At CFBC, we often say that it is lonely at the top for many leaders. But CFBC members stay together at the top. There are a number of high-quality organizations, similar to CFBC, that also offer peer-to-peer support and education for family and privately held business leaders. You might even be a member of one. So what makes the CFBC experience different from that of another organization? We get asked that question a lot by new and prospective members, specifically how CFBC differs from Vistage. Here are the five differences that we highlight in those conversations:


#1 - Protocols
are the heart of CFBC’s peer groups.

“Protocol” might sound like an intimating word, but we can assure you that it’s not. In fact, it’s just the opposite. CFBC Forums (peer groups) are structured around protocols that ensure a safe, confidential environment for members to open up and share. Think of protocols as a code of conduct that all members willingly abide by to show respect and support to each other, and to experience that same support in return.

Here are a few examples of CFBC’s protocols:

Cell phones off – Nobody likes to be sharing a personal story while seeing their peers checking text messages and responding to emails. We keep phones off for the entire meeting to ensure everyone’s engagement and support.

Always show up for each other – Members aren’t allowed to miss a meeting. Why? Because it’s important to show up for each other. If you’re going through something and you’re seeking the support of your peers, you want your entire group present. We make it mandatory to prioritize your Forum meeting so nobody feels lonely when they’re most vulnerable.

Pens down – Note taking is not allowed in a Forum meeting because we believe your listening skills operate best when you are focused on the person speaking. It allows you to provide eye contact and other visual cues that demonstrate you’re listening and engaged in the conversation.

There’s no question that our Forum groups find these protocols invaluable to their Forum experience. While Vistage does have regulations for their meetings, they aren’t as thorough as CFBC’s protocols. CFBC member and Chairman of the Board, Jeff Conner, was previously a member of Vistage. He said, “The major benefit of CFBC over my Vistage group is the required attendance at each meeting. It is comforting to know that when I walk in the room at any Forum meeting, I’ll have all eight of my Forum members there for support.”


#2 - Forums are leadership dependent
, with members serving as moderators.

Vistage meetings are moderator dependent. Moderators for the peer group are paid to keep the structure and flow of the meeting in place at each session. At CFBC, our Forum groups are not dependent on an outside moderator, they are leadership driven. What does that mean?

While there is a moderator for each Forum, members take turns alternating the moderator role each year. That way, everyone has the experience of moderating the group. However, it’s not just up to the moderator to keep Forum meetings a safe place. Everyone in the group is able to take on a leadership role. We believe the health of the Forum group lies in the ability to support each other at any given moment.


#3 - Inclusivity
allows everyone to be a part of the council.

When you join the CFBC, it’s not just you that joins. Your entire company joins, bringing the resources that we offer to everyone in the business. We believe that everyone can benefit from education and peer support, not just those at the top of the organization.

If your company is a member, all of your employees and family members are welcome to attend CFBC programs and Community In Forum training sessions at no additional cost. We also host a variety of Roundtables, which are discipline specific meetings (HR, marketing, sales) that employees can attend for development in their area of expertise. If they choose to join a Forum, there is an “add-on” member fee.

Vistage has a more individualized approach to membership. When you join, you alone receive the benefits of membership and education, not your entire team.


#4 - The nonprofit organization
status and member-run structure fosters leadership.

The CFBC is unique because we are also a nonprofit, member-run organization. Our members sit on the Board of Directors to guide the strategic direction of the council. The organization has several committees, such as Program, Marketing and Membership, which are composed of CFBC members that volunteer their time and expertise in those fields. Being a part of the CFBC gives you the opportunity to sit on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit organization and help spread the impact that peer support and education brings to privately-held companies. 


#5 - Our DePaul University
affiliation brings an additional layer of education.

In 2012, we became affiliated with DePaul University not only to give our members access to students and alumni seeking jobs and internships, but more importantly to give students and alumni the opportunity to learn from business owners and leaders.

We’re always finding new ways to work with DePaul faculty, staff and students to bring the knowledge and shared experiences of our members to the classroom. Whether it’s presentations to DePaul’s Family Business Management class or hosting a group of international students at your business, there are numerous ways to engage with the university.

You might find that some peer groups in the Chicagoland area offer a few of the same benefits as the CFBC, but none offer all of them in our unique combination. We pride ourselves on our connection to DePaul University, being a member-run nonprofit and fostering leadership in our members both in and out of the Forum group setting.

We are so glad you are interested in the benefits of peer support, no matter what organization you choose. For more information on becoming a member of CFBC, please click here.




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