Connecting with a Room Full of CEOs: Put on a Workshop

Posted by George Sandmann on Jul 13, 2019 6:45:00 AM

Let’s follow up on the March post about connecting with multiple CEOs using a Discover Workshop. In a Discover Workshop, you lead a conversation with a room full of CEOs during which you analyse their companies, identifying strengths and weaknesses. These workshops cause an average 65% of CEOs to ask for a follow-on conversation. It would be great to create this kind of results, wouldn’t it?

This week I had the opportunity to help put on a Discover Workshop with a Vistage CEO group. What a tremendous meeting. Vistage is a terrific organization, helping CEOs with their business (and sometimes personal) problems. One of Vistage’s mottoes is “serve the whole CEO.”achievement-3481967_1920

There were 15 CEOs in the room. These women and men meet monthly and share the most intimate details of their business lives and performance --the foundation for an exceptional workshop. The group chair is a knowledgeable and dedicated pro, and was excited about the workshop and results --coincidentally, he was one of the Chairs who participated in the terrific beta we ran with Vistage a few years ago.

The workshop was led by my friend and longstanding CoreValue customer CPA Len Miller. Len is a superb practitioner, an expert in accounting and tax (as you’d expect) and more importantly Len is an expert at helping clients grow their businesses. Len is also a Certified Business Exit Consultant with Pinnacle Equity Solutions, the organization dedicated to helping clients grow and sell companies that meet their personal wealth goals.

A Discover Workshop can follow several formats, anywhere from one to three hours. I hopped on a flight, and supported Len through a two hour conversation about operational best practices[1], market forces, and the operational forces at work inside the group’s companies. Workshops leverage CoreValue Discover, the initial assessment of company strength and value, which serves as the meeting script. CoreValue also provides speaker’s notes, presentation slides, coaching, and participant surveys --everything you need to deliver a knockout event.

The format is straightforward. Intro of the speaker, define goals for the meeting, explain the flow --that together we will talk through the initial analysis, taking questions and comments along the way, and each person will get a custom, private report. Walking through the questions with the group is your opportunity to share anecdotes about your experiences helping companies. Each CEO logs into the Discover survey, enters their own information, and generates a personal and private report. Behind the scenes, CoreValue’s technology aggregates and anonymizes the data, allowing you to present some powerful insights.

In addition to groups like Vistage, where would you get groups of CEOs? We've seen group made up of:

  • Clients of a particular CPA or Management Consulting firm
  • Local Business Journal invitees
  • The collective clients of a referral group
  • Business-owning clients of a financial advisory firm

There are lots of paths to get several CEOs into a workshop.

In workshops where the CEOs don't know each other, the focus is on group results. With this Vistage group the CEOs are used to both bragging and airing their dirty laundry with each other, which allowed us to get into the weeds on specific company issues. The meeting was incredibly productive.

Based on conversations with the participants over lunch, several are interested in doing a deep-dive analysis (kudos Len). The deep-dive develops the information presented in the initial report, powering a comprehensive report. They see the win, and want help.

Vistage Chairs often invite local CoreValue-powered consultants to run a workshop. The conversation and information is simply superb --Wednesday’s Chair asked if we would come back and present to his other 3 groups. Chairs and group members alike get data that isn't available from any other source... Quantified analysis that shows which speakers to invite, what topics to drill into, what articles to share, what problems to solve.

What’s in it for you? Run a workshop and you'll be getting introductions to a room full of CEOs. Each of them will generate an executive report on their business (with your logo on top) showing the exact bottlenecks slowing their success… and highlighting your skill breaking through those bottlenecks to #drivegrowth.

Let's highlight a couple of advisors who have terrific experience putting on these workshops.

CPA Marie Benedetto out of Hartford Connecticut specializes in leading Discover Workshops for CPA firms and for Community Banks. She's a terrific asset, skilled at facilitating Executive Retreats. This experience is perfect for helping CEOs get the most out of their Discover Workshop. Says Marie: “I think in terms of CORE. C – Create Dialogue that Resonates with Business Owners/Executives. O – Optimize Operational Excellence. R – Reveal Top Priorities. E – Engage Business Owners/Executives in the Journey to Optimized Value. CoreValue workshops corroborate the the business owner's/executive's inherent knowledge of the CORE areas… The energy and enthusiasm created sustains momentum to ‘discover’ more.”

Larry Prince is a skilled management consultant in northern New Jersey, and just ran a Discover workshop with a Vistage group. Here are CEO testimonials from the workshop participant surveys:

"The process validated for me what I have been thinking are the roadblocks to growth - now I can address them with greater confidence."

"I did not realize that our Sales and Marketing process is not set up for the growth we seek."

"Discover helped me realize that we need to document our Operational Processes so we don't leave success up to chance."

"The process identified a red flag that my Senior Leadership Team is not collaborating - and that it is up to me to change this."

What are the results?

  • Marie reported that in her most recent Workshop 12 of the 15 participants indicated that they'd like a deep-dive analysis
  • When I was in Philadelphia with an M&A and Management Consulting Firm, we had 20 of 25 CEOs ask for a follow-up meeting
  • Larry is discussing engagement parameters with several of the participants in his most recent meeting
  • Ed Wandtke is a CoreValue Instructor for NACVA and CTI classes. Ed converts 70% of Discover conversations into paid projects, and 86% of those projects into some form or long-term engagements
  • Mark Haas, CoreValue Instructor and leader of the Association for Enterprise Growth is using this process to connect the expertise of the AEG’s 40+ professionals with CEO clients

The results seem like magic, they’re not. These great results are simply what happens when you have a well prepared and systematic discussion about a CEO’s company, their lives and goals, and risks to growth and value. It's about creating trust, and speaking to the CEO's 'why.' What's in it for the CEOs? Let's look at a recent group:

  • The average business had company-specific risks costing the shareholders $2,000,000.00 -- two million reasons they need your help
  • The average company had a CoreValue Business Rating 65 out of 100; it takes an 80 or higher to get a good deal and a smooth M&A transaction
  • This means participants are out-performing the market by 12% --but are on average still 20 points shy of being high growth/high value gazelles! By helping them improve their score, you’re unlocking growth
  • The top 5 of the 18 value drivers were 43% --almost half-- of the average value gap. This means than an engagement to establish best practices in just these 5 areas could capture $861,000.00 of equity value. How’s that for an ROI on your services?

Recap: if you’re a CPA or Management Consultant you have several opportunities to connect with potential clients. Invite current clients to a workshop, and prove your firm’s value. You can also connect with Vistage, The Alternative Board, or Renaissance Executive Forums and lead a powerful meeting highlighting bottlenecks to growth and the path to fixing them. Most importantly, you’ll be making your value clear to each CEO in the room.

Here’s a link to the knowledgebase article on Discover Workshop Marketing Events.

Special thanks to:

Len Miller CPA, CBEC. Leonard J. Miller & Associates,

Marie L. Benedetto CPA, MST. Innovative Business Solutions, LinkedIn

Larry Prince MA, Ed. M. Prince Leadership,

We’d love to hear from you, please comment below or email


CoreValue Discover Workshops will be one of the topics covered during CoreValue’s annual advisor conference --for a limited time, you can take advantage of discounted early bird registration. Click here for details and to register.


[1] Operational best practices are codified in the Private Business Standards born at MIT, and are the basis for the CoreValue® methodology. CoreValue, US Patent 9,607,274 © 2019 CoreValue Holdings LLC.

Topics: Case Study, Growth Advisor

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