Kathy McCuskey, CEO, Yamamoto, Minneapolis
“The best way to describe my Vistage experience is it’s a time for you to slow down and think about your business. I find myself scribbling notes and developing ideas for Yamamoto during those sessions.” The perspectives and insights from other members have been invaluable.
Kathy also looks forward to her one-to-one coaching sessions with Brian. “It gives me a chance to free think with my Vistage chair about a particular issue and get targeted advice on how to handle those issues,” Kathy explained.
“Brian is part businessman, part psychologist, part father, and part friend. We talk about business issues primarily. If I had personal or family stuff I wanted to talk about that was impacting business, he would be open to that, too. Brian challenges me when I need it and supports me when I need support. He’s a great mentor and helps me when I’m stuck to find my own solutions to my business and leadership challenges.”
Read the complete story here: Kathy McKuskey
Steve Ludvigson, President, Cerasis, Eagan
Steve draws ideas, and value from every pillar of the Vistage experience. “It’s a matter of being able to take a piece from the speakers, a piece from the executive sessions, and a piece from your one-to-ones to pull together an answer that solves a problem,” Steve said. “But in the end,” Steve said, “It’s not the way you solve a problem, it’s about the way you can get it implemented.”
“One of the most satisfying things for me in Vistage is to understand that you think you might know everything, but you don’t, but neither does anybody else,” he observed. Steve said Vistage has helped him realize that he needs to make decisions in his business based on the information he has at his immediate disposal. The business opportunity may pass by if I wait for all the information I need to make a decision,” he shared.
Read the complete story here: Steve Ludvigson
John Prosser, President, Automotive Concepts, Minneapolis
John discovered Vistage six and half years ago when it was recommended to him by his brother. He liked the opportunity to be in a group with CEOs running companies larger than his own, as well similar sized firms. “We do a lot of problem-solving for each other,” he shared. “What’s interesting is listening to everybody’s opinion on how they would approach that problem.”
He’s also found plenty of value from Vistage speakers. “We have professional speakers that come in for three-fourths of the sessions. These are high-level people who are some of the best business speakers in the country,” he shared. He said the speakers have talked to his group on scores of subjects, ranging from how to solve a business problem, how to run HR and how to hire people.
Read the complete story here: John Prosser
CEO Jay Coughlan, CEO, XRS Corp., Minneapolis
“I’ve been a CEO for some time now, but I keep learning. The day I stop learning is the day my arrogance gets in the way.” While leading XRS on the journey of becoming an enterprise app company, he discovered Vistage. Jay credits Vistage chair Brian Davis with helping him deal with a range of issues, many which focus on working with investors and various stakeholders in the public company. “Brian has been a great partner in challenging my thinking and helping me to reframe issues. He has been a tremendous resource in helping me assess my leadership team and in formulating strategies to influence my board.”
Read the complete story here: Jay Coughlan
Mike Steidle, CEO, Ivystone Group, Minneapolis
Learning from businesses outside of his industry has helped Mike improve his own business. For instance, he has seen how other CEOs have benefited from adding critical positions to their firms that have improved overall company performance. “We added an essential recruiting position after I saw how the position positively affected another Vistage company. That saved us a lot of time by short circuiting the learning curve,” shared Mike.
Brian Davis, Mike’s Vistage chair, is another reason Mike will continue to invest his time in the Vistage experience. Mike shared he takes advantage of Brian’s background and experience a little differently than other members. “I use Brian for personal development and also for specific challenges within our business. He has a very unique skill set and background” he said. “Brian’s guidance in personal development and thoughtful solutions add tremendous value to our company” Mike stated. “On several occasions he has helped me reframe issues and to have breakthrough conversations with my partner and other important stakeholders.”
Read the complete story here: Mike Steidle
John Bruellman, CEO, Sign-Zone
This year Sign-Zone received the Minnesota Business “Manufacturer of the Year” award and John earned the “Executive of the Year” Award. While John is appreciative of his individual award, in true Vistage fashion, he is most proud of the company award which he views as a team award based on the contributions of everyone in the company.
Read the complete story here: John Bruellman
Kurt Schneiber, CEO, Syncada, Minneapolis
During Kurt’s tenure with Vistage there were always opportunities to apply a new strategy or tactic to improve the business. “But you can’t just do everything every month,” said Kurt. For him, each monthly meeting or a presentation from a Vistage guest speaker revealed nuggets that often led to incremental changes. “For me, success is also about increments. It’s not always about big breakthroughs,” he said.
