Will Bachman, Nancy MacKay
Will Bachman 00:03
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host will Bachman and I’m excited to be here today with Nancy McKay. Nancy is the founder and CEO of Mackay CEO forums. Nancy, welcome to the show.
Nancy MacKay 00:16
Thanks. Well, thrilled to be here today.
Will Bachman 00:20
First, for listeners who are not familiar with McKinsey KCO forms give us an overview of what K co forms is.
Nancy MacKay 00:30
Thanks. Well, our dream advocate to forms is to populate the world with inspiring leaders. And we do that by offering confidential peer support groups to our hundreds of CO executive and business owner members across Canada.
Will Bachman 00:47
Amazing. Tell us how MC ACO forums is similar or different from other sorts of peer advisory groups that people may be familiar with. There’s YPO, there’s vintage, there’s some other ones that I’m not familiar with. But how does it fit into that landscape?
Nancy MacKay 01:11
Well, I can honestly say well, that there’s an unprecedented need for peer support. In today’s world, it’s lonely at the top, and very difficult for CEOs and top executives to surround themselves with people that they can work with to help them solve their toughest problems and maximize their best opportunities. And so as a peer group industry, there’s enormous potential for all organizations that are offering peer support to CEOs and top executives because it’s lonelier than ever at the top with the exponential change world that we live in. With a mental health crisis that’s taking place. Most people talk about mental health challenges at different levels of organizations that because I literally work with hundreds of CEOs and executives every day, it’s real. And it’s a very challenging business environment out there. So my view is the world needs more peer support, and the world needs more modern trusted advisors. And these are consultants that are current and relevant, and are able to support CEOs and executives on their very challenging journey.
Will Bachman 02:28
So let’s start by talking a bit more about the current Casio forms. And then I want to go back and get some of the backstory. But so the Casio form today, talk me through what, you know, sort of who is the typical population? And also explain to me what happens within one. So how often do they meet? Is it online or in person? And along often? What’s the sort of agenda? Is there content brought to the table or people just sharing whatever it is, just give me the give me the 123.
Nancy MacKay 03:06
That’s a lot. That’s more than three, and I’ll try to do. So I’ll start with describing our Mackay community. And so we have over 1200, CEOs, executives, and business owners from all different industries, all across Canada, from Victoria to St. James, to St. John’s, Newfoundland, everywhere in between members that participate in over 114 person peer learning groups. And we have over 60 consultants who have been trained and certified on how to offer peer learning support to our members. And we have our leadership team, of course, that we’re focused on doing everything we can to support our form chairs, who offer the peer learning support to our members and to our hundreds of members. And currently, when you ask the question about what is the format I can talk about, I started a CEO group 15 years ago, and I still chair my group in addition to being the CEO and founder of the Casio forums, and my group has 14 CEOs from all different industries, the revenue size, generally speaking in the Casio forums, our members are privately held for profit companies revenue anywhere from 5 million to 5 billion plus, we do have some peer groups for billion dollar plus CEOs, but most of our peer groups across the country are for entrepreneurial, privately held people that want to grow their businesses. That’s why they join a peer group and they join because they want to be the best version of themselves. They want to develop their leadership because their belief and our belief is that To be a successful business leader, you have to work on yourself. That’s a lifelong, long journey. So my group, we have 14 CEOs that are from all different industries and auto dealer manufacturing company, a retail business, financial services, business, private equity firms. So it’s all different industries. And there’s 14, it’s confidential, it’s non compete, we need six times a year for a day. And we do a two day annual retreat. And every time we meet, there’s a one hour speaker, most of our forum chairs who are consultants, they are speakers with my Casio forms, we also have external speakers. And we have speakers from our partner program. So there’s a one hour speaker at every meeting. And then after the speaker leaves, we get into the very confidential updates, where CEOs will talk about their biggest issues and challenges and opportunities related to business, family and personal. And every meeting every time they get to put a business issue on the table that they want some help with. And then after the issues around the table, we do what we call sharing experiences, which is our judgment free approach, low ego approach to getting people to tell true stories about what they’ve done, that’s worked and what hasn’t worked. And then we get around of commitments at the end of the meeting. So the meetings are very high energy, high impact fast paced. And, you know, I always say one of the biggest objections we get for people that are exploring joining a peer group is I don’t have time. And actually, that’s not the truth, because we all have 24/7. And if you’re surrounding yourself, with 14 CEOs, from all different industries that are all running successful businesses, with a growth mindset, you’re going to save a lot of time, you’re going to get all the shortcuts, you’re going to have people helping you with every issue you’ve got, whether it’s business, family, or personal. So it’s going to save people a lot of time. And again, I believe the world needs more peer support. So anyone today, who’s in some type of business leadership role, if they don’t have peer support, whether it’s structured or unstructured, I just don’t see how they’re going to win in today’s world. And then I can’t help but say the rule, the forum chair, all of our forum chairs are modern, trusted advisors. They’re very, very successful consultants with extensive experience working with CEOs, executives, and business owners. And they have a huge role to play in terms of chairing those meetings and the retreats and creating a very confidential, sacred space for CEOs and executives to be very vulnerable with each other, and to be able to be successful in their careers, but also not sacrifice their health and their important personal and family relationships.
