What if you could be a better leader, make better decisions, get better results?
A Vistage group is a professionally led peer advisory board designed to respond to the aspirations of Chief Executives and Key Executives of middle market companies. Safe and supportive, these groups allow leaders to talk about confidential strategic issues and get objective advice from non-competing peers.
For over 8 years, Mary O’Hara-Devereaux has been a passionate and committed Vistage Chair to her groups of Chief Executives and Key Executives in San Francisco.
Chief Executives of middle market companies are charged with running their organizations effectively and efficiently. No easy task. Especially challenging, as they must often do this without strategic executive coaching or invaluable ongoing peer support. Vistage provides executives with the essential confidential learning environment they need to become better leaders, make better decisions, and achieve better results.
There are 32 Vistage Groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. Each individual belongs to a select group of 14-16 members and has access to the vast Vistage network of over 16,000 members in 15 countries. Vistage is aimed at serving middle market companies with revenues of a few million to $300 million.
At the core of Vistage’s successful business model is the peer advisory group. Each group has 14-16 members, who are non-competitive and successful leaders. Monthly meetings allow chief executives and key executives to work ON their businesses. The day begins with a guest speaker, chosen by the Chair, who conducts a half-day executive workshop on topics of interest and relevance. The afternoon is devoted to a closed-door board meeting. Members have the opportunity to discuss issues and opportunities. In addition to peer groups, Vistage members receive 1:1 executive coaching each month.
Mary’s Chief Executive Group meets on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. The Key Executive/Small Business Group meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month. Meetings are hosted by members in rotation.
Speaker SectionTopics we covered in 2015-2016 included:
- Google & Your Business: Impacts of the New Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Economic Forecast to 2020
- Building a High Performance Executive Team
- Scaling Up Your Business and Avoiding the Valley of Death
- Yescalate — Getting to “Yes” Faster
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- New Technology — IT and Your Business
- Digital Marketing Strategy
- Finding the “Buy Button” in Your Customers Brain
- Lean Applied to Business Process
- Understanding Gen Y and Gen Z
- Understanding China’s Impact on Your Business
Vistage maintains a roster of over 5,000 speakers, chosen for expertise in their respective fields and ability to work with middle market CEOs and C-Suite executives. Speakers are evaluated after every session. With access to those results, Mary books excellent speakers of her choice who will deliver effective, relevant discussions with actionable insights and strategies. Members commit to how they will apply the learnings from the speaker and Mary follows up on these in 1:1 sessions.
After the guest speaker, the afternoon features a closed-door confidential board meeting. In this session, as a board of peer advisors chaired by Mary, members discuss their pressing strategic business issues and opportunities and make commitments to how they will resolve them as part of the process. Here is a small sampling of the issues members have brought to board meetings this year:
- Determining whether or not to make an acquisition
- Preventing continuing market share loss by taking business away from a competitor
- Developing goals and objectives my staff will enthusiastically support
- Finding outside funding
- Developing an exit plan to determine whether or not to sell the company
- Deciding whether or not to terminate a key, long-standing employee
- Achieving more balance between career and personal life
The peer advisory model allows executives to meet in small groups to discuss challenges, generate solutions, hold each other accountable, and learn from the experiences, successes, and missteps of others who walk in their shoes. Non-competitive and completely confidential, members feel secure speaking about their businesses, strategies, and opportunities.
1:1 Executive Coaching
Each Vistage member receives executive leadership coaching with Mary each month for two hours. Sessions are scheduled at mutually convenient times, and the agenda is set by the member with additions by Mary.
Unique Benefits of Mary’s Groups
As the Chair of two peer advisory boards, Mary’s goal is to propose provocative questions and create an environment of trust and openness. Every member can safely bring their most pressing issues and opportunities to the group and receive value-added input from their colleagues.
In addition to the regular Vistage benefits, Mary provides the following unique benefits to her members:
- Global and Local CEO and Business Experience
Mary has 25 years of experience in building and selling profitable companies in health care, import and export to Asia, and business forecasting. Businesses ranged in size from $2 million to $150 million. She brings her strategic experience working with companies in over 60 countries.
- Reliable Economic Forecasts
A leading global futurist and forecaster, Mary is known for her accurate global, national, California and Bay Area forecasts. These are provided to her Vistage groups in an annual workshop, relevant updates as needed and in 1:1 coaching sessions where relevant.
- Ongoing Executive Team Feedback
Confidential interviews conducted by Mary with a leader’s key executives to learn how they view the company and leadership is part of her unique program. These insights are shared with members so they can improve during their first 6 months of membership.
