Inside the secret club that helps prepare new CEOs to take over the world

The founder of the start-up company, Rana el Kaliouby, said it was a terrible day to tell its employees that some of them had been released due to the pandemic’s financial tax. But he had no one to trust.

“It is a very lonely experience,” said El Kaliobi as CEO. “You can talk to your mentors, but they are usually in a different place. You can talk to your investors, but you have to be careful.”

Instead, it turned to the Young Presidents Organization, a global network of executives where members meet each month in small regional groups known as forums.

Founded in 1950, YPO has a reputation as a fraternity of white men who inherited their family business and, for a time, it was. But over the years, more entrepreneurs have been hired, who tell Insider that the exclusive club is worth the admission price. A one-year start-up fee is about $ 4,000 and annual fees start at $ 6,000, depending on the capital.

When el Kaliouby sat at her computer for her first meeting of business leaders’ forum from across the Northeast, she recalled it would be a “colossal waste of time”.

Then the meeting started with the members sharing the most important thing that happens in their life. For El Kaliouby, he dismissed the staff the day before. He heard other leaders speak openly and so he did.

Since then, her forum has become a crucial council.

“Many of my friends are not CEOs,” he said. “I’m the first entrepreneur in my family. I can not ask my dad for advice on how to manage the board or how to raise the next round of funding.”

Absolute privacy

Confidentiality is required by a code of conduct and this atmosphere of secrecy is part of its appeal, members said. Executives can get rid of their work and personal life by trusting that their colleagues are never placed in a forum together nor are they competitors.

In 2015, when TaskRabbit founder Leah Solivan was CEO, raising money took longer than expected and the company was running out of money. Sullivan felt panicked.

One night he took an Uber to the hospital with a stomach ache. She left the hospital after a few days and went straight to a stadium, she felt like she was failing differently in her company.

“There are so many reasons for an investor to say no to a deal. I did not want to give them any hesitation about my health, so I kept it a secret,” Sullivan said. But she told her forum about the incident.

“Nothing leaves the forum,” said Solivan, now a founding partner at Fuel Capital.

She trusted the small group of Bay Area executives when she considered her resignation as CEO of TaskRabbit and did so again as president during the nine months it took to close the company’s sale to Ikea.

In fact, the team code of conduct has a frequently repeated line – “Nothing, Nobody, Never.” – serves as an informal slogan. It is “perforated” in orientation, said one member.

“Apart from the forum, talk about Nothing that is not said in the forum to anyone under any circumstances. “It never means forever,” says the code.

Heidi Zak, co-founder of ThirdLove and co-CEO Leah Solivan, general partner of Fuel Capital.  Spencer Rascoff, general partner at 75 & Sunny Ventures;  and Allison Long Pettine, CEO of Ridge Group Investments, appear on a pink background with the YPO logo repeated.

Notable YPO members include Heidi Zak, Leah Solivan, Spencer Rascoff and Allison Long Pettine.

ThirdLove; Fuel capital? Pakaso? Ad Astra; Melia Russell / Insider


30,000 members worldwide

The list of members is kept closely. It includes more than 30,000 people, the agency says, with half in the United States. To qualify, individuals must have become president, chairman, CEO or CEO of a $ 20 million company before the age of 45. They may also be eligible if the business is valued lower but achieves certain revenue targets.

These days, about a third of the members are people who inherited a family business and the rest are businessmen and executives. In start-ups and venture capital, notable members include:

The body has become more visible, recruiting as larger members grow and strive to increase diversity. The challenge is that many people have never heard of the team and, if they have, they know it as “an old white team,” said Allison Long Pettine, an investor and equity officer at Coastal San Diego.

Charges are steep and there are a number of rival networking teams with less stringent membership requirements and some dedicated to women.

El Kaliouby will remain a member, although it recently sold its startup for $ 73.5 million in cash and shares, earning an end to the company it started 12 years ago. She said her forum coached her in everything from the structure of the agreement to its announcement to its employees.

As a newly appointed board member of her fund, she now has the bandwidth to give back.

Are you confidential with insight boot sharing? Contact Melia Russell via email at [email protected] or at the signal at (603) 913-3085. Open DM on Twitter @meliarobin.

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