Management, Podcast

Ep 10: Everything You Need to Know About Starting (or Joining) a Meeting Forum with Tom Krieglstein

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Ep 10: Everything You Need to Know About Starting (or Joining) a Meeting Forum with Tom Krieglstein

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Perhaps you’ve thought about joining a forum or a mastermind group before, or maybe you’ve even considered starting one.

Well, I interviewed the Forum Launcher (literally his title). Meet Tom Krieglstein, who just launched his 33rd forum.

He came on this podcast episode to share an important local resource for every entrepreneur who has the problem of working in echo chambers or lacking support from peers. Tom shares everything they would need to know about starting or joining a meeting forum or mastermind group.


Tom’s backstory

Tom is the founder of Swift Kick, where he provides leadership programs for over 650 colleges and corporations across the United States, including the US military and Disney. For the past 8 years, he’s been launching forums with Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and even TED.

How Tom got started creating forums:

In college, a speaker came to Tom’s campus, and he was mesmerized by how the speaker moved the audience with his words. He walked up to him after the speech and said:

“I want to do what you do.”

The speaker actually became Tom’s mentor, and Tom tried to start speaking on his own. But, in his own words…

“I failed miserably.”

However, that didn’t stop Tom — he decided to be trained under a program called QLN, — a world-class speaking organization. Tom became a lead facilitator for QLN for 2 years training leaders all over the world on public speaking. Finally, he went to do public speaking himself, this time with tremendous success.

I fell in love with the forum experience, & the concept. It made me realize that people learn best in circles versus rows.

Later, he got into EO in New York and he stumbled into a forum. They were choosing new roles on the forum, and Tom was “voluntold” to be the moderator. At first, he was hesitant, but after seeing the forum process, he was hooked.

He fell in love with the group wisdom that a forum offers.

He joined EO New York, became the forum chair for several years, and started training others on forum creation. Eventually, this led to EO New York dubbing him the “Forum Launcher,” after which he helped with forums at YPO, Bliss Champions, TED, etc.


So, why create or join a forum?

A big problem these days is that many entrepreneurs often operate in a siloed echo chamber. In the news, entrepreneurial mental health and wellness is a growing concern and trending topic in Silicon Valley and at Venture Capital firms. So much so, that remote mental health services for entrepreneurs was the catalyst for the hot startup But besides digital services, how can entrepreneurs find and/or build a support system within their local communities? Enter the forum.

A forum is a group of 6 to 8 people who meet monthly and do a reflection on the prior 30 days, while also planning for the next 30 days. They focus on 3 big areas:

  • Personal
  • Family
  • Business/career
  • Possible 4th category: Friends/community

A forum is a safe space — everything spoken within the forum is 100% confidential — so people can share everything they need to share.


How Tom structures forums

After helping start 33 forums, Tom’s the pro to ask about how to structure a forum. Here’s what he said:

  • Confidentiality: Ensure everything spoken is confidential.
  • Very structured: Meetings usually last 3-4 hours once a month, because members should be going through many topics within that meeting (think of a board meeting). So, keep them structured.
  • Accountability: Members should hold each other accountable to their goals.
  • Annual retreat: Once a year have a retreat, whether it’s a virtual forum or a physical forum.
  • People cycle in and out: Sometimes people will be in a forum for a decade or more, sometimes after a couple of quarters they move on.
  • Price of a forum: If you are joining a group like EO New York, you may have fees associated with that organization. But otherwise, the only real cost is the dinner that happens afterward and the yearly retreats. (Tom said they usually put in $300 to $400 per quarter for the dinners, and around $2-3k for a multi-day retreat, or $1k for a one-day retreat.)

How a monthly meeting is conducted

The first part of a meeting is usually update-related, which includes goals and checking in. Then, there is a break after which there is some sort of presentation where someone’s in the hot seat (meaning they discuss a personal topic they are working through). Alternatively to the “hot seat,” you can bring in an outside expert.

There may be a second hot seat or a second presentation, and sometimes there are “business deep dives,” where everyone brings their balance sheets or other business documentation, and the group works through issues together.


Break down yearly goals into quarterly actions

Tom’s group uses the Wheel of Life, and each forum member rates themselves, and determines what they want to accomplish within a year.

Then, each member lists the actions they need to accomplish that quarter to ultimately achieve their yearly goals. They will check in with each other each month to see how they’re doing on those actions.

The wisdom is often in the crowd, not in the individual.

  • The moderator
  • The goals keeper
  • The special events coordinator (in case you have a special guest coming in)
  • The retreats coordinator
  • The parking lot attendant

‘What’s a parking lot attendant?’

(That’s the same question I asked Tom when he explained all this!)

I love the idea of the parking lot:

When a forum member tells the group, “I need to go to the gym more,” or “I may not make payroll this month,” those statements all go into a document called the “parking lot,” managed by the attendant.

The attendant then asks the member how important that issue is to them, and when they would like to address it further with the forum in the “hot seat.” The parking lot attendant then directs the flow of “hot seat” members during the forum.

World in which every human reaches their highest potential by connecting to a community of positive growth.

– Tom’s personal mission statement

About the guest

Tom Krieglstein

Tom Krieglstein

Tom is a Global Keynote Speaker & Hugging Professional. Tom has trained over half a million leaders around the US and the world. Book Tom for your next training, keynote, or meeting.

Through his company, Swift Kick, they work with passionate leaders and their teams to create a vibrant company culture where every employee is highly engaged by being motivated by their work, valued by their employers, and connected to each other.

How to find Tom:

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