Ken Jacobson of Vistage explains how his CEO focused company can help you

Who are you?

Ken Jacobson, CEO of Vistage International UK and Ireland, a fully owned subsidiary of US-based Vistage International, the world's largest chief executive membership organisation.

What do you do?

We are a professional services company. We enable chief executives to work together to realise their full potential. We help our members achieve better leadership, decisions and results.

What does this mean in practice?

We have 13-14,000 members worldwide. In the UK, we have 650 members, who form around 60 groups. These groups each have, say, 15 members who are chief executives. They meet on a monthly basis in meetings with a Vistage chair and act as each other's non-execs or board of directors.

Often they are isolated as heads of their businesses, so we provide them with a completely trustworthy scenario where, for one day a month, they can have a meeting together in total confidence and discuss any issue or question about their business. So it's a permanent non-exec or advisory team of 14 or 15 other local chief executives, which allows you to end up making the best decisions.

What size company suits you?

We like to have a range of companies because it adds experience to the groups. But typically, the average member has 50 employees and a £10-15m revenue. We also have muchsmallercompanies,much smaller companies, with less than £2m revenue, and larger corporates too.

Why should I care?

Your business will do much better if you're a Vistage member, as evidenced by countless testimonials from people who have sold for large amounts, people who have grown quicker or people who have made better decisions generally. For the chief executive, there's the personal reason of being able to spend more time on the business and less in the business. So it gives them more time for their personal lives too. And it's often difficult for chief executives to share their burden in absolute confidentiality.

What can you do for me that I can't do for myself?

We can act as your friends, your confidants and your coach. We're not like a consultant where we'll come in and go away – this is a long-term relationship. We can also provide as many experts to speak with as you want at no extra charge. Every month, you can also have a speaker at your meetings; a world-class specialist who gives great advice to take away and implement in your business. Whatever your issue, we will have the experience.

What mistakes will you prevent me making?

Making the wrong decisions on any subject. We'll make you think, we'll challenge you and we'll question you, so your mistakes will be minimised and will have less financial effect. Any area – hiring, strategy, exiting, succession planning – all those things are our bread and butter.

How else will you save me money?

You pay a fee of about £10,000, but most of our members will say they've saved that hundreds of times over. You can save money on negotiating or getting better value for any investment you're making, as well as in many other areas.

Why should I trust you?

Everything is in total confidence; all monthly meetings are behind closed doors and nothing we discuss goes any further. People often discuss intimate and confidential aspects of their business. We've never had a breach of confidence incident. Everyone needs to trust someone outside his or her immediate circle.

What will it cost me?

Membership costs £10,000 a year. For that you get the chair, one-to-one conversations with the chair every month, a yearly retreat and access to all our electronic resources as well as all our other members worldwide.


Company: Vistage International UK

Based: Winchester

Clients: 650 clients



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