The Power of Peer Groups

I had a phenomenal day. 

A few months ago my friend Bill Flagg recommended that I be a speaker at this year’s Gathering of Titans (GOT) event.  This is an annual gathering of graduates of the Birthing of Giants (BOG) program.  I participated in the first or second BOG event back in the early 1990’s and it was my introduction to the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (then about 100 members; now called EO and over 7,000 members around the world).  BOG was a transformational experience for me – it was the first time as an entrepreneur that I really found my true peer group.

I came to GOT as a speaker but immediately felt like a part of the gang.  There were about 70 people in the room that were entrepreneurs of a wide variety of businesses, many of them on their second, third, or fourth company.  These weren’t all tech businesses – they covered a wide range of industries and experiences – but shared a common passion for creating things and for entrepreneurship.

After about 15 minutes in the room listening to the first speaker today (Jack Daly) I was immediately entranced and emotionally transported back to 1992.  The energy in the room was fantastic and very familiar.  The next speaker – Ayanna Samuels – was equally awesome and inspiring.  I was up next, had a lot of fun, and was met with a warm reception.  Kyle MacDonald and Neal Petersen were the afternoon speakers – both dynamite.

It wasn’t just the speakers, but the Q&A, discussion in the hallways between sessions, and the energy in the room that was so inspiring.  I was invited to attend next year as a member of the gang (instead of just a speaker) and immediately accepted.

The theme for this year was something like “addressing adversity” which translated very clearly into – as Jack so beautifully stated over and over – “Golden Rule: Purpose”.  The day stimulated a lot of interesting blog fodder that I’m sure I’ll be wrapping into some of my posts over the next few weeks – whenever I use the word “purpose” you can tie it back to Jack!

As I was reflecting on the day, I realize that one of the key pieces of advice that I regularly give entrepreneurs is to “join a formal group of your peers that meets regularly and spend deep time with them.”  I don’t mean “industry associations” or “random networking clubs” – I mean things like EO, Vistage, or YPO.  When I was a first time entrepreneur, I often thought “I don’t have time for this.”  Bullshit – I didn’t have time not to do it.  And that continues today even after having been involved in hundreds of companies.  Entrepreneurial communities aren’t merely geographic or industry focused – peer groups that build deep, intimate, and long term relationships between the members play a key part in the process of entrepreneurship.

I’m heading out for a run to reflect a little more on the amazing day and then I’m going to the Olde Irish Alehouse in Dedham, MA for the GOT afterparty.  Wow – what a great day.

  • JBH

    Great to hear your enthusiasm .. something we can emulate in front range?

    • There are plenty of groups like this in the front range. I know there is at least a solid EO group (I helped start it in the mid 1990s) and several YPO chapters.

  • EO have a rule of $1M+ revenues so your ability to join may be dependant on where you are at in your current start-up cycle.

    • Correct – that’s part of the definition of the EO peer group (founders of companies with > $1m in revenue). However, I believe many EO chapters now have an “accelerator” program for founders of companies below $1m that are on the path to being > $1m in the next year or two.

  • "Golden Rule: Purpose"

    Now we know your refrain as you cruise up Heartbreak Hill tomorrow. : )

  • No heartbreak hill for me this year. I just landed back home in Colorado.

  • Brad, glad I caught you and was honored to formally do the shout out to invite you into the crew at GOT. You've exhibited the Titan pure peerness and entreprenership core values ever since we met at kauffmann in the late 90s! I'm glad we have you back in the family!

    Tony Bain, EO has established a program called the accelerator program for selected companies doing 250k in revenue. There often can be some subjectivity involved, and as with many things in business, tenacity can make a difference – sometimes if you are very close to a threshhold, you can with tenacity and enthusiasm break through the floor. If you want to be a part of a group, keep asking!!

    Go to or email me (I was president of the DC chapter and active on the global team too) I'd be happy to connect any young entrepreneur with one of the directors of a local accelerator program to get them on a path to join.

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  • As a current member of EO Network's Colorado Chapter I can vouch for what Brad states above as the value that comes from these peer groups. I am an entrepreneur on the front range and founder of My Boulder Forum( the legacy of Brad's original participation in YEO), is a micro-grouping of entrepreneurial peers within the EO Network that I have become tremendously close to. The experience sharing on all things personal and professional as an entrepreneur could not have been more helpful as both challenge and success are achieved. EO Network has been a boon for my business and beacon for my life as an entrepreneur for the past 3 years. An endorsement for sure.

  • That sounds like a good time. I actually got on a streak at the beginning of last year of going to some young professional networking groups. It was cool because you get to talk to younger people who are in business, but there were not a lot of entrepreneurs. It was mostly people with sales jobs just trying to get leads. Which is fine I still had a good time talking to them and hearing about what they do, but I think I would have a better experience talking to business owners. I checked out their Atlanta chapter website and it looks like they have a pretty good chapter here, with some good events. I will plan on checking it out, thanks for the heads up.

  • Dean Lindal

    Brad. Glad you still connect with EO. You were a great member leader starting boston YEO, Colorado YEO and on our global board. A couple of other resources for your readers… EO started Accelerator for companies below 1 million in sales. Objective is to use collective wisdom resources of EO to help these companies fast track to 1+ million. We launched this just over 2 years ago..400 companies gone through…3000 new jobs and over 10% of the companies have track to over 1 million and beyond.


    Dean Lindal
    Global VP
    Entrepreneurs' Organization

    • Hi Dean,

      I was at the GOT conference as well with Neal Petersen. I am his manager, spouse, co-producer of his keynote and many other things – we are a great team with a commitment to a better world. If you are ever interested in in bringing Neal's "No Barriers – Only Solutions" keynote to any of the EO or Accelerator conferences we will do whatever it takes to make it a reality.

      Thank you Dean – Kind regards, Darlene Kristi

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