Will Bachman 08:01
Could you give us an example, or two, from perhaps from your own experience, leading one of the groups? You know, a specific example sanitized, of course of were a kind of issue that a CEO would bring to the group? And what was the valuable advice that they got, or the mindset shift that they received from feedback or ideas from the other 13? Members? So like, just give us a couple examples of how, what that peer learning support looks like in practice.
Nancy MacKay 08:40
I think that one of the key ones that I the issues I hear, as we launch all kinds of new groups across the country, a CEO is really thinking through Is this what I want to do, and everyone’s planning their exit, whether it’s CEOs or executives, I’ve never seen anything like this. Well, in my 18 years, since I found them a Casio forms, so many people in transition. So people have the opportunity to put on the table. Look, I’m thinking about selling my business. And they’re sitting around the table judgment free, total confidential environment, where other people can say, you know, I did I sold my business and here’s how I did it. And then I got bored, and then I had to start a new business or I didn’t totally sell my business, I found a private equity partner or so it’s people really thinking through Am I in the right role? And is this what I want to be doing with my life? So whether it’s a CEO or Executive, a lot of that conversation goes on. The other conversation that goes on is I want to scale my business. I want to double my business in the next two to three years and I’m really struggling with finding talent to help me scale? And this is we did a member survey of our hundreds of members on what’s keeping them awake at night. And the three key themes were the recession. And the second one was all on talent. How do you deal with finding talent, attracting top talent retaining developing talent? And then the third one was around how do we continue to build successful cultures in this hybrid world? So those topics are very common topics discussed. The other one, there’s lots of discussions around succession planning. How do I plan my succession, I’m not planning to go anywhere right now. And I know that I have to plan succession for me and my top team and throughout my organization, so all kinds of people related issues, people have challenges dealing with their boards. And there’s lots of opportunities for building better relationships between board members and CEOs and creating a much better competitive advantage through greater collaboration with boards. So those are some of the examples will that people talk about in the confidential peer groups?
Will Bachman 11:20
How do you segment the peer groups? I can imagine, you know, you mentioned that you range from 5 million to 5 billion, I can imagine someone who is the CEO of a 750 million business is going to have a lot different issues than someone who’s running a five or $6 million business. So do you kind of try to separate them by size? Talking about that a little bit?
Nancy MacKay 11:45
We do actually, we have different types of peers. So we have peer groups for billion dollar plus company CEOs, we have peer groups for 5 million in revenue to 50 million in revenue, peer groups from 50 million to half a billion. So it’s not a hard and fast rule. Because people we have people in groups that used to be running very huge companies. And now they’re, they’ve launched their exciting startups. So we really take each person’s full background experience, and ensure that if anyone’s going to join a peer group, it’s going to be a best fit peer group. The other types of peer groups, we have ones that are specifically for CFOs. Or specifically for CHR rows, we have lots of cross functional executive groups where we put CFOs, and CEOs and VPs of HR and VP sales, marketing all in one group. And that’s really, in my view, the most effective way to accelerate executive development. And we’ve had hundreds of our executive peer group members graduate into our CEO groups, they’re, they’re the people that want to become CEOs. That’s their aspiration. That’s a really great peer group for them. And and I forgot to mention in your previous question Will that we also talk about personal and family issues in the peer groups, because again, our goal is to help people be successful with their careers, and not sacrifice their health, and their important personal family relationships. So people will come to their peer group and talk about the health issues they have, or their aging parents, or the challenges they’re having with their kids, or if they’re going through a divorce. And they have a lifelong group of business supporters and, and friendships that they build, to help them through every aspect of life, not just their career.
Will Bachman 13:47
What are some of the key tips that someone needs to learn in order to run an effective peer learning group? So for someone to be one of these group chairs? It’s one thing to be a good consultant, a good advisor, but how is it different or what is unique and special that someone needs to learn how to do to be an effective Chair of one of these groups where you’re maybe taking a step back and not being the person who’s given the advice, but you’re trying to make the meeting run effectively, would share some of the advice that you give to, to the chairs of these groups?
Nancy MacKay 14:27
Well, I’ll share three tips. The first one is, Hi, we say this as a chair. I’m not the star in the room. And peer support. People join a peer group, because they want to be sitting around the table with their peers, solving their toughest challenges, maximizing their best opportunities, so they join a peer group, because it’s exactly that they want to surround themselves with people who have been there and done that before where they’re headed with their business. is, and they’re there for peer support. So I’m not the star in the room, it’s all about the members. The second thing is, it’s judgment free. So as a chair, is really my role to create a, I call it a very sacred space of vulnerability, so that people can park their egos including me parking my ego as a chair. No one needs to be the smartest person in the room. And it’s really our approach. Our whole leadership philosophy is about judgment free and sharing experiences. So we really help CEOs and executives get masterful at telling stories, and being vulnerable. And talking about the mistakes they’ve made, the challenges they’ve had, what’s led to their success, and parking ego, it’s not about showing up and being the smartest person in the room and you have all the answers, it’s really about showing up as the best version of yourself, and being surrounded by people that are not going to judge you. They’re there to cheer you on and help you be successful. And also, to help you face it when you are your egos getting in the way, and that perhaps you’ve made some mistakes that you’ve got to apologize. And then the third tip is being a chair is really about helping people achieve their full potential. It’s not about being nice to the people around you, I have CEOs saying this to me all the time. I don’t need people to be nice to me. I’m a CEO, everybody’s nice to me. So when they attend a peer group meeting, they really want their chair to make sure that the meeting start on time and on time, that the meetings are high accountability, that people are really telling the truth about what’s going on, that people are sharing their their experiences, and really making bold commitments. At the end of every meeting. It’s how learning and growth happens. We can learn, we can network, we can have some fun. But the end, at the end of the day, if we’re not making commitments to take action, then nothing changes. And our leadership doesn’t evolve, and our businesses don’t benefit. So being a chair is not about being nice to CEOs, it’s about challenging them and holding them accountable, so that they can achieve their full potential.
Will Bachman 17:25
Can you talk a little bit about just the role of the chair, my house becomes a chair, what’s the certification process? And also, I think I understand that the chair is actually responsible for recruiting the members of their group, right, so they kind of are doing the client development to pull their group together. Talk to us a little bit about how that works.
Nancy MacKay 17:54
Well, I will say this, that the starting point of becoming a chair is having your own independent consulting practice for minimally three years. So we really have over the 18 years of partnering and growing these groups and partnering with consultants. It’s having your own successful advisory practice and extensive experience working with CEOs, executives and business owners from all different industries. That’s the beginning of the foreign chair journey. And then the other aspect of it is our most successful chairs are really partnering with the Casio forums and signing up for our certification program because they really want a roadmap to success on building world class long term, peer learning groups for CEOs and executives. So we have a proven system of building these peer groups. We’ve launched over 100 groups and over 18 years and and so we’re not perfect, we’re always evolving and improving. And so our best fit chairs that are most successful one a proven roadmap to success on how do you build these groups? And then how do you continue to achieve chair mastery? So we have a certification program. That’s experiential learning. It’s not a bootcamp approach. You become a chair. And then there’s one on one coaching that I do with new chairs. There’s pure learning that happens on a weekly basis. There’s observation, we co chair groups, like there’s a lot of investment we put in place for our chairs. And and then we have a chair Mastery program where once you’ve been a chair for several years, and you’ve chaired several groups and establish that level of mastery, then you become a master chair. So it’s a very exciting An opportunity, I would say for people who have a passion for populating the world with inspiring leaders and bringing people together, facilitation, that type of experience. And I can honestly say when I started sharing these peer groups 18 years ago, I had no idea I would still have just as much passion for chairing peer groups 18 years later, because every single meeting, there’s a speaker, there’s learning from the CEOs, there’s so much learning and growth that happens every single meeting every time. And we have a whole team of people to help people learn how to be chairs and achieve chair mastering.
Will Bachman 20:45
Talk to me from the perspective of the CEO who joins, I imagine, well, let’s say consultant, a or coach a, right could just go create their own form, you know, the, the Jane Smith form and invite people to it, 14 people, and they just pay Jane directly and she runs a forum and they meet every two months. Coach B is a member of a share within the MMA KC or forums and CEO can join a forum that is part of the MMA KCO forums. What’s the what’s the benefit that a CEO gets from being in a forum that is part of the overall KCO forums are additional, like conferences or content or connectivity across forums? What would the benefits be a part of being part of the broader network of the KCL forums.