Kurt’s Vistage group consisted of CEOs and executive leaders from industries such as health care, technology, banking and finance, distribution and manufacturing. To be sure, a wide range of industries, but according to Kurt, “Our challenges were pretty common.” Not having any competitors in his group freed up his thinking and helped him be a more valuable contributor and more forthcoming with his own company’s challenges. “It’s a very safe place,” he added.
Read the complete story here: Kurt Schneiber
Melanie Sullivan, Ed.H, CEO, St. Croix Orthopaedics, Stillwater
“It’s challenging being a CEO and sometimes difficult to find people to share your concerns and thoughts with. CEOs cannot confide in employees, of course. But for Mel, Vistage has become her self-described ‘safety net.’
‘It’s a place where you can allow yourself to be vulnerable,’ she said, noting that she feels she can share anything with her fellow group members without the fear of information ever leaving the room. Mel said honesty and forthrightness prevails with others because it’s a ‘competition free zone.’ Not surprisingly, she describes her Vistage colleagues as a group of ‘great human beings.’
Mel views the value of the all-day Vistage meetings once-per-month as an essential ‘Investment in me.’ She said that while she’s away from the office she’s ‘working on the business, not just in the business.’”
Read the complete story here: Mel Sullivan
Sam Claassen, President and CEO, Short Elliot Hendrickson (SEH), St. Paul
“Change is one of the reasons Sam will keep his Vistage membership. The opportunity to hear predictions from economist Brian Beaulieu at the Vistage All-City event, for instance, provide him with the market intelligence to better guide his company. Sam said it was the overall Vistage experience he thrives on. ‘It’s caused me to do things differently. I’ve found new sources of information that I just wouldn’t have had,’ he said.
Sure, Vistage takes an investment in time. ‘It’s hard to carve out eight hours,’ said Sam. ‘But I think I’ve gotten several good ideas from Vistage in the course of a year. One good idea takes that investment of time and money and you get a huge return,’ he explained.
‘There’s a big value there. In effect, it changed my life.”
Read the complete story here: Sam Claassen
Michael Lacey, President and CEO, Digineer, Plymouth
“As an entrepreneur you cannot short change the value of constant learning and networking. The odds are so stacked against you. You really have to draw from the best and Vistage has given me many tools to help me run the business. Out of all the executive development organizations to which I have belonged (YPO, Inner Circle, EO), Vistage does the best job of exposing you to big picture thinking through its world-class speakers. Additionally, I’ve learned a lot from other CEOs in companies outside my industry—health care and manufacturing—that have sharpened my leadership skills.”
Read the complete story here: Michael Lacey
Mike Litwin, General Manager: Target Commercial Interiors, Minneapolis,
“When it comes to describing the overall value of his Vistage membership, Mike doesn’t mince words: ‘With masters’ degrees from Stanford and UCLA and as a senior executive at Target, I have been exposed to some of the best business and leadership training in the world. But my Vistage experience trumps all of it in terms of its immediate and ongoing impact on my effectiveness as an entrepreneur and a CEO. Their mission is to increase the effectiveness and enhance the lives of CEOs, and that certainly has been true in my case.’ Looking back on his first year in Vistage, Mike can readily see why his company has been so supportive of his participation, ‘It’s making me a better leader, I’m returning to the office with enriched knowledge and perspectives that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.’ Mike credits that deeper level of knowledge and perspective with helping him, and his leadership team, make better decisions about hiring, expense control and capital management.”
Read the complete story here: Mike Litwin
Cory Ploen, President and CEO, QualiTech®
“After a short period of stagnant growth, over the last two years we’ve seen significant growth in both top-line and bottom-line numbers. Although there are many factors that contributed to this success, my involvement with Vistage is a key component in making sure we stay focused on what’s important. This is done through both the monthly group meetings and the monthly meetings with my chair Brian.”
Read the complete story here: Cory Ploen
Michael Martin, President, Carlson & Stewart Refrigeration, Marshall
“With the help of his Vistage Minnesota peer group, Martin identified the right growth strategy for his company, and was equipped with insight and knowledge to navigate the complexities of a business acquisition—from staffing and relationship building, to successfully merging company cultures. An engineer in a leadership role, Martin c
redits much of his business acumen – and the growth of his company—to his involvement in Vistage Minnesota.”
Read the complete story here:Michael Martin