The old adage, “no man is an island” eloquently captures the reality that human beings need to be part of a community in order to thrive.
Similarly, no entrepreneur, CEO, let alone anyone in business, is (or should be) an island. No matter how talented, intelligent or determined an individual is, it is impossible for successful learning and growth to happen without the support and camaraderie of others.
During my journey to build Growth Institute, I have learned how to execute from some of the best thought leaders of the industry whose ideas propelled me forward. Over the past 20 years, I have also immersed myself in a learning environment of peers and masterminds. This peer-to-peer learning has been just as crucial as learning from thought leaders because it allowed me to put theory into practice, accelerate my learning, and develop skills to succeed in business.
Here’s a glimpse into my journey of learning in peer groups and masterminds, and how it helped me grow to succeed as a person and in business.
Experiencing The Value Of Peer-to-Peer Learning
Did you know that the two biggest CEO networks in the world, Entrepreneurs Organization and Young Presidents Organization, both rely on peer networks? That shows you the sheer power of peer-to-peer learning. You never really understand the true value of peer-to-peer learning until you’ve experienced it for yourself. The concept of paying to be in a group of peers may not make sense to a lot of people at first, and it certainly sounded crazy to me when I first heard of it.
I was running one of my first businesses after college, a company I had co-founded with three others. We were building one of the first financial websites for Mexico. One of my employees came to me and said, “Hey, my husband's an entrepreneur. He's a member of this organization, YEO (now known as Entrepreneurs Organization). Do you want to join?”
It sounded interesting. “Yes, yes, invite me,” I replied, without really understanding the importance. At the first Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) event, they told me: “We build these mastermind groups of eight people called a forum. The thing you're going to enjoy the most at these forums is you’re going to help someone else fix their problems. And you're going to pay $5,000 for that.”
It didn’t make sense to me at first. I remember thinking, “So I pay $5,000 a year to go to a 5-hour meeting once a month to fix someone else's problems. Are you crazy?”
It does sound crazy, doesn’t it? But I am so thankful I signed up and the forum has become my rock. You see, being an entrepreneur is a very lonely position. You always have to be right, be positive, and have a solution. And it’s heavy to feel like you have to carry everything on your own.
At the time I joined EO I was having a lot of issues with one of the co-founders of my company. I felt isolated, and that's when I truly understood the value of peer-to-peer learning and support. At the next meeting, I told them the problems I was experiencing and someone said, “Why don't you fire the co-founder?"
I was baffled. I didn’t understand how I could fire a co-founder who started the company with me. They said, “Yes, but you're the CEO. You have to act as a CEO. You're a co-founder, he's a co-founder, but everyone chose you to be CEO and you need to do the right thing by making the best decisions for the company. A co-founder can own stock in the company, but that doesn't mean they have to work in the company.”
I would never have thought of this solution on my own. Especially since having been an employee before, I didn’t really understand that my role as CEO was to do the right thing. I followed through on their advice and things got better for the company.
Having experienced the power of peer-to-peer learning, forums remain part of my weekly routine in both personal and professional areas of my life. Today I’m in a business forum, a family forum on being a better husband and father, and a forum on internet marketing in Spanish.
The Birthing Of Giants
I was introduced to the Birthing of Giants (BOG) program 18 years ago when I join EO. This program and group have been so significant to me that I have been a member of EO for the last 18 years and still go back to BOG (or its continuation, Gathering Of Titans - GOT) for the last 17 years. Being part of EO, BOG & GOT has been a significant part of my learning and growth for all my businesses, and pivotal in bringing Growth Institute to where it is today.
At first, joining BOG was intimidating. Here I was in a room with about 70 other entrepreneurs who were all very successful. Many were probably achieving 10 or 50 times the revenue I was bringing in. I felt very small.
However, by being in BOG, I realized the value that no other book, teacher, or coach can give. And that is sharing and supporting each other through your struggles, doubts, and insecurity.
Only another peer can turn around and say, “Hey, are you waking up in the middle of the night sweating, cold? Me too. Are you having trouble with your family because you're working 20 hours a day? Me too. Here’s how I dealt with it.”
I remember one session at BOG, we were each simply sharing stories of how we pulled through the lowest point in our own companies. The point where we thought, “That’s it. My company is gone”. And how we then managed to turn it around.
The session started at 8pm and finished around 3 or 4am. It was powerful. I cried probably 30 or 40 times. I could relate to them because I was one of them. There’s a lot of things that only a peer who has gone through the same experiences can help you through.
It is through these powerful experiences that have made me a huge fan of peer learning. I've been immersed in peer learning for 20 years since I first learned about it, and there's nothing I enjoy more today.
Learning & Growing Together Through The Ups & Downs Of Business
Learning plays such a fundamental role when it comes to scaling your business. I really believe the future of learning consists of two parts. The first is learning the methodologies of the best of leaders. The second is having a platform where peers can help each other learn and implement the methodology.
A community of peers helping each other implement the best methodologies can create impact in one’s life, one’s company, and one’s community. I have experienced the kind of impact peer-to-peer learning can have for myself, particularly when it comes to networking and growing my business.
And sometimes, the journey of learning and growing include closing doors that no longer serve you. I remember being faced with an inevitable decision to close my company. We were going to lose all our capital. I had to go to my investors and break the bad news. I needed to prepare a presentation to my investors.
Where on earth can you go for support in that? With whom can you practice delivering the most nerve-wracking presentation you need to give to your investors? The answer is your peers who have experienced or can relate to the same things you are experiencing.
So I turned to my peer network of CEOs. I met them at a restaurant on a weeknight. I explained why I thought we need to close the company, and they helped me organize my pitch from what I should say to what should be omitted. Together, they helped me craft and practice the delivery of the right presentation to my investors.
A week later, I presented to my investors and it was the smoothest closing of a company I've ever seen. No one made demands, no one shouted. At the end everyone said, “Daniel, you did your best. It's time to close the company.” We shook hands and that was it.
Without the peer support of other CEOs, I would have struggled with my confidence and struggled to put together a presentation that resulted in such a smooth closing. Having peers to support me through the ups and downs of business has certainly been a key factor in helping me continuously grow as a business while expanding my networks.
Join the Future of Learning
If you’re ready to take your business further and succeed, I invite you to join the future of learning by joining Business Growth Lab — a series of free webinars about business topics with top business experts and thought leaders, while being immersed in a community of peers to support your learning and growth.
During your journey with us you will learn about new opportunities about scaling your business, developing processes and finding best ways to win new markets.
Subscribe to Business Growth Lab for free << here >>