The age old saying “it’s lonely at the top” no longer exists for a large group of entrepreneurs and executives in Oklahoma.
As part of a growing trend, CEO’s and senior executives are joining Peer Advisory Groups to help solve complex business issues in their organizations. Owners and executives are feeling the pressure more than ever to solve problems quicker and more cost-effectively.
As part of this growing expectation in the market place, a local Executive Peer Network, The Mettise Group’s Posse and Tribe, has seen substantial growth in the last 18 months. Started over ten years ago with one group of eight members and one facilitator, the Posse and Tribe has grown to include six facilitators and more than 150 members in Oklahoma City, making it the largest executive peer network in the state with new groups continuing to be added each quarter.
Why has this Executive Peer Network seen so much growth, and what makes it unique from other advisory or network groups? After interviews with its members and founder, Gene Hopper, the answers were clear.
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN. The Posse and Tribe executive peer groups were started over ten years ago by Gene Hopper, Founding Partner with The Mettise Group. I was the CEO of a diagnostic company. The company was expanding, and we were courting investors. It was an exciting time yet very challenging. I found myself wishing I had someone to talk to who “got it.” I had been in peer-advisory groups in the past, but they did not offer me exactly what I was looking for. So, I made the decision to begin the Posse and Tribe to help others in my situation and most importantly create a group that “had each other’s back”.
“I had no idea when I started it how many executives had the need to have a group of trusted advisors outside of their business,” said Gene Hopper, Founder, Tribe and Posse. “We have your back,” has remained the cornerstone of the Posse and Tribe over the years and what truly sets the Posse and Tribe apart.
POSSE AND TRIBE UNIQUE MAKEUP. Different from other peer groups, the Posse and Tribe divide up each group based on gender. The Posse is comprised of women leaders while the Tribe is comprised of men leaders in the community. Hopper thought the need for each gender to have their own voice inside their group was important. Hopper believes that men and women often communicate and solve problems differently and she wanted an environment where women could support and build one another up and where men could be vulnerable and transparent with each other. The members agree that there is value in having gender specific groups.
“I’ve been in the Posse for 10 years now and what I value most is the level of trust I have with other business owners and executives in my group. No matter what issue I’m dealing with at the time, whether it’s of a business or personal nature, there is no judgement- only true support, knowing nods, words of encouragement and sound advice. Having these kind, smart, talented and supportive women as my board of advisors has been one of the most valuable assets in my business,” shared Kym Koch Thompson, Principal, Koch Communications.
INSTRUMENTAL VETTING PROCESS. The Posse and Tribes are comprised of 8-10 business leaders that meet monthly. Members are invited to join only after completing a thorough vetting and interview process. The interview process is of high value to the members since the groups are made up of individual whose feedback and connections are substantial. I think there is careful consideration of members’ backgrounds, personalities, experiences, and strengths when creating a Posse or Tribe. This conscious effort to create a cohesive group is very effective because it allows true relationships to be developed and the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of leaders.
“I do not believe that this careful and intentional vetting process is common of other peer advisory groups. It is an essential element of the Mettise groups!” said James Bost, Director of Leadership and Insights, Jones PR
THE FACILITATOR DIFFERENCE. The Posse and Tribe facilitators are members of The Mettise Group, an Oklahoma City based consulting firm. Each of the six facilitators has owned their own business, served on boards and are successful consultants leading entrepreneurs daily. This experience and frame of reference is invaluable to the members of the group.
“I was very impressed that there was a substantial price to be part of the group. As with everything, you get what you pay for. After just one meeting, the value of having a professional consultant as our facilitator at the table as well as a diverse group of business owners was apparent, and I’m looking forward to learning more each month,” said Clint Williams, Co-founder, Clover Partners.
MAKING A PROFOUND IMPACT. The profound impact of being a member of a Posse or Tribe on its members is life-changing and often unexpected in the MBA-style case study format. Members walk away with concrete recommendations and resources immediately applicable to his or her business. The Posse and Tribe is a high value network of individuals that are excited to leverage their connections for others because of the trust and investment in one another’s lives.
“It is so much more than I was expecting. You learn, you grow, you are challenged, and you become a better leader. It is not a support group, but you get support. It is not a networking group, but your network expands dramatically. The Posse and Tribe builds trust, and powerful things happen when you have trust as the starting point,” said Doug Claycomb, Owner, PlanGroup Financial
GAINING THAT COMPETITIVE EDGE. CEO’s and senior executives today are always looking for ways to improve their competitive edge in the marketplace. Many members believe the Posse and Tribe have helped them increase their competitive edge by gaining first-hand knowledge of different industries, business models and being exposed to the different ways entrepreneurs think and solve problems.
“I love having the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs every month who are disrupters in the marketplace and able to take advantage of opportunities quickly. As the COO of a large publicly traded hospital, I manage my business differently, and the opportunity to have a seat at this table has expanded my decision-making and competitiveness exponentially,” said Bennett Geister, COO, AllianceHealth Deaconess Hospital.
DEVOTED TIME TO FOCUS ON YOUR BUSINESS. So often business owners operate in the day-to-day mindset and make little to no time to focus ON big picture, strategic decisions. The Posse and Tribe is a place each month, where leaders have the opportunity to focus on the big picture.
“The Posse provides me the opportunity to step away from the day to day practice of law and spend time focusing exclusively on the firm, its growth plans and opportunities, and my personal and professional goals which has directly impacted the growth of my business,” said Kendra Robben, Founder, Robben & Associates, LLC
LEARNING FROM OTHER LEADERS. Members will tell you that being a part of the Posse and Tribe has had a tremendous impact on them as leaders in their business.
“The exposure to other complex business issues and the in-depth discussion and insights shared with one another each month has made me look at my business and the way I solve problems differently. I am a better leader as a result. Whitney Dyche, Owner, Central Staffing.
Andy Moore, Executive Director, Let’s Fix This, Inc., agrees. “I often describe the Tribe as a professional accountability group for business leaders. It’s ten people who each use their own unique experience and background to help make one another better. It’s the proverbial “iron sharpens iron” approach to life and work.”
Even after ten years and a plethora of professional experiences, Hopper still believes her greatest professional impact to date has been the starting and growing of the Posse and Tribe. “Leading the Posse and Tribe is one of the most rewarding things I do. I hear on a weekly basis “This group changed my life,” said Gene.