New Orleans Peer Advisory Groups

Peer advisory groups are a must for any CEO or business owner.

Access to a “Peer Advisory Group” is an important tool for you to improve your effectiveness as a CEO or business owner.

When having to deal with a major issue or opportunity, the CEO of a business is often in a very lonely position. Membership in a trade association group grants you valuable industry knowledge, but it does not allow you to share your innermost competitive thoughts, feelings, issues, nor your company’s strengths, plans and vulnerabilities.

Normally, for advice on major issues and opportunities we turn to our regular trusted advisors — our CPAs, our lawyers and certain persons within our own organizations. Those trusted advisors, however, might not — or likely cannot — be totally impartial or objective because they also see you as a source of their fees or salary. Many successful executives and business owners deal with this by having confidential advisors outside of their organizations.

One source can be a peer advisory group composed of non-competing CEOs who can relate to you and your situation.

Peer advisory groups exist for the single purpose of assisting each member in becoming a more successful executive, leader and decision maker. Groups are focused solely on members and their organizations. Peer advisory groups are dedicated to helping you deal with your internal issues and opportunities that generally cannot be discussed outside the company — and often even inside the company. Such outside advice is often critical to objectively making the best decisions for you and your company.

A fundamental aspect of a peer advisory group is absolute confidentiality on everything discussed in its meetings. This condition is critical for members to be comfortable enough to reveal their innermost concerns and feelings, which is fundamental to enabling the rest of the group to understand the member’s issues and concerns. Only then can members be positioned to offer their best insights, ideas and considerations.

Within such a group all issues, questions, challenges and opportunities can be placed on the table — both those that may have just arisen and old ones that you may have put off dealing with for years. Outside of this group, we feel we must be effective cheerleaders presenting our companies in their best light. But inside this group is where we deal with:

1. What keeps us awake at night, as well as our most exciting opportunities;

2. Actions that for years our gut has been telling us to do, but we have never been able to bring ourselves to do;

3. Challenging the undiscussed and unexplored assumptions behind our major decisions and existing modus operandi;

4. Dealing with our own internal challenges and gremlins, not just those of our reports; and

5. Identifying and making the growth and educational changes within ourselves necessary to accomplish our major personal and organizational goals.

In a peer advisory group these goals are achieved through regular — especially monthly — group meetings that free you from the daily consuming pressures of viewing your business from the inside out by enabling you to elevate yourself to the 40,000-foot level and see your business from the outside in.

How do you become a member of a peer advisory group? There are organizations that support and help create such groups that are listed further below. Or you can form your own. Many CEOs already have a few other similar executives from whom they believe can receive impartial advice and with whom they occasionally consult. They can be the basis for creating your own group.

The five necessary principles of a successful peer advisory group are:

1. Select the right peers — ideally 6 to 12 that respect each other and have a strong desire to learn and help.

2. Create a safe environment — where there is absolute confidentiality and no negative criticism that promotes honest, unbiased suggestions.

3. Utilize a “smart guide” — someone who is appropriately trained or self educated on creating and enforcing the important principles of a peer advisory group.

4. Foster valuable interaction, which is interaction that is focused on the problems and opportunities of each member. Here, members have both a willingness to ask the tough questions underlying the issues and a willingness to hear those penetrating questions. A good group not only attempts to answer your questions, but questions your answers.

5. Be accountable. Once the group helps you reach a decision, be willing to report your progress or difficulties back to the group.

One of the highlights of my business career would have been impossible but for the help of my first peer advisory group through my membership in YPO. The achievement was the first national initial public offering (NASDAQ IPO) of a Louisiana company in 10 years. I still benefit as a continuing member of that group.

Remember, the company you keep is a major contributor to your growth and success. Consider utilizing a confidential peer advisory group.


National CEO and business owner organizations that support peer advisory groups

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)

Members: 12,000+ in 53 countries
Highlights: global events, leadership-development programs, online entrepreneur forum and executive education opportunities
EO Louisiana: 54 members as of Dec. 1, 2017

Vistage International

Members: 21,000+ in 20 countries
Highlights: Peer advisory groups of 12-16 executives, one-on-one coaching, world-class speakers, proprietary research

Young Professionals Organization (YPO)

Members: 25,000+ in 130+ countries
Highlights: Ability to join local or regional chapters nationwide

Get a copy of “The Power of Peers” by Shapiro and Bottany, follow the rules and form your own group!

Vincent Liuzza chairs the newest of six Vistage CEO peer advisory groups in Greater New Orleans. He is a past chairman of the Louisiana Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization and was active in the establishment of YPO Forums (peer advisory groups) within the chapter’s membership. As one of 400 Certified Turnaround Professionals in U.S., Liuzza is the only C.T.P. in Louisiana. He specializes in turnarounds and corporate renewal. He can be reached at (504) 919-1401 or