Listening to a recent Tim Ferris podcast, Tim was interviewing Adam Grant and asking him about his success, which is impressive. Adam said that he used Challenger Groups for success. According to Grant, “Your challenge network should be the people who will tell you that you’re not quite where you need to be. These are the people that will push you because they care about helping you get better.” Also, “So if in the last six months somebody has given you really harsh feedback, you’ve probably done everything in your power to drop them from your life. In the short run, that might feel good, it might help with your motivation, but it destroys your opportunity to learn. I think we all need to embrace that challenge network if we want to reach our potential.”

Reflecting on this, (Apologies for unabashed self-promotion as I run Vistage groups), that is what a Vistage group does. As I tell prospective members, we are here to:

  • Challenge your assumptions

  • Prevent your hubris

  • Provide advice; and

  • Have carefrontational conversations – we will tell you, your baby is ugly.

The group is not dependent upon you for a paycheck, or income, or anything other than to know you will help them if they help you. Many prospects tell me, I don’t need such a group, I have friends, a board, customers, or father/father-in-law who does this. However, let’s examine these groups.



Our friends are our Cheerleaders and Supporters. They help us when we are down and tell us how wonderful we are. They are unlikely to have carefrontational conversations with us. If they keep telling us that our baby is ugly and our ideas are wrong, the friendship will not last.



Really!! You will tell your customers that your largest customer has just declared bankruptcy, and you are not sure you have enough cash to last a week! Or, that your product is failing and you are considering the following three plans to fix it, which do they like?


Your Board

Your board is the right place, but how often do you meet, and how often can you go to them. Also, can you go to them when you don’t know? Can you bring a personal crisis to them? If you are having a personal crisis as a member did where his wife gave him an ultimatum on their marriage, you know he was not focused on his business, but need a place to talk this through.


Your Father/Father-in-Law

Well, one issue you can’t bring to your father or father-in-law is that you want to fire or get rid of him. A couple of other areas that may be difficult are:

  • What if you want a divorce?

  • What to do about getting rid of your sibling?

  • What about killing off the division, product, they started?


So where to?

Find a group of people that have no reliance on your for a paycheck or income, and who will help you if you help them, but will challenge you and enter into those confrontational conversations when needed. If not Vistage, then some similar group, but one that will do the above, as Vistage members on average outperform their non-Vistage peers by 2.2x revenue growth, and higher profit margins.


© 2019 Marc Borrelli All Rights Reserved

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