Nancy MacKay 21:45
The benefit of partnering with my Casio forums and becoming a chair and getting certified is that we have a proven roadmap to success on how to build these groups for the long term. We also have a peer group of consultants, over 60 of them across Canada, where we bring our forum chairs together, and ensure that they get access to current relevant information. All of the events we put on, we have an annual summit this year, it’s on November 15, in Vancouver on the talent advantage, so it’s a full day of peer learning with 500, CEOs, executives and business owners, that’s exclusive to our forum chairs. So we have learning opportunities, networking opportunities. And it’s a very lucrative opportunity for forum chairs because our members hire our forum chairs. And we endorse every one of our forum chairs to our members. And our forum chairs are highly rated speakers with MC Casio forums. And so there’s lots of opportunities to expand your business network and to be able to do business with people in our community. And I always say the world needs more peer support. So if there are consultants out there that have an extensive network of CEOs and executives, and they prefer to do their own, put their own group together and offer peer learning to people that they know, then I you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. If it’s appealing to have become part of a community of very successful consultants and business leaders, then. And if it’s appealing to have a proven roadmap to success, then then that’s what would make sense for people who want to explore my Casio forums.
Will Bachman 23:41
I’d love to hear the origin story. Take us back. How did you initially get the idea to organize your own forum? And then how did that evolve into, you know, multiple forums and the institution that you run today?
Nancy MacKay 23:58
Well, the origin story started, when I got invited to be a speaker at a CEO peer group meeting here in Vancouver, one of my clients was a member of a CEO group. And I just completed a major strategic planning project with his organization. And he called me up and he said, Nancy, I’d love to have you come and speak to a bunch of guys that I hang out with that are my CEO group. And I thought, Okay, I’m happy to do anything to support you. And so I did a presentation to his CEO group, which at the time, did not allow women into the CEO group. And after my presentation, the guy said, Oh, we loved your presentation, and the person that was chairing that group came to me afterwards and he said, Nancy, we loved your presentation. Ted speaks so highly of you. Would you like to become our forum chair? I’m going to be retiring from this and I nearly fell off my chair because they I knew that they didn’t allow women and I was the first female speaker they ever invited into their group and I said, Look, I don’t have any judgment. At the same time, if you want me to throw my name in the hat to become your chair, then you really need to decide that you’re going to allow women in. And fortunately, and I’m very grateful for those 14 amazing men who many of them are still part of my Casio forums and have been my mentors, that they had a very important meeting and decided to allow women in and I got selected as their chair and I started sharing their group and the Casio forums is a beneficial Corporation, we take a stand on Diversity and Inclusion and Social Change happens one person at a time, and those guys created the opportunity for me, and that’s how my Casio forms got started. And that group still exists today, I’m no longer their chair, I had to transition out of chairing that group, but and so for the first five years, it was just me, I decided that the world needed more peer support. After I started sharing that one group, one day of my time and 14 CEOs, they would all leave the meetings with greater confidence and courage and, and really learning from each other that they didn’t have to sacrifice their and their health and their important personal family relationships. And, and so I decided the world needs more peer support, and that I was going to build 10 of the CEO groups across Canada, so that it wouldn’t have to be lonely at the top, at least for the CEOs that I was working with. And that took about five years. And so once I achieved that goal, then my husband has been my business partner since day one. I said to him, Look, you know, I think this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be populating the world with inspiring leaders, I want to be finding other like minded consultants who have a passion for working with CEOs and executives. And I want to train them on exactly what I learned how to do over the past five years. And I want to help them achieve really great success with their own businesses. And I want them to have the, the fulfillment and the development that I’ve had. So that was the beginning of my Casio forums where we decided that we were going to be building out and scaling up the business and, and started partnering with consultants and certifying them and training them on how to build these groups and, and fast forward to today, we have over 60 foreign chairs and hundreds of members across the country. And we’re on a path to 10,000 members around the world, which has always been my dream to be able to offer peer support, and continue to just support business leaders through their journey.
Will Bachman 27:49
Now for someone who’s interested in becoming a forum chair, what is the process? And is this primarily looking for people based in Canada at this point, or just just tell us the process and the qualifications that you’re looking for and and how it works. If someone wants to sign up.
