PEO vs. CEO vs. YPO at the Empire Club

PEO founder Mark Ribvers tells it like it is Empire Club

For the first time in Toronto business history, PEO Founder Mark Rivers CEO’s John Wilson and YPO’s Shaun Francis appeared on the same platform and squared off before nearly 300 Toronto business leaders at the Empire Club. Arlene Dickenson of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, moderated the session, which covered ‘What it takes to be a successful chief executive in today’s economy’—but so much more was discussed.

Rivers led off with a memorable comment, “The opportunity is to see the opportunity,” explaining that “the best leaders thrive in every economy.” He added that business models need to be refined for future success: “What people were trained for may not meet today’s needs.”

The idea of managing ‘in turbulent times’ intrigued the other peer group leaders, with both speaking to the need for ‘courage’ and ‘constant vigilance.’ “Resiliency is the key,” noted Wilson. “Entrepreneurs need to bounce back with optimism. It’s Time to be real and ask ‘what makes it tick’ and what are the metrics?”

Rivers also told Empire Club attendees to understand that “There is little risk in transparency.”

“Never underestimate how smart employees are,” he said. “They are relying on you to do what you say and lead the way out. They don’t necessarily expect you to generate the way–but lead them there.”

Rivers pointed out his concerns with too many businesses focusing on what they do wrong, and not what they succeed at and how to make that better. “It’s time to align the intuitive with the business does each day. There should be no separation between people and their cultural values and how the business operates. It’s when values become separated from work life that businesses lose their edge.”

There were numerous questions from Ms. Dickinson as well as the audience but one of the more intriguing ones was whether Mark believed that it was time for more female leaders. He drew a contrast between the female relational and male pyramidical idea but stated this in his experience, companies could be equally well run no matter who lead them. “It’s just a different style,” he told the Empire Club.

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