As I mentioned last week, I traveled to the Vistage Colorado All-City event in Denver to join Vistage Chairs, members, and their guests from peer advisory groups all over Colorado for a super-peer group experience, if you will. Chairs exchanged ideas about how to be even more effective at facilitating their groups and coaching their individual members; members shared stories about their group experiences and how they’ve been navigating economic uncertainty in their own companies; and, prospective new members got a taste of how the peer advisory group experience could be helpful to them and their organizations. What’s more, keynote speakers Kelly McDonald and Debra Fine provided additional food for thought and spirited conversation.
On my plane ride to Denver, I finished the book by Simon Sinek, Start With Why. (You may be familiar with Simon from his very popular TEDX Talk delivered in 2009). The video does not replace the book by any means, but it certainly offers a preview of coming attractions and should inspire you to buy the book once you’ve seen it. I don’t know about you, but more often than not, the book I’m reading at the moment, whatever it may be, always has uncanny relevance to what I’m about to experience. It’s as if I’m reading this book so I can gain insights that help me better understand what’s to come. A more logical explanation, however, would be that it’s just Laura Goodrich’s Seeing Red Cars axiom in action. Meaning: “You get more of whatever you focus on.” Since I suppose I was focused on people’s “why,” I received a full dose of why accomplished former CEOs take on a second career as Vistage Chairs; why so many business leaders became peer advisory group members 5-10 and even 20 years ago; and, why guests at the event were thinking of joining a peer advisory group. The common thread is simple: None of these people do what they do as a result of comparing features and benefits, or lists of pros and cons. It’s not a singularly rational process that’s simply informed by words. . They do what they do because they have a specific purpose – a real “why.” It’s not about what they think, it’s about how they feel. The words simply serve to justify those feelings.
Start With Why isn’t just another book about finding purpose and meaning in our lives; it explores how our limbic brain and neocortex work together to make meaningful decisions. As Sinek espouses, we aren’t loyal to companies because of what they make, we’re loyal because of why they make it. It was amazing to be among so many impressive Colorado leaders who are part of the Vistage community in one way or another and see that they are involved because Vistage believes what they believe. And because they so strongly identify with its purpose, they are a fiercely loyal community who share myriad currencies and reap incalculable benefits.