Let’s Make Sure We Understand A Bit About You
You are here because you are an entrepreneur and you're interested in working with other business owners so that you can grow both personally and professionally. If we’ve understood correctly, you are a good candidate for Circles:
- You are a motivated, self-starting entrepreneur running an established business
- Running your business means problem solving, making decisions and learning-by-doing on a daily basis
- It can be challenging to balance your life outside of work with your role at work
- You are a learner, always looking for ways to do things better
- 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 and guided group of 6-8 peers. Keep reading and we’ll tell you why so many entrepreneurs have peer groups. And we’ll explain how it works and what’s involved. Then the next step will be for you sign up so we can alert you when we have a circle available.
You might want to start with this brief video from founder Dan Hoffman:
How Does It Work?
A circle is a group of people who are carefully matched to pursue shared challenges. Each circle has a guide who shows you how to run a meeting, address challenges and learn from each other. Eventually, they fade into the background as your group bonds.
- Meet online once every two weeks for 60-90 minutes in a private video room
- Continue to connect in between meetings through a private online forum
- Share and continually refine individual challenges within the theme
- Learn some rules and norms that make the meetings both structured and impactful
- Pursue a theme together like “growing a business”
- Maintain confidentiality to encourage deep conversations
Why Do So Many Business Leaders
Have Peer Groups?
Over 100,000 CEOs and business owners spend more than a day each month with forums organized by Young President’s Organization, Entrepreneur’s Organization, Vistage and 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 knowledge and networks. A peer group becomes something like workout buddies so you can overcome obstacles, stick with a program, and sustain change. 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 This?
Here are a few likely outcomes:
- Improved skill in the nuts and bolts of running a business: coaching, recruiting, setting goals, building relationships, motivation, handling conflict, and so on
- New approaches to learning that will help you master skills
- Access to diverse viewpoints about your most important challenges
- A personal advisory board of experienced peers who help solve problems
- A confidential forum to discuss issues you can’t comfortably share with colleagues or even family and friends
- 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?
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 you are in a group with peers makes it easy to build rapport and respect quickly. We do work to balance commonality with diversity. Diverse experiences fuel learning and give you the benefit of ideas you may not have had without different points of view.
We also try to find peers with common goals so that your circle is likely to find value in staying together over time. The longer you are together, the deeper your conversations will go. You may change themes together and explore new topics but you won't have to incur the cost of getting to know an entirely new group of people. 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 “growing a business." Within a theme, each learner will have their own personal challenges and goals. Sometimes, a circle decides to sign up for external 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 in a private online forum. And the guide and Circles team share pieces of content relevant to your issues.
This is not about academic learning. You work on real challenges, professional and personal. You will learn how to do things better, ways to move quicker and how to get more done with less trial and error. And by applying best practices from learning science, we will 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 make problem solve in the moment and make long-term, strategic decisions. How do you set good goals? Delegate? How can you manage work/life balance for yourself and your team? What are ways to improve productivity?
Over time, some of the 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.
The Team, Science and Philosophy
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. Dan Hoffman started Circles as a new company to figure out a way for the power of peer learning to scale. He recruited some help:
Nielsen’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.
Sign Up And Get Invited To Join A Circle
We are currently in the process of setting up new circles.
Sign up to get the full information and a link to the application.