Does this simple message “Getting presidents of companies together monthly to help them solve each other’s problems”– helping each of them with their key decisions resonate with you as a business owner?

Here’s a view of a Journey recently created by Leigh Hooker, COO of Vistage Worldwide that began 60 years ago by Bob Nourse at the Milwaukee Valve Company.  Nourse’s vision has impacted millions of employees and billions and billions of dollars.

No other organization in the world knows more about the key decisions impacting leaders of small and mid-sized businesses. Today, Vistage is the world’s largest CEO advisory and coaching firm, with 21K members benefitting from our Peer-to-Peer Advisory Groups and our Executive coaching services.

History of Vistage

Bob Nourse, respected businessman in Milwaukee 60 years ago noticed company presidents were dealing with same or similar issues; and were facing the same or similar difficult decisions on the path to personal and professional excellence. His concept was for business owners to work together to help each other in a confidential, safe and open setting. It all started with his Milwaukee valve company with 8 execs;  their first big issue had to do with a good sales leader. Other business owners wanted to get in but Bob needed to make sure it was not competitive in any way. No one can be a competitor nor in the food chain. Nourse meet individually in order to get prepared for monthly group meetings and make sure the topics were relevant and then coaching started happening…the combo of individual and group provided insights he never imagined.

Also, the members started asking for expertise in things outside of their business that were impacting their business…estate planning, family business complexities, etc. and so Bob started bringing in local experts to explain their point of view, and to not make it a selling meeting but an information transfer meeting. Bob eventually realized he had something here so he named the business The Executive Committee (TEC), and about 11 years ago it was rebranded to Vistage…helping to better communicate the leverage leaders get from their journey.

Early leaders and members did not count on how the individual meeting plus the group meeting plus the guest speakers would all come together to turn this into an amazingly effective way of becoming a better leader. Nor did they count on how vested everyone became in everyone’s success and how free people would share knowing that others would share as well.

Today, executives across the globe meet on a monthly basis with their Peer Advisory Board. Each board includes around 12-15 members and it is facilitated and led by the group’s Vistage Chairman. Guest speakers typically do a 2 to 3 hour presentation in most meetings, and the Chairman has an individual coaching session with each member during the course of the month as well.  In addition, there are a host of other resources, learning, and research that our members get access to as part of their membership.


Fast-forward 60 years, and we have nearly 21,000 executives across the globe as Vistage members, the vast majority of them are owners, presidents and CEO’s; who count on the confidential environment and vast resources to help them become better leaders. These leaders are connected by the fact that they all need to make Decisions every single day, and they benefit from the platform we have built at Vistage, which is designed specifically for the purpose of helping these leaders make better decisions and deliver better results.

They count on us to be their trusted resource and to deliver relevant and timely ideas and insights to help them succeed. The issues our members deal with start from the most traditional business challenges dealing with finance, operations, talent, sales and marketing etc., all the way to major personal issues that impact their performance at work and at home. Our members get the benefit of new perspectives and candid feedback, as well as a coach who gets to know them and their business intimately.


There are other Peer Advisory services out there for CEO’s but none of them have the depth and breadth of Vistage Worlwide. 

We focus on the real job creators in the world, the SMB companies make up almost all of our membership. We aren’t about networking for the sake of networking, we are about rolling sleeves up and getting work done. We are about doing the right thing for companies and communities so it is with integrity that we approach every discussion.

Depth- We believe that for Peer-to-Peer groups to be truly effective they need to have a leader who is a seasoned businessperson and a skilled facilitator. Therefore, we anchor every one of our Boards with accomplished leaders who have done it themselves as CEO’s and business owners, who now take their entrepreneurial aspirations and combine it with a true desire to give back and help others succeed.

We spend a lot of time trying to recruit the best of the best to be our group Chairmen, and then we also train them intensively in the Vistage way so that we can deliver consistent excellence to our members while at the same time leaving room for the Chairman’s individual creativity and ingenuity.  We power up these Chairman with a practice management software platform and complete back office support so that they can ramp their practices up quickly and focus on bringing value to their members. Today, we have nearly 1000 of these Chairmen.

Breadth perspective, we are a global organization in 17 countries, so we have the leverage to bring additional value to our members.

To begin with, we have over 1000 curated speakers in our network who understand their role is to communicate and inform- not to push their services. This additional breadth in terms of the resources brought to the table adds to our value proposition. Our members get the benefit of world class thought leadership; timely topics and easy connection to all of the other Vistage members in order to facilitate quick answers.


We know that CEO’s do not like to make decisions in isolation, and when they can add new perspectives to their instincts and judgment skills then they can make better decisions and deliver better results. We have learned over our 60 years that effective Leadership is the art of Execution. Our members feel that the number one deliverable we bring to them is their ability to improve as a Leader.

If you are a CEO, president, owner or entrepreneur starting, own a company or run a division, find a Peer-to-Peer group in your sharpen your saw or add another arrow to your quiver. If you recently sold your business or are flunking retirement consider being a group chairman in your give back chapter in the book called LIFE. If you are in Austin, reach out to me and let’s have a cup of coffee. I’d like to  get to know you.

Published by edstillman

I grew up in Carlsbad, north San Diego County, lost my dad as a teenager, went into the USAF for four years and hired on with 3M in 1969. Received my AA from Santa Barbara City College, BA and Masters from Redlands University and after 33 plus years, I retired from 3M in 2002. As I look back on my life, I have been creating myself and developing my skill sets to be a business coach and a Vistage Chair. I am president of SEOT, a "personal improvement" consulting firm spending most of my time working with Central Texas executives running small to medium size for-profit companies who are focusing on improving their profitability greater than their competition. My area of interest is assisting senior executives in creating a better balance between business commitments and personal relationships. I also facilatate three leadership labs each consisting of a dozen owners, presidents and CEOs. We meet monthly both in a group setting as well as in a 1-to-1 coaching session. Our focus is to sharpen each others' skills in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and taking ourselves and companies to that next level. Who are we? My members are experienced top executives who recognize that they don’t have all the answers and who actively seek the company of successful peers—both to give and receive insights and ideas. My members mine the 200 plus years of chief executive experience that comes together in our monthly meetings and members are eager to offer their own experience and insights in the process. As a group, we spend our time exploring topics members can't discuss anywhere else. My members have many other places where they can engage in idle, "cocktail party" chatter. Our mission is to provide the setting for discussing the "undiscussable." Where or who can you go to for confidential, honest feedback to assist you in minimizing your personal "Worry List"?