Chair – The Value of Vistage

I learned more in the 7 years I was a Vistage Chair then I learned in my 30+ prior years as an entrepreneur. That’s the Value of Vistage. I went through a grueling interview and selection process… more Value of Vistage. Vistage afforded me world-class training… more Value of Vistage. And ultimately the greatest benefit was seeing first hand what happens when a group of executives sit in a safe, non-judgmental space together to:

Vistage taught me how to curate and select members in order to form a cohesive group of business leaders that give and get equally from the group. I was taught multiple methodologies to effectively process issues. Vistage taught me to run a meeting that provided maximum benefit to all our members. That was the value of Vistage.

The most significant lesson I learned while working as a Vistage Chair was the corrosive effect of Private Equity on the values of a business.

When Vistage was privately owned, it’s growth was fueled by the organic word of mouth growth of devoted Vistage members. The business model was simple, take care of the chairs, train them in the art of chairing and coaching to provide the best product to the members, and the business of will thrive. It was simple. It was powerful and members benefited.

When Vistage was purchased by private equity… I felt it lost its way. I felt the mission became more like the Amway of Peer Advisory Groups. The business model changed from an emphasis on careful coach selection and training in the art of coaching and chairing to the business of chairing. Vistage devolved from growing business by providing the best possible product to recruiting and throwing against the wall as many chairs as possible. Training emphasis changed from creating the best coaches to creating the best salespeople. It started to feel like a network marketing pyramid scheme. Amway!

The unintentional lesson I learned from being a Vistage Chair, the real Value of Vistage for me was that the quality of the product was more important than the quality of the salesforce. I resigned from Vistage. Most chairs find this difficult to do because they have to sit out a non-compete period. I sat out my non-compete then hung up a shingle to build a better Vistage-like experience that I call the Driven Forward ThinkTank.

Vistage charged members on average $1,300 a month for a fixed price menu of services.  Many of these services drive up the cost while providing little value.

  • Speakers – speakers are paid to speak and reimbursed for airfare and hotel – many of my members would skip the speaker sessions
  • Coaching – monthly one on ones with the chair – whether member felt like they required a one on one or not
  • Private Intranet – with less information then available on the internet and a simple google search
  • Highly Paid C-Level Executives – they look good in suits
  • Vistage Marketing and Administration – expensive services that provide no value to members and little value to chairs

What resulting is, I took home an average of $600 per member.  When I hung out my shingle, I redesigned an ala carte menu that was better for me and my members and I kept all the revenue minus expenses.

The Value of ThinkTank vs. the Value of Vistage

  ThinkTank Vistage Comment
Initiation Fee $0 $1,800 Non-refundable
Monthly Membership $500 $1,300
Meeting Length 4 1/2 hours 8 hours See Comment below
Maximum Members 12 18
MIn-Person Person Coaching Optional Included $150 online/$250 in person

*Vistage Meetings consist of 4 hours of speaker sessions and 4 hours of issue processing.

I’m a former Vistage Chair and I run peer-advisory-groups and coach business executives. I help people who run businesses to figure out what to do and hold them accountable to do it. If you are investigating peer-advisory groups like Vistage, The Alternative Board (TAB) or Renaissance Executive Forums, check me out.

If you’d like to see what a coaching session is like or to discuss and apply to sit in on one of my CEO Peer Advisory Groups, press that little red button down there and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation, online coaching session today.