When is the last time you had a ‘What if…?’ conversation?


A lot’s changed since my last post. I said ‘good-bye’ to my Vistage group in Baltimore and started a brand new CEO group in Chicago. Both the transition of the JulieheadshotBaltimore group to my friend and chair colleague Ed Robinson [Ed’s blog: http://capacity-building.com/author/robined/%5D  was as smooth as can be, and so was starting the new group. Changes are rarely easy, but when handled with sensitivity and respect, disruption is lessened.

Not that this blog gets thousands of unique visitors (although a lot more than I thought it would)  this is a site where I send candidates for Vistage membership or to learn my view of what it’s like to be a chair, so it is something I want to keep current.

And now, one year later, I can give a more complete report about what it is like to say farewell to a long-standing group and begin anew in a brand new city (to me).

When you chair a Vistage group it’s much more than a ‘practice’ or a ‘business’. We come to know our members in ways that are much more toastpersonal. We feel some stake in the triumphs as well as  the pain of the inevitable stumbles. So, building a group, sustaining a group, and holding one-to-one meetings with our members along with facilitating the group meeting, makes it hard to say good-bye. Especially after 13 years with many of the same people. But we did just that in February of this year during our retreat in Florida. We had a lovely farewell dinner on Valentines Day (yes, the spouses agreed) and they gave me a lovely John Hardy ring which I wear regularly. We toasted each other with specific examples of how we’ve changed each others’ lives and my eyes were moist most of the evening.

The idea for the transition to Chicago came about as my husband and I were having dinner in a northern suburb of Chicago on Sheridan Road. He pointed out a condo building overlooking Lake Michigan and commented that it had been one of his favorite places to live. At that time, we otherwise divided our time between Annapolis and Florida, but my husband commuted to Chicago once a month for his Vistage group.  Whew! The plan was for me to continue my Baltimore group even after the house sold and we would spend the rest of our time in Florida. A workable yet complicated plan. Although we were finding it burdensome to get on separate airplanes twice a month, we both love the work and weren’t willing to let it go.

Curious, I pulled out my iPhone and called up the Realtor.com app and discovered several units for sale.  As luck would have it (for us) the condo housing market hadn’t begun the upswing so our timing was perfect.

“What if,” I said, “I built a Vistage group in Chicago?”  

This is much easier said than done, but the vision was set and the pieces started falling into place. We got the cart a little before the horse by buying a unit before we knew this was all going to come together, but like a young filly, once I had the bit in my mouth there was no going back to the barn. It was going to happen.

And with 100% focus, the support of highly respected Vistage members, and four great events from January through April, this new group launched in April – about four months from the time we had that ‘what if’ conversation.

Have you had a ‘What if?” conversation lately? For some, the natural response to a ‘What if…’ can steer toward the negative and all the reasons whatever the idea is can’t work. If that’s you, think of your ‘what if…’, set the time for ten minutes, and list all the upsides of taking the risk. As negative thoughts enter your mind, push them aside.

What if… you did?



A room with a view!

What is YOUR ‘What if…’?





One thought on “When is the last time you had a ‘What if…?’ conversation?

  1. Julie,

    Truly impressive that you were able to turn your “What If’ into a reality that works for you and Richard.

    Chicago to Florida – nice!

    D. Robinson

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