- Options to Use Your 1:1 Time in Unique Ways
Mary has provided executive briefings on the economy, trend analyses for companies, and review of strategic plans with your key executive team. She has worked with members to review execution challenges with their direct reports.
By weaving her outside perspectives into the Vistage program, executives develop into better leaders and make sound decisions for the future of their organizations.
At the end of the monthly Board meeting and one to one, Mary wants each member to leave with actionable insights, refreshed, stimulated and having taken a big step forward to becoming a better leader, who makes better decisions and gets better results.
Mary’s Group Members
Vistage membership is by Chair invitation only. It is critical that members represent a mix of genders, ages, backgrounds, and industries. The diversity of thoughts, experiences, and perspectives allows insightful and innovative ideas to flourish as members work to resolve strategic issues.
The average tenure in a Vistage Chief Executive Group is 5-7 years, and many of Mary’s members have been with her group for 6 years.
Some of Mary’s CE group members include:
- President of a commercial building company
- CEO of wireless technology company
- CEO of a lead automation marketing company
- CEO of a regional electrical contracting company
- President of a gourmet food company
- President of a farm-to-table food and specialty product distribution company
- Owner of three furniture companies
- President of a national architecture firm
- CEO of a software company in healthcare
- CEO of a sports photography company
- President of a financial services company specializing in commercial lending
- CEO of a retail and wholesale line of clothing, which they design and manufacture
Many members of the key executive group are from chief executive-member companies. This is an excellent way to develop high-potential executives.
Some of Mary’s Key Executive/Small Business Group Members include:
- EVP of Sales, farm-to-table food and specialty product distribution company
- Director of Operations, farm-to-table food and specialty product distribution company
- COO, financial services company in commercial lending
- COO/CFO, regional electrical contracting company ground up
- CFO, wine bars
- Director of Enterpise Customers, health care software company
- Director of Services, Wireless Technology company
- CFO, restoration company for water and disaster damage
- COO & Founder, nutritious school lunch programs
- Director of U.S. Operations and Finance, health care software company
- Director of Innovation, financial services company in commercial lending
- CFO, restoration company for water and disaster damage
- President and Founder of an engineering measurements company
- President and Founder of a children’s toy company
Vistage members consistently outperform their non-Vistage counterparts year after year. Even during the Great Recession, these companies have grown three times faster than other businesses in their industries. They have experienced measurable improvements in sales revenue, productivity, and other essential areas. Qualitative results include increased confidence, better decision-making, improved focus, a sustained sense of energy and purpose, and a better quality of life.
Special results from Mary’s Members
- Doubling Growth from $15M to $30M in 18 months
- Starting a new line of design that drove several million in sales (and is still climbing)
- Winning an international design award with a new product
- Becoming the #1 industry leader in the SBA market in Northern California and Las Vegas
- Building a new marketing function that allowed fast recovery during the recession of hard hit commercial builder
- First to market wireless solution
- Successful global go to market program for a technology company
- National expansion to the east coast for a gourmet food company
What Members Are Saying:
In these short CEO interviews, leaders share their stories of how Vistage membership has helped their companies:
Becoming a Member
Membership in Vistage is by a Chair invitation only. Mary is always interested in speaking to potential new members. With the peer advisory model, connections and relationships are paramount, and determining fit is at the core of the membership process. This, and potential ROI specifically for a potential new member, is discussed at initial meetings. Prospective members, if ROI seems good, are introduced to one to three members of the group in an informal setting so they can learn more about each other and how the group functions. Mary then invites potential members to participate in one or two meetings before making a mutually beneficial decision to join.
‘Ideal’ Vistage Member for Mary’s Groups
Every Vistage Group is unique in terms of how it operates and the culture that is established. Members must be non-competitors and committed to confidentiality. The best members for Mary’s groups are executives who:
- Are committed to learning, personal growth, and improving their businesses
- Have a track record of success with sound financial practices
- Are not satisfied with the status quo and are committed to continuous improvement and innovation
- Hold themselves accountable for progress towards goals and resolving strategic issues
- Are willing to bring their significant strategic issues to the group
- Share a willingness to confront fellow members in a constructive and caring way in our confidential environment
- Possess a high level of integrity and ethics
- Have a sense of humor and are willing to think out of the box
Results-driven, committed executives can determine if they qualify for Vistage membership and take the first steps towards becoming more effective leaders by contacting Mary.