Being a chair is rewarding in so many ways. We are our own boss; we get to be intimately involved in the lives of our members; we get to continue to learn from world-class experts in their fields and we can earn from $5-$10k a month, based on group size, for five days work a month (once the group is up and running). If you want to earn more, chairs who have multiple groups, and or bring the Vistage experience inside of companies, can earn considerably more – again based on group size and type. Vistage corporate handles billing, schedules the speakers we request, provides ongoing chair training and the ability to be a part of a larger community. We chairs have our own group meetings where we share best-practices and sharpen our saws.
It’s a good model and yet, like any kind of business, building a group takes a lot of hard work and an illusive aptitude that folks at headquarters have been trying to figure out forever.
Just because someone can run a business, does not necessarily mean they can be a Vistage chair.
My colleagues may think otherwise, but I think it comes down to two things beyond the requisite resume full of accomplishments.
1. Are you a really good listener?
2. Is the glass half full? Or half empty?
That last one I heard from the person who interviewed me oh so long ago. She sent me through a battery of psychological testing, video interviews, intense chair training and then said,
“Truth is, I can tell if a candidate is going to make it if they are ‘glass half full’ types. If they start complaining about obstacles, and the glass is half empty, I think: Uh oh.”
In the course of my 11 years as a Vistage chair I’ve nominated five chair candidates. Two have active chair practices, one in Florida and another in Baton Rouge and I have three others in various stages of the process. I’m careful about who I nominate because I don’t want anyone I care about to fail. This job just isn’t for everyone.
What’s the secret? If you want to be a chair, think about when you are in conversation with people. How much of the time are you talking? How much of the time are you listening and asking follow-up questions? If you need to be the center of attention, and the smartest person in the room – this isn’t good or bad or right or wrong, it’s just an indication that you wouldn’t be a successful chair (in my opinion).
If you are naturally inquisitive, non-judgmental, with an extra healthy dose of persistence, then give me a call and I’ll gladly talk you through the process of becoming a chair.
Of all the various jobs I’ve held, I think being a radio Talk Show Host probably was the most applicable experience I’ve had to being a chair. I was the morning host of a 50,000 Watt station covering the entire state of Iowa. It was just me, a microphone, and our call-in audience (before cell phones, mind you!). I had to learn what would compel the audience to light up those phone lines. What questions would get to a meaty and lively discussion?
My path is my path. There are chairs all over the world, each of whom have come to this place with a very different set of skills and experience. I’ve marveled at the diversity assembled at international chair conferences…a retired military officer, now chair, may be seated next to a long-haired former therapist, who also is a chair. They and their groups couldn’t be more different, and yet here we are.
If this hasn’t scared you away, but rather is kind of exciting, contact me and l’ll go into more detail about just what’s in this half-full glass. It could be just the right fit.