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April 04, 2006

Peer-to-peer learning for business leaders

When I joined the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization I was surprised to learn that I had to participate in a training session before I could participate in the small group meetings, called Forum. I had participated in a monthly, industry-specific CEO roundtable before, and I was a bit cynical about needing training just to join a meeting of entrepreneurs. It seemed silly.

I was wrong.

I have been involved in YEO for almost a decade now, and consider it one of the best learning experiences of my life. The best part is that the learning is peer-to-peer. While YEO does offer access to some amazing classroom experiences, most of what I learned was from other entrepreneurs, in our Forum meetings.

I learned by hearing others present problems, by presenting my own issues, and from the shared experiences of others around the table. And the unique structure and rules of a Forum meeting made it possible. Forum is safe, confidential, and incredibly productive. Advice is forbidden. In Forum, nobody can give you “the answer,” they can only share their own experience. It is a small but powerful distinction.

YEO is now EO, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Within EO, which serves businesses with over $1 million in sales, YEO is for entrepreneurs under 40, and WEO (World Entrepreneurs’ Organization) for those over 40. There is also YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) and WPO, where the businesses are typically larger and the members lead companies they may not have founded. (It was in YPO that the Forum concept was developed.)

Joining a peer group is a smart move for any business leader. Joining a peer group using the Forum structure is even smarter.

Posted by Bob Pritchett at April 4, 2006 05:00 AM

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