How Entrepreneurs Organization Forum Changed my Life

“Dan, I found our tribe and you gotta join this group!”

These were the first words that I blurted out when I saw my friend Dan Heuertz at an Iowa State Cyclone tailgate party. (Go Cyclones!)Mike and Dan at a Cyclones game Dan and I had met in college at a bar that he was running and eventually would own. Both of us were wild-eyed, early-stage entrepreneurs trying to find our way in the big city of Chicago and eager to help each other be successful.

The Beginning of my Entrepreneurs’ Organization Experience

The tribe I was talking about was Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization. When I joined, I was immediately blown away by my new friends. We were kindred spirits, sharing in many of the same fears, dreams, and frustrations. And we had something else in common: we were solely responsible for our own futures. If we messed things up, there was nobody to blame but ourselves. We were truly the heroes in our own stories.

Today, YEO has become Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Members will tell you the best thing about the community is the opportunity to join a forum.

What is a Forum?

Forums are member-moderated small groups that meet monthly to commiserate about issues that are unique to business owners. Dan and I both were placed in forums and today, many of our best friends are forum mates.

I like to say that intelligence comes from learning from your own mistakes, but wisdom often comes from the experience of others. Intelligence is painful and leaves scars and bruises. Wisdom is a gift, given generously––and usually with a dose of humility––from someone who wants to keep you from making the same mistakes they have made. Sharing wisdom is the essence of forum and what makes it so wonderful for business leaders.

Running a business can be brutally difficult and lonely. For me, forums were the place I could go to talk about the leadership issues that most of my friends and family didn’t understand.

Mike and sons attend a cyclones gameWho do you turn to with your most difficult issues?

A few years ago, my wife was diagnosed with brain cancer. I remember the gut-wrenching family meeting when we told our two sons that our journey had just become more complicated, and that ‘mom’s prognosis was not good’. For the next 17 months, I held my wife’s hand as she walked towards heaven while doing everything I could to be a good dad and business leader. My forum mates literally and figuratively carried me through those months. They somehow helped me turn the worst season of my life into a privilege.

My Forums – Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Young Presidents’ Organization

Joining forums has been the best business decision I have ever made. I’ve been in multiple forums for nearly three decades now in both Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). The relationships I have formed in these groups have made me a better leader, partner, father, and friend.

Why Flourish?

I believe my purpose is to connect people and possibility. Member-moderated forums can be excellent, but they can also be inefficient and lack a balanced perspective. While I struck gold in my Entrepreneurs’ Organization experience, I hear about inconsistency in the experiences of others who have joined.

My goal in creating the Flourish Advisory Boards is to make sure ALL C-suite leaders can have the same life-improving experience I’ve had when I needed it most. Flourish Advisory Boards connects thousands of C-level leaders who need other C-level leaders to help them see their greatest challenges and dreams through a different lens.

It’s no surprise that Dan and I are still close buddies. Both of us have gone on to start and grow over a dozen businesses and hold leadership positions in EO and YPO. And we both credit our forum buddies for making us heroes in our own stories. Our business and personal stories are worth telling.

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