I had been a classic entrepreneur for 15 years before I ever discovered the concept of a life team.
Entrepreneurs are often Lone Rangers, Mavericks who have blazed their own trail, and I certainly fit that definition. Even today I’d prefer to stay in, laser focus, and work on the business – than network, socialize, and chat about things that might be considered irrelevant to the core business issues.
Yet it was while I was writing the book Business Ground Rules for two powerful entrepreneurs that I first heard that term “life team”. Tony Jeary and Peter Thomas, who was an owner of Century 21 Real Estate in Canada and one of the founders of one of the largest entrepreneur groups in the world, explained the concept of creating a life team to support your business, and any personal goals before any problems arose.
This concept of a life team is now something that I teach my kids.
I often encourage them to consider; who is on your life team? I post that question on a giant oversized post it note on the wall, and teach the concept year after year to encourage them to build a list of ten or twelve specific people they can go to for critical professional advice, ministry and encouragement.
Your life team is not necessarily your friends or mentors.
When I was first tapped to join Vistage, it was a foreign concept to me. Entering a group of CEOs who would sit around and process issues was uncomfortable at first, and I found myself fidgeting – a lot. It felt like college again, listening without interrupting, sharing without being overzealous or imposing, and providing real concrete solutions that mattered, unselfishly. In Vistage, there’s a chair, who is carefully selected for the role based on character and leadership skills. I had been introduced to Vistage by Josey Parks, a Millennial CEO who had asked me to coach him on a speech. Josey owns one of the largest metal roofing companies in America, among other things.
One of the best things I discovered about Vistage is the art of the team. My group feels more like a band of authentic brothers, all willing to share and grow. No one is a know it all, and no one is unteachable. Everyone respects each other authentically and the chair, Dennis Howard, truly cares for each member of the group. After decades of listening to the largest issues on a leader’s heart – I’ve found that so many are suffering alone. Whether it’s a problem with their spouse, or an issue with the board, they NEED someone like my brothers at Vistage. Every time I’m in a meeting, I find myself thinking of one of those CEOs who poured his heart out to me in a book meeting, wishing he’d connect. Business is about life. And every business leader needs a life team.