Small-business networking groups have one thing in common: they're designed to help people in business. All, that is, except St. Louis's COPS. The Cashed Out President Society is just what the name implies: a forum where cashed-out presidents and CEOs help one another figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. The group, started with six people in 1985, now has 26 members who pay dues of $75 a year. According to COPS founder J.W. Kisling, the fee covers the cost of four lunches, including "all you can drink, plus parking." No doubt members can afford it: Kisling estimates they have a collective net worth of more than half a billion dollars.
And what do cashed-out presidents talk about? Mainly, says Kisling, they figure out what to do with their cash -- and their time. "One of the guys ran for lieutenant governor. Others have started staking the next generation of entrepreneurs. Some will no doubt go back and start another company." The group also gives advice to uncashed-out presidents. "Sometimes, they want to know how to cash out -- whether to sign a management contract, for example, or accept warranties. Sometimes, we'll help them decide whether to sell in the first place. We have one fellow who's been attending meetings for three years now, and he's still struggling with that question."
Kisling says he and his colleagues would be happy to share their experiences with others who want to set up their own COPS. "We're really just a bunch of guys trying to figure out what to do with our lives. This group has been very helpful and great fun. But keep in mind that the price of admission is steep: you have to sell your company." Kisling can be reached by calling Multiplex, his non-cashed-out company, at 314-256-7777.* * *