Contributed by Kate Holden, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and business leader behind De Luca Fine Wines, a fast-growing retail and e-commerce wine business. Kate is president of the EO Winnipeg chapter and serves on the EO Canada Board as Canada’s Member Products Director. She also serves as president of the board of directors of The Dream Factory, a non-profit for children with life-threatening illnesses.
I joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization four years ago, unsure what to expect. I attended some learning events and socials, and began making connections.
Today, I am part of the EO Regional Council in Canada and serve as president of the EO Winnipeg chapter, leading 100+ entrepreneurs who collectively account for thousands of jobs across the country and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic value.
In just four years with EO, I’ve served in numerous leadership roles, traveled to 20+ cities, and enjoyed once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including jumping out of helicopters and wearing plaid (my RLA cohort will understand!). I’ve also had the opportunity to hear from and speak to major business thinkers, including Jim Kwik, Peter Diamandis, Brene Brown, Simon Sinek and Warren Rustand.
The travel, perks, and fun have been amazing, but there are three main benefits I’ve gained from being a member leader in EO: collaboration, raising the bar and experience sharing.
We are the sum of the five people we most closely surround ourselves with. When you find yourself the smartest person in the room, it is likely time to change rooms. I have been fundamentally impacted by the entrepreneurs who surround me in EO. The experience has impacted the core of who I am: As an entrepreneur, as a leader, and simply as a person.
It comes down to exposure, collaboration and accountability. Immersion in a peer-to-peer learning environment provides a space to be real in all aspects of your life.
The more time I spend collaborating with EOers, the more robust my ideas become, which in turn changed the way I ideate for my business. Some of my best ideas for my primary business, a wine retail and e-commerce brand, have come as a result. I dream even bigger — and now recognize dreams I didn’t know I even had or wanted.
Different industries, different educational backgrounds, different ways of seeing the world — these all impact my perspective on the business world. Having access to such varied outlooks in a collaborative environment is a rarity worth its weight in gold (or wine, in my case).
And when your closest collaborators also act as accountability partners, the benefits elevate to yet another level. Whether on EO leadership boards, in our Forums, or simply in relationships born throughout the organization, a structure to hold each other accountable on execution makes goals all the more likely to be achieved. In EO, I both hold myself accountable more regularly and am held accountable by others.
Raising the Bar
The more time I spend around individuals who maintain high standards of excellence in everything they do, the more I find myself raising the bar in everything I do, too.
Maybe it’s an osmosis thing, or perhaps it’s simply the product of being inspired. Regular exposure to anything will result in influence, so regular exposure to impressive leaders, seeing them in their element and hearing how they ideate, problem-solve, perceive situations and navigate complexity has rubbed off on me.
I’ve always held high standards, but the execution and consistency piece is another thing entirely. Specifically, being privy to the “how”— the specific ways each entrepreneur grows and runs their business — is a game-changer for me. From Gino Wichman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up and beyond, I’ve learned and absorbed different models that some of the best entrepreneurs leverage in their businesses.
I always knew about the importance of formalized structure and processes. But after joining EO and being a part of numerous leadership boards, being “process-driven” goes from something entrepreneurs should embrace to being the key to growing a successful, high-impact business. The processes, systems and best practices I’ve learned have been transformative for my businesses, and they are directly linked to my experience as an EO member leader.
Entrepreneurs are notoriously obsessive learners. I’m a lifelong learner, but only after entering into leadership roles within an organization of peers did I realize how learning becomes the rocket fuel for growth. Suddenly, I strived to do everything quicker, smarter, better. But most importantly, I learned how to become an exponential thinker — not just an incremental thinker.
Entrepreneurs live a unique experience: The highs are high, the lows are low, and the pressures feel intense. Like myself, most entrepreneurs have people in their personal circles to turn to, but only entrepreneurs truly understand what other entrepreneurs go through. As we know too well, the higher the climb, the harder the fall.
Joining Entrepreneurs’ Organization, then growing in the ranks of numerous leadership roles, has allowed me to share experiences, confide in others, embrace vulnerability and feel “normal” in the face of so many challenging decisions, situations and issues arising along my entrepreneurial path.
Every personal or business struggle feels unique, but often, someone else has encountered something similar, understands my experience, and can offer support. I am not alone. Once I realized that other entrepreneurs struggle with the same things I’ve struggled with, it reminded me of a simple but powerful truth: All challenges are temporary.
I’ve seen incredibly successful entrepreneurs break down in tears over their attempts to balance parenting and growing a business; managing issues with suppliers, employees and finances; and dealing with mental health challenges. A community can be a safe place where our unique experiences find a sense of kinship and understanding — and that’s been invaluable for me.
Embarking on a leadership path within EO has transformed who I am, how I grow my business, and how I look at the world. I dream bigger than I ever have.
Leading initiatives that “give back” to the community of entrepreneurs who have given me so much is rewarding. Leading a board of high-performance, brilliant, type-A entrepreneurs is one of the most challenging things that anybody can do. But ultimately, leading myself in a new, more elevated way has given me the opportunity to grow as an individual, and it’s shown my 14-year old daughter that smart women can build, grow and lead with the best of them.
Explore the EO Path of Leadership to learn about leadership opportunities within EO.
For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog.
Categories: BUSINESS GROWTH Entrepreneurial Journey LEADERSHIP WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS