I am big on peer networking. I have been a member of Vistage for a LONG time. Recently, my friend David Hassell talked to me about another organization called Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO). I met David recently and talked to him about EO and the EO Global Leadership Event on May 8. Here are his responses to my questions.
If you qualify to be a member, I encourage you to reach out to David and make it a point to attend the event. I am confident that you will enjoy it.
David Hassell is Membership Chair on the Board of the San Francisco chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
RS: David, so tell us a little about EO.
DH: Enterpreneurs’ Oraganization (EO) is a global network of nearly 7,000 business owners in 38 countries. Founded over 20 years ago as YEO (Young Entrepreneurs Organization), EO is a peer network whose purpose is to enable entrepreneurs to learn and grow through peer interactions, and ultimately achieving greater success in business and enriched personal lives.
RS: How did you get involved in the organization?
DH: In 1999, a year after graduating from college, I co-founded an Internet marketing firm in NYC, Endai Worldwide. We managed to survive through some tough times during the downturn, but come by 2003 we had stagnated. As first-time business owners, we didn’t know quite how to take things to the next level. My business partner and I both joined EO (called YEO back then) so that we could connect with others who had either already been through what we were experiencing or who were in similar situations. Over the next three years, we tripled our revenues and were recognized on the Inc. 5000 last of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. I attribute a large part of our ability to grow to the learning and peer support we received as members, and now volunteer as a member-leader as a way to give back to the organization.
RS: So what do you think is so important about peer networking?
DH: Many entrepreneurs suffer from being stuck in their own knowledge. They simply don’t know what they don’t know. Furthermore, most of the people they’re surrounded with – employees, friends, and relatives — don’t have any idea what they are going through and what they’re concerned with as business owners and entrepreneurs. Peer networking provides the opportunity for entrepreneurs and business owners to find others who understand what they’re going through, provide support for learning how to both improve their competence, and also be better prepared to deal with crises as they inevitably arise. Ultimately this leads to learning how to be more effective and live a more balanced business and personal life.
RS: What do you actually do as members?
DH: On the local chapter level, we do two things. First, we hold monthly learning and network events that are open to all members of the chapter. Typically this includes cocktails, dinner and a guest speaker, or some sort of exclusive access event. For example, last month our chapter was given a tour of Doris and Don Fishers’s extensive private art collection housed in The Gap headquarters, followed by a wine tasting with a well-known sommelier at Shanghai 1930 in San Francisco, and a talk by the former co-CEO of McKesson, David Mahoney on philanthropy and social entrepreneurship.
Second, we facilitate EO Forums. A Forum is comprised of between 8 and 10 business owners who meet on a monthly basis to discuss specific issues members are facing in their businesses, and sometime their personal lives. Members provide feedback about similar situations they’ve dealt with in the past, what they did to address it, and what the outcome was. In this way, rather than giving advice, members learn from each others’ experiences and are better equipped to act effectively in their own situations. Many members equate this to having their own personal board of advisors, and rate this as the single-most valuable aspect of membership in EO.
In addition to local events and Forums, the EO Global organization facilitates education and networking conferences called EO Universities that typically take place twice per year in the US, and twice per year Internationally. These Universities provide access to some of the top speakers in business, as well as opportunities to network with some of the most engaged and successful CEOs in the organization.
RS: How do you become a member if interested?
DH: Membership is typically by invitation only, and mainly through referrals from other members. Our membership criteria is:
• You must be the Founder, Co-Founder, or Controlling Shareholder,
• Of a business entity that generates $1MM or more in annual sales,
• And join before your 50th birthday
On May 8 EO is holding its Global Leadership Conference, where the board members from chapters all over the world will be converging at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco for a summit on how to maintain and increase the value of the organization. The San Francisco chapter will be inviting a limited number of prospective members to join them for cocktails and the keynote session with Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, followed by dinner and networking with members of the San Francisco EO chapter and Board members of other chapters from around the world.
If you are qualified, located in the Bay Area and interested in joining us for the May 8 event, send an email to dhassell (at) sfeo.net by May 1.
For more information, view the invite (PDF) here: