Want To Become A Better People Leader?

We learn better in circles than in rows

Let’s Make Sure We Understand A Bit About You

You are here because you are leading the People Team/HR effort for a fast-growth scaling company. Since people are the key driver of a successful startup, you lead an important team. Your personal growth will have a multiplier impact on your company.

  • You are a learner, always looking for ways to do things better
  • You don’t have time for a lot of classroom learning
  • It is up to you to get the right people into your company and make sure they are excited and motivated
  • You structure the organization, which is rapidly changing
  • You hire, you fire, you coach
  • You have a focus on learning and development of the people in your company
  • Being a boss and a human being at the same time is not always easy
  • You think it would be helpful to connect with others that have experience with the same challenges

What Is A Circle?

A circle is a carefully matched, guided, peer group. Keep reading and we’ll tell you a bit about why so many leaders have peer groups. And we’ll explain how and why circles work and what’s involved. If this is of interest, the next step will be to take five minutes to apply, so that we can try to match you with 5-7 diverse peers to form a circle.

How Does A Circle Work?

A circle is a group of six-eight people who are carefully matched to pursue their common goals. Each circle has its own guide, whose job it is to remove friction and keep the group on track and moving quickly towards its learning goals. Once formed, they will:

  • Meet online once every two weeks in a video room
  • Learn some rules and norms that make the meetings structured and impactful
  • Continue to connect in between meetings through a private online forum
  • Pursue a theme, like “leading a team” together
  • Share and continually refine individual goals within the theme
  • Complete short online activities to build key skills for professional and personal learning

Why Do So Many Leaders Have Peer Groups?

Over 100,000 CEOs spend more than a day a month with forums organized by Young President’s Organization, Entrepreneur’s Organization, Vistage or similar organizations. These groups cost $5,000 to $10,000 a year and up. Why?

Peer groups help members solve problems, save them from reinventing wheels, and amplify their knowledge and networks. Moreover, peer groups become something like workout buddies that help members overcome obstacles, stick with a program, and sustain change. Weight Watchers and AA are famous examples. When a peer group jells, it scratches the itch for meaningful, deep, connection. Even though we are linked to more people than ever, we are increasingly isolated. Confiding in a group of peers is fulfilling even as it is worthwhile. It can connect friendship, learning, and earning.

What Will You Get Out of People Leader Circles?

Here are a few likely outcomes:

  • Improved skill in the nuts and bolts of leading teams – coaching, recruiting, setting goals, delegation, fostering collaboration, motivation, handling conflict, and so on
  • A personal advisory board of experienced peers who can help solve problems
  • New approaches to learning that will help you master other skills
  • A confidential forum to discuss issues you can’t comfortably share with colleagues or even family and friends
  • Positive peer pressure to help you follow-through and complete goals
  • Access to diverse viewpoints on your most important challenges
  • Inspiration for driving learning and development within your organization
  • Deep new relationships that will become important to your personal network
  • Improvement with storytelling, listening, feedback, learning, problem-solving, and other “soft” skills

Who Will Your Peers Be?

Anyone that is leading a team of at least four people can apply for People Leader Circles. You must be committed to learning and growing as a leader, have an open mind, and be willing to dedicate time and effort to improving skills. We match based on age, experience, type of company and other factors. Feeling like peers makes it easy to build rapport and respect quickly. But we do try hard to balance commonality with diversity. Diverse experiences fuel learning. Diversity gives you the benefit of ideas you may not have had, from different companies and points of view.

We also try to find peers with common goals. This way, your circle is likely to find value in staying together over time. A team leader in a law firm that rarely adds people may have different goals than a team leader in a venture-backed tech startup. The longer you are together, the deeper your conversations will go. You may change themes together and explore whole new topics without having to incur the cost of getting to know a new circle. We are always looking at other factors that make a match work. In fact, we will not offer you a circle unless it exceeds our standards. Otherwise, it isn’t worth the time for either of us!

