Clockwise from top left: Ryan Beedie, Terry McBride, Eric Carlson, Olivier Vincent, Paolo Kalaw, and Jeff Fuller.
As a member of the Young Presidents Organization, Ryan Beedie likens the forums to having your own personal board of directors.
When Ryan Beedie talks about the greatest influences in his life, not far behind his father is the Young Presidents Organization, or YPO.
A global network of chief executive officers, YPO was founded in 1950 in New York City by 32-year-old manufacturer Ray Hickok. It now boasts 17,000 members in YPO chapters across 100 countries. It was started as a venue to allow business executives 50 years of age and younger, like Hickok, to get together to share ideas and talk about common problems.
There are about 90 members in B.C.’s chapter. Within a chapter, smaller groups of eight to 10 members get together up to 10 times a year to talk about everything from business deals to problems one of their children might be experiencing.
“It’s like having your own personal board of directors,” Beedie explains. “It’s all completely confidential and there’s pretty much nothing we won’t share. Marriages, divorces – any problems you might be having. These are people that you would trust with your life.”
Those in Beedie’s YPO forum group include Terry McBride, Paolo Kalaw, Jeff Fuller and Eric Carlson, plus Canpages Inc. president and CEO Olivier Vincent and Geoff Reed, head of Creation Technologies LP. Indeed, dozens of the more than 150 business leaders who joined a group supporting Kevin Falcon's 2011 bid for the B.C. Liberal Party leadership were people Beedie knew through YPO.
The meetings usually begin with an icebreaker question, such as, What musical instrument do you wish you could play? Then there are five minutes for each person to update the group on anything significant that has happened with them since the last meeting. From that, individuals can pull issues into the “parking lot,” where they give a detailed presentation to the members about a particular issue they need help thinking through.
“It’s a really powerful forum to talk about dilemmas,” says Beedie. “People don’t give you advice per se. Not in the sense of 'you should do this or you should do that.' It’s more like, ‘I appreciate where you’re coming from. From my experience, this is what I learned; this is how I handled it.’ You’re trying to draw on the collective wisdom of the group. I’ve discussed a lot of my deals with the group. I really believe in YPO and the good it can do.”
Fellow YPO member Jeff Fuller says everyone takes something different out of the organization. “I think it helps give you some perspective on issues,” he says. “And I think it has helped refine Ryan’s skill set in that regard. It’s another piece in the puzzle that has helped reinforce his persona.”
Terry McBride says what Beedie gets from YPO is honesty. “When you’re running a family business, the people under you might give you a point of view, but they’re always wondering if they’re going to be shown the door if they say the wrong thing,” says McBride. “But I don’t work for Ryan. He doesn’t work for me. And as such we can brainstorm and know it’s true. It’s a quasi-board of friends who aren’t afraid to say what they think.”