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Posted: May 07, 2013

The power of peers

...especially for entrepreneurs

Brad Feld

I was recently at an event called SERGE (Seasoned Entrepreneurs Gathering Exchange). I co-founded it with two long time friends, Martin Babinec (founder of Trinet) and Keith Alper (founder of Creative Producers Group). Martin, Keith and I have known each other since the mid-1990s when we were much younger entrepreneurs playing leadership roles at the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (now simply “EO”).

We each invited about 10 entrepreneurs and their partners to the event. 50 people showed up – 25 entrepreneurs and their partners – and we spent two days on Miami Beach hanging out and covering a lot of different topics. All of us were between the ages of 40 and 50 (+/- a few years), have each had at least one successful business, and were from all over the U.S. and in plenty of different industries.

We had a solid 12 hours spread over two days in a conference room where the following eight topics were discussed.

  • How Will You Measure Your Life?
  • Mentor Manifesto
  • Impact in the Public Interest – Doing Something That Matters
  • Finding and Managing High Impact Board Members
  • B Corps – Leveraging Social Purpose To Drive A Business
  • Setting Up Family Office to Manage Diversified Portfolio
  • Leading the Team: CEO Habits That Set The Pace
  • Maximizing Impact of Your Angel Investing

One of led on each topic (for example, I kicked things off with “How Will You Measure Your Life?” – talked for about 15 – 30 minutes, and then facilitated a discussion for the balance of an hour.

It was amazing. If you’ve ever been in an organization like YEO, YPO, EO, Birthing of Giants, or Gathering of Titans, it was like a “super forum”. Two days with peers, talking confidentially and intimately about a wide range of issues, and getting to know each other at a different level. In this case, there were three intersecting groups (mine, Martin’s, and Keith’s) so you got the added bonus of meeting a set of new people that were highly vetted to be your peers that you could immediately trust and engage with.

Partners were included. Some – like my wife, Amy – participated for most of it. Others didn’t. This was the only big miss – we should have worked harder to include all the partners in the entire discussion, and have several of them lead topics. Next time.

Once again I was reminded of the power for entrepreneurs of spending time with your peers outside of the craziness of the daily schedule. Fifty people invested two days of their life in this event – the feedback I’ve heard so far was awesome. And – for me personally – it was very rewarding.

If you are an entrepreneur, do yourself a favor and find a peer group. If you don’t know where to start, try Entrepreneurs Organization. You’ll thank me in 10 years.

Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur for more than 20 years. Prior to co-founding the Boulder-based Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and Intensity Ventures, a company that helped launch and operate software companies. Brad is a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship and writes widely read and well respected blogs at www.feld.com and www.askthevc.com. He holds bachelor's and master's of science degrees from from MIT. Contact him at brad@feld.com

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