I started Arment Dietrich in April of 2005, with the vision of growing it into a global public relations firm, but without any real idea what that meant or how I would achieve it. Then I met a man at a networking event who explained to me he was a coach through Vistage International and so began my business education.
During my first meeting, the CEO of a very large, multi-billion dollar, utility company discussed the issue of cash flow and how he wanted to use the group to help him find new and different ways for funding growth. I remember, as if it were yesterday, thinking, “WAIT! The bank will LOAN you money to cover expenses each month until we can collect on invoices past due?”
Since then, I’ve become much more sophisticated, claiming that my Vistage experience is my real-life MBA. I can read a balance sheet, I understand what happens when a company goes bankrupt, I have watched unions form and disband within fellow member companies, and I’ve learned new ways to market and communicate, even though it’s my trade. While I am a communication expert, I also have become a business owner and leader. And I credit my business savvy to Vistage.
Using the social networks, I’ve met fellow members across the country, in Canada, and the U.K. It’s almost like a secret fraternity – if you’re a Vistage member, you instantly know you can trust that person because they not only are bound by confidentiality, they are facing the same challenges you face daily. My Vistage experience grows beyond just my group and the monthly meetings.
Just like everyone, the recession hit us really hard and early last year I had to make some decisions that were personally devastating to me (I tend to become too emotionally involved with employees). But my group not only helped me make those decisions, they helped me change our business model in January this year, in order for me to realize our “blue ocean.”
So, while I still have the vision to become a global company, the idea of what it looks like, and how we get there, has changed. The relationships I have with my fellow Vistage members has helped me clarify it so well in my own head, that I have complete focus toward growth.
It’s exciting that Vistage has launched this blog. Not only to provide you invaluable content, but also to help you understand how nearly 16,000 of us worldwide are so impassioned with our experience. I hope you’ll take a look!