Happy 20th Anniversary!

Apr 24, 2023

Hey everyone,

While I’m holed up sick at home in New York with Covid Round 2, Collaborative Gain Councils turns *20* years old today and the whole community is celebrating with a big party in Chicago tonight (I’ll be there in spirit, but alas not in person).

This is a celebration of *all* of you (and, of course, of my mom—more on her in a moment).

Before CG Councils there was no such program for non-CEOs. We *pioneered* bringing small councils/forums to a much broader group of leaders (and now we are pioneering bringing the same thing to job seekers).

Founding members of Council 1 who launched this with me include: Elizabeth Peaslee, Marissa Mayer, Mark Carpenter, Maryham Mohit, Mary Baumgartner, Jake Peters, Rick Robinson, Susan Cashen, Steven Henson, and others.

And nearly half of this first council are STILL members and will be in Chicago tonight celebrating.

Council 2 members joined the next year and further pushed the envelope. They include Sarah Bernard, Martin Hardee, Andre Haddad, Max Gadney, So Young Park, Mike Stacy, Janice Yablonski, Colin Hynes, Insiya Lightwalla, Judy Cantor, and others. 

In fact, Martin Hardee has written a song for our 20th anniversary and will be performing it tonight 😉

These early CG Council members helped test the value proposition, would this work for non-CEOs? 

And the answer turned out be a resounding YES.

More than 1,500 leaders have gone on to join CG Councils since that very first meeting in New York in April of 2003. 

And many of them have built amazing careers citing their Council membership as being key to their growth.

When we welcome new members into this community, we share two things: 

  1. Our secret sauce is “asking for help” 
    “Asking for help” is central because it builds a culture that A) compels the humble; and B) repels the arrogant. 
  2. Asking for help is a *giving* activity
    This is a community of smart leaders who understand that it’s an honor to be asked  for help – plus when you help others it boosts your confidence, deepens your learning, reveals questions you didn’t know you had, and encourages you to be more open and vulnerable. 

So, “asking for help” is indeed the trigger that makes everything possible in this community.

As many of you know, I learned this from my mom “Chic” who started the first Council in 1960 in Los Angeles for elementary school teachers.

And while she died more than 10 years ago, her spirit lives on every day in this community.

Thank YOU, Chic!

Tonight in Chicago at our 20th anniversary cocktail party we celebrate ALL current and alumni members of CG (and if you are an alum, we’ve kept a seat warm for you—so, please get in touch).

I look forward to the next 20 years and helping thousands more leaders help each other grow.

Thank YOU!


P.S. “Time Capsule” Back to 2003

Our first meeting was in New York City in April 2003 and below are some of the topics from that first agenda – the agenda shows, among other things, what capitalism’s “creative destructions” has done to some of these companies below in the interviewing two decades.

— CG Council 1: April 2003, New York City

– Credit Suisse
Request for help: “If I could improve one thing, I would just make it easier for people to bank online with Credit Suisse. How do we make it really simple?”

– TiVo case study
Request for help: “Not since the PalmPilot debuted in 1996 has a new electronic contraption sparked a cultlike following and so many zealous proselytizers.….how do we take that enthusiasm and create a product where you just push a button, like how you turn on your TV, and then your TiVo is activated for life. How do we achieve that?”

– Nokia case study
Request for help: “Nokia is a hardware company trying to become a software platform company. How do we make this transition?”

– Travelocity
Request for help: “Deep dive on the home page – how to improve it?”

– Washington Post
Request for help: “How to effectively combine content and commerce?”

Request for help: “How to create a ‘zippering strategy’?”

– Uline
Request for help: “Questions and challenges on online measurement?”

Request for help: “How to create a good digital experience for people over 50?”

– New York Times
Request for help: “Will readers pay for digital access?”

– Google
Request for help: At the next meeting, Google presented a key new product under development and asked for feedback before the Board presentation.



P.P.S. The CG Councils community has also sponsored the development of several pro-bono programs including the Never Search Alone job seeker community, which is helping thousands of job seekers today at no charge; Slow Art Day, which has become a major event on the international art calendar; and the Warren Buffett Reading Group, which is introducing hundreds of high school students each year to the world of business. Amazing.


About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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