What Are The Topics?

The common theme is leading a team. Within the “theme” each learner will have their own personal challenges and goals. Sometimes, circles elect to sign up for courses that have a fixed curriculum. But more often, the group will create the curriculum in real-time to address common or specific challenges. Members share resources with each other over slack. And the guide and circles team often bring in highly-rated pieces of content relevant to your issues.

Circles are not about academic learning. You work on real challenges, professional and personal. We share ways of doing things better, ways to move quicker and get more done with less trial and error. And by applying best practices from learning science, we help make sure that the skills and learnings you cover stick.

To be more specific, it is likely that your circle will cover topics like how to evaluate, motivate and coach staff? How do you get a team to “jell” and collaborate well? How to build great collaboration with other parts of the company? How do you set good goals? Delegate? Manage work/life balance for yourself and your team? Handle the lines between friendship and being a boss? Manage up? Sideways? Improve productivity? And so on.

Over time, some circles move together into new but related themes like communication skills like giving presentations, storytelling, persuasion or active listening. The list goes on: strategy, design thinking, popular technologies, negotiations and more.

How Much Does It Cost To Join?

You are invited to join a circle at absolutely no cost to you. We are offering a number of limited places for individuals that have a great fit.

We have not set pricing for People Leader Circles, but we are working hard to make it both low-cost and impactful. The range will be about 1/10th of the approximately $10,000 CEOs pay for YPO. That is, less than $100/month. Eventually, we will ask if you are willing to pay to continue. Most companies are happy to reimburse this as a training expense.

The Team, Science and Philosophy Behind Circles

Circles is part of a new movement in training. To sum it up, the idea is that we learn better in circles than in rows.

Nielson’s Chief Neuroscientist Carl Marci brings neuroscience-based learning techniques and recent research showing how adults can rewire their surprisingly plastic brains.

Chess champion and martial arts champion Josh Waitzkin blends this science with the practical wisdom he gained from achieving top performance in two diverse disciplines.

Motorola’s legendary Chief Learning Officer Bill Wiggenhorn and founder of University of Pennsylvania’s Chief Learning Officer Master’s Degree Program Doug Lynch add expertise in how modern corporations can leapfrog schools in applying these techniques.

Verne Harnish, founder of peer-group focused EO, is a leader in learning for businesses that are scaling up fast. Charles Fadell, based at the Harvard Ed School, author of “21st Century Skills” and “4-Dimensional Learning” has contributed a framework to target the truly impactful skills that translate into success.

Mo Fathelbab, author of Forum: The Secret Advantage of Leaders, Shirzad Chamine, author of Positive Intelligence, and Kayley Klemp, author of Drama-Free Office are all collaborating to hone the Circles peer discussion processes.

Philip Schmidt of MIT Media Lab, has demonstrated at P2P University how peer groups can raise the completion rates of online courses from 3% to over 50%.

Sean Duffy, CEO of Omada Health, places thousands of diagnosed pre-diabetic patients in peer groups each week. In double-blind studies,Sean has proven that peer groups are more effective than any other treatment on the market to produce the behavioral changes needed to prevent diabetes.

We have many other sources of inspiration including social learning, active learning, communities of practice, the Harkness Method, and the list goes on. Our philosophy is to share what we are learning openly, in the hopes of contributing to a transformational update to training systems around the world – helping individuals achieve their full potential in order to meet humanity’s increasing challenges.

  • Carl Marci

    Brain science PhD, Entrepreneur, Philosopher

  • Philipp Schmidt

    Peer group and learning innovation, MIT Media Lab

  • Di-Ann Eisnor

    Neogeography pioneer, Serial entrepreneur

  • Verne Harnish

    EO Founder, Entrepreneur, Bestseller, Scale up expert

Get Started

Ready to connect with a like-minded group of peers? Answer a few basic questions and then we will get back to you as soon as we have matched you with a peer circle.