Caroline Santos had worked hard to build her small business. She started in the 2nd bedroom of her house, working at nights and on weekends while she held her day job to pay the bills. It was two years before she could afford to resign from her day job and focus solely on her custom jewelry business. Then the business really took off. Two years later and she finally had what felt like a real business – an office, seven employees, loyal customers, a written business plan and best of all, profits!
Caroline arrived at work one morning to find that one of her employees had stolen a significant amount of jewelry and left town. A few days later, her business partner – a friend for 10 years, announced that she was leaving to start her own business, as a competitor! Caroline was angry, overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. Enter Caroline’s peer team.
Caroline had joined an organization called EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) six months earlier. As part of her membership, she was assigned to a forum – a group of 10 non-competing entrepreneurs that met monthly to discuss business issues. Caroline had grown to value her forum as a source of knowledge, ideas and sometimes, an empathetic ear. Caroline didn’t want to wait till next month to ask her forum for help and she knew she could call an emergency meeting of her forum. So she put out the call for help and later that afternoon, she had nine fellow business owners sitting at a table with her as she walked through the messy situation.
Three hours later she had a plan, developed through the connections, ideas and experiences of her fellow forum members. It was more than she could have accomplished on her own in three weeks. And it included a plan to protect herself from a future repetition of the same mess.
The power is in the peer team – the opportunity to talk with someone who is or has been in the same situation.
Peer teams are not a new concept. Informal peer teams have been meeting for hundreds of years – artists, scientists,musicians, religious groups, sports enthusiasts. Regardless of the common interest that brings these people together, they find comfort, inspiration and knowledge through their association.
Consider Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), founded in 1935 by Bill W. Today, this organization is a worldwide community with an estimated two million members. What these people have in common is a disease called alcoholism. What they gain from AA is hope for a better future and support from other people who have experienced the exact, same disease.
Consider Weight Watchers, an organization dedicated to helping people achieve and maintain their ideal weight. What these people have in common is a desire to lose weight. They achieve accountability through weekly weigh-ins and they get support through weekly meetings. Would it help them lose weight to talk with a thin person who has never been overweight in their lives? Of course not! The power is in the peer team – the opportunity to talk with someone who is or has been in the same situation. A fellow overweight person can offer knowledge, ideas, pitfalls and suggestions on how to succeed at weight loss. Then, they can support each other as they strive to achieve their goals.
Peer team members have an inherent respect for each other because they all share many of the same experiences. It is significantly more valuable to get advice from someone who has lived through the same thing you are experiencing.
Consider joining a peer team for an area of your life where you could benefit from the experiences of others. Discover the benefits of this powerful new experience as you open the door to a unique opportunity to learn and grow.