Nancy MacKay 28:08
For anyone interested in learning about how to become a forum chair, they can contact me personally, Nancy at Mackay, CEO forums.com Or they can go to our website, which is Mackay CEO forums.com. And we have a very simple chair capability assessment that people can self assess whether or not they are ideally suited to becoming a form chair. We are currently looking to partner with consultants that are based in BC, Alberta, and Ontario as our primary areas for growth over the next year. And at the same time, we have peer groups, all the way from Victoria to St. John’s, Newfoundland. So any Canadian management consultants interested in learning more open to exploring the opportunity with them?
Will Bachman 29:06
Amazing. What you’re just getting back to the question of, you know, being a forum share, what are you talked earlier about some of the things to do realize that you are not the star? What are some? What are some of your tips of what to avoid doing? So for someone who is facilitating a peer learning group? What are some things not to do?
Nancy MacKay 29:32
Well, this might seem odd, given our audiences management consultants, but the number one mistake Our new chairs make is giving advice and telling people what to do. When nothing wrong with that when someone hires you, too, obviously, prior to starting the Casio forums, I was a very successful, independent consult tend and loved working with CEOs and their top teams on all different aspects of strategy and leadership and, and what have you. But when I became a chair, I had to learn how to be in the room and simply share my experience. Because that’s what people sign up to do they want people telling real stories of their real experiences of what they’ve done. And so it’s really, when I’m in the room sharing my group, it’s never about, here’s what you should do. I’m the smartest person in the room, here’s the three tips on what you need to do. It’s always about here’s what I actually did. And it was a train wreck, or here’s what I did. And it was really successful, or here’s what one of my clients did. And they’re very successful at tackling that problem. So it’s really creating the space for a different approach to influencing. And I had to really learn the importance of sharing experiences telling stories, judgment free, and then I became a much better consultant, actually, once I started sharing these groups, because when I had a CEO coming to me with a problem, I could consider giving the three tips. Or I could consider actually sharing a story about another CEO or sharing my own experience. And I actually found that sharing experience and telling stories created a lot more inspiration for people to take action. And so I’m such a huge believer in McKay. It’s our entire leadership philosophy, we develop the Mackay mastery model for inspired leadership. So that’s the other thing. Well, that’s part of our certification is that we train our chairs on our Mackay mastery model for inspired leadership, which is all about how to inspire yourself every day. And shared experience is one of the 10 key effective leadership areas that we focus on and train all of our members and chairs on time mastery, Eagle mastery, passion, mastering innovation, mastery, social contribution, mastery, Health Mastery, these are all the elements that we believe, are required for business leaders today, to inspire themselves every day. And so we definitely offer that as part of our certification for our chairs, as well as all of our new members who join the Casio forums.
Will Bachman 32:33
How do you advise chairs to keep the meeting on track? So, you know, how do you decide and what what’s sort of the right language to use when, you know if a conversation is meandering, or getting a little bit off track or whatever to say, hey, let’s put that in the parking lot. Or you want to give some freedom to the members to talk about what they want to talk about. But on the other hand, you you know, you have a mission you have one day and you got to get through 14 business problems, right? Everyone is a shear. So how do you tell people to make that call of when something feels like it’s meandering and how, how they step in,
Nancy MacKay 33:14
are one of our key areas of focus with our chairs and members is time mastery. And that happens to be my main area of expertise, as well. I’ve literally coached hundreds of CEOs and consultants and formed chairs on time mastery. So it’s just a huge part of our culture. And so we start on time, we end on time, we are really respectful of people’s time, we don’t waste people’s time. And we literally do time mastery and goal setting with every new member and every new chair, who joins in the Casio forums. So we this is a great question. Well, because it is the heart of our whole leadership philosophy is we all have about 100 waking hours a week. And we all need to be very intentional about how we spend our time where we spend our time who we spend our time with. And in particular, when we’re sharing the peer group meetings, our members expect us to be that person in the room who’s going to literally use a timer. And so we have seven minute breaks during the day, we make sure that we start on time, we end on time that we have a timer each CEO gets five minutes to do their update and put a business issue on the table. And our belief is we have to be exemplars of sharing effective meetings and and then our members take those tools and they bring those tools into their own organizations as well.
Will Bachman 34:47
Super helpful. Nancy, for listeners that want to follow up and learn more about it, where would you point them online? You gave some info earlier but just what it was like to have it here at the end, where it was the best links for people to way to look into
Nancy MacKay 35:01
well two options. I’m happy for anyone to contact me directly at Nancy at Mackay, CEO forms.com. And also we have our website which is Mackay CEO forms.com. And I’m so thrilled to be here with you today will and all of your listeners and grateful for the opportunity.
Will Bachman 35:20
Well Nancy, congratulations on growing such an amazing organization. And thank you so much for joining today.
Nancy MacKay 35:29