People often look at entrepreneurial icons such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and look at their lives enviously. What they often don't understand is the emotional stress and mental exhaustion that goes into building great companies. The ups and downs on the roller coaster ride are often dramatic.
As an entrepreneur, I think I know the other side. And in today's world, some of the stress is exasperating. All the change in Washington brings uncertainty. And while this can create opportunity, it also compounds the difficulty that entrepreneurs have making decisions with imprecise information.
We don't really escape this state of mind. It just is what it is. We learn to thrive and survive on it. We sleep and think it 24/7.
Yet somehow, last week in Orlando, Florida of all places, I seemed to step away from it all into a community that offered an Oasis of Hope.
I attended the annual Vistage Chair World conference.
Vistage is a membership organization that is comprised of small CEO advisory boards across the world. Once a month, CEO's from non-competing industries get together, share ideas, and collaborate and challenge each other. The group is facilitated by a Chair, who is often a retired business owner or executive who enjoys bringing their insight and experience to their groups.
Once a year the Chairs from around the world get together and share ideas and learn together. What is rare about the experience is to be surrounded by a community of givers whose mission and purpose is to make the role of a CEO a little less lonely.
I am a member of a Vistage group, and the experience of these monthly meetings is terrific. I don't think you really realize the power of the organization until you're in a room with a few hundred people who have dedicated this stage of their careers to this mission.
It is a calming and exhilarating experience - all at the same time. You realize that there is an organization dedicated to helping.
I have returned from Orlando and I am back to the grindstone, but feel fortunate for the experience of attending this conference. The perspective and pause were very helpful.
If you're a CEO or entrepreneur who feels like you're alone, consider joining a Vistage group. It may provide an Oasis of Hope for you as well.