This short post is prompted by two events of sorts: 1) I’ve come across a number of blog posts over the past several weeks that described joining a peer advisory group as “not inexpensive” or “not cheap.” 2) I heard a story recently of a peer advisory group member who was being recognized for ten years of membership. The member (we’ll call him Dave) quipped that the plaque he received for the recognition cost him tens of thousands of dollars. Dave’s fellow member reminded him, however, that it was an investment that earned him millions. It’s among the reasons Dave is embarking on his second decade of membership.
The problem of course is that if you’ve never been part of a peer advisory group, it’s not only hard to imagine the quality of the experience, it’s nearly impossible to predict the magnitude and the range of positive outcomes. From the vantage point of a non-member, all you can see is what you’ll be spending in terms of time and money. The view looks far different from the perspective of a peer advisory group member who has made the investments of time and money, and has the luxury of basking in the exponential return on that investment. I’ve heard CEOs credit their peer advisory group for everything from helping take their businesses to the next level and guiding them in making key personnel decisions to saving marriages and putting balance back in their lives.
Doris Kearns Goodwin tells a story of attending a seminar led by famed developmental psychologist Erik Erikson. According to Goodwin, Erikson said, The richest and fullest lives attempt to achieve an inner balance between three realms: work, love, and play. And that to pursue one realm to the disregard of the others is to open oneself to ultimate sadness in older age. Whereas to pursue all three with equal dedication is to make possible a life full not only with achievement, but with serenity.”
I can’t think of a more eloquent description of what so many CEOs and business leaders have expressed about the value they derive from their peer advisory group experience. The non-member looks at cost (time and money); the peer advisory group member sees something priceless. It’s why the cost of joining is far less expensive than the cost of not trying it.