Why did I join Vistage back in 1991? That is an easy question to answer.
I was a software engineer since companies paid me to program their computers. I was a CEO because I filed some documents with the State of California. Being a CEO by title, but not knowing how to be a CEO is a pretty stupid thing to do. Then again, I think it is important that CEOs are willing to try things when they don’t fully understand the facts.
Back to why I joined… Since I was a CEO just on paper, I needed to learn and I need to learn not generically, but specifically. Vistage (or TEC at the time) was a great organization for executive leadership, training, mentoring and coaching in San Diego. In fact, Vistage is a worldwide executive leadership, training, mentoring and coaching organization.
The first Vistage meeting I went to after joining had Will Phillips as a speaker. Will was and still is a very wise man. I will never forget one of his lessons. If things are failing in your organization, don’t look at the people first. Look at your process. If you a team of the best basketball players in the world and you have a terrible playbook or a lack of teamwork, you will lose. Fix the playbook and create teamwork, and you can be world champions. Not to mix sports in my metaphors, but was that not the Cinderella story of the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team?
For the next 12 years, I went to Vistage meetings and learned. I learned what I was doing right. I learned what I was doing wrong. I practiced. I redid the playbook and practiced again. I am not so sure I ever created the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team at Stellcom, but I certainly never gave up trying.