Raimundo Arruda Sobrinho was homeless on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, for 35 years. Living amongst dirt and garbage in a spot Raimundo referred to as ‘The Island’, he was known locally for his poetry, which he worked tirelessly on every day in the hope of one day publishing a book.

In April 2011, Shalla Monteiro came across The Island, Raimundo and his poetry. Impressed by his words and wanting to help him achieve his dreams, Shalla set up a Facebook page to publish his poems and introduce him to the world. What emerged from that single act of kindness was far beyond a dream, it was a whole new life altogether.

“Damned is the man who abandons himself. These six words show that the worse the situation is, never ever should a man consider it lost.”


Power of Seven Leaders Retreat Glenstal

Power of Seven Leaders Retreat Glenstal

Our Leadership Journey: Sustaining Performance & Developing Resilience – Physically Mentally, Emotionally & Spiritually. This was the theme for a leaders retreat for a Power of Seven group last week at Glenstal Abbey Co. Limerick.

What did we do?

  • Updated each other on important aspects of our leadership.
  • Updated progress on 12 mth goals.
  • Practiced yoga.
  • Attended the monks church to hear their Gregorian chant.
  • Ate leisurely breakfast and lunch.
  • Attended monks refectory for super in silence.
  • Guided tour by Fr. Anthony Keane – The Mystagogy of the Forest (what has the forest eco system got to do with leadership and resilience?)
  • Talk by Fr Simon Sleeman – What we can learn about management of self and others from ‘The Rule of Benedict’.
  • Talk by Eleanor Winters a Nutritional Therapist on Food & Mood- Managing Stress & Increasing Energy and Resilience Through Nutrition.
  • Walk & Talk paired coaching.
  • Watch a movie “Legend of Baggervance”
  • Talk by Fr Mark Patrick Hederman (Abbot of Glenstal) – How We Use Our Creativity To Deal With Challenge.
  • Tour of Icon Chapel by Fr. Christopher.
  • Established what’s important for next 12 mths and set goals for business, family and self.
  • Laughed, rested, stilled and chilled.

All in all, a great experience was had by all. Thanks to all the guys involved, you played a blinder.

There will be an open enrolment retreat at Glenstal in June. By invitation only. Contact me if you’d like to be considered?

The talks with the monks were very enlightening. They are highly intelligent individuals, with no real egos, pondering on the great questions of life with humour and with searching minds. Dave MD TV Production Company.


The idea of arriving in on a Sunday evening in a relaxed mood from the weekend and getting even more relaxed over the two days was a great foundation for thinking about business, family and oneself in a deep way. Dave MD TV Production Company.


I’m going away with a clear focus on what’s important rather than what’s urgent. Ed MD Healthcare Franchise business.


Being here gave me a chance to understand my core beliefs, ask myself am I being true to them and am I living up to them. It was like being on a holiday yet getting lots of work done. Gerry MD Technology business.


Whilst their is commonality amongst the group there is a variety of views, all which help me to make my own clear conclusions and what’s important to me and my leadership, in a way I just couldn’t do on my own. Ronan MD Timber Component Manufacturing business.


The power of peers. When peers of equal standing get together in a safe and confidential environment it’s amazing what can happen. This was the case yesterday at the launch of the Family Business Forum in Ballinasloe when parents from family businesses around the country gathered to discuss their challenges, share their experience, and offer advice and support to help each another.

The group starts to formally meet on Monday 28th April and every two months thereafter. If you would like an invitation to join then please contact me ASAP. There are only four places left and we anticipate they will go fast.

I had the pleasure of starting this group in a joint venture with Kevin Fahey from Essence of Leadership who runs similar forums to my Power of Seven. Kevin was a joy to work with and our different approaches complimented each other extremely well.

The quality of listening and the degree of openness at the meeting was astounding. It just shows when people come together with similar situations in common how they can be of support to each other. One of the members commented many times how similar the challenges were. Another realised the difference in her quality of listening at the forum and when she is back at her company. There was husband and wife teams which made for interesting dynamics and I’m sure interesting discussions on the journey home! I’d imagine these couples heard each other talk about things they hadn’t discussed themselves before (at least not in the same way).

Here were a few insights/learning mentioned at the close of the day:

Involve others by getting their opinions


I plan to work more with my people


I will acknowledge others contributions more


I will discuss challenges with my staff more


I developed more self- awareness and understand where others are coming from


I plan to listen more to others viewpoints and not just walk away


I’m not going to bottle stuff up but bring out in the open

Note: this group is specifically for parents in a family business. If you are interested in a Power of Seven group for business owners then make contact to discuss interest in a new group starting next month.

Why I feature this article is the similarity it has with the Power of Seven concept and the benefits we can gain from spending quality well facilitated time with peers.

Interesting article on LinkedIn Pulse by Douglas Conant Chairman, Avon Products; Founder, ConantLeadership; Chairman, KELI; Former President, CEO & Director Campbell Soup. Mr Conant talks about his attendance at the CECP’s Board of Boards CEO Roundtable which offers a unique opportunity for learning and growth for CEOs. Forbes has recognized the event as one of the Top 15 Conferences for Meeting Influencers and Innovators, alongside World Economic Forum and Clinton Global Initiative. He says in the article

As corporate leaders, we have a responsibility to represent all of our stakeholders in the most enlightened way possible. This means meaningfully promoting the interests of our employees, customers, consumers, and communities, as well as the needs of our shareholders. It is not an easy job. But it is an important one. We have an obligation to lead our organizations in the most holistic way we can. One of the most effective ways to develop an enlightened perspective is to learn from others.

You can read the full article here. But here is a condensed version of the five reasons that Mr Conant found the Board of Boards CEO Roundtable experience so valuable:

  1. There are No “New” Issues. Believe it or not, the issues we face every day are not new to the world. They’ve been faced countless times by other people, and attending this event provides a tremendous opportunity to learn from their experiences. It is an opportunity to sit face-to-face with up to 50 world-class Chairmen and CEOs who are wrestling with the same exact issues as I am—such as employee engagement, trust, customers, brand, and risk. And, while there may not be new issues, there are new ideas. Every year I search for just one new idea – even one idea from a fellow CEO is enormously beneficial.
  2. Building a Community. Another benefit of this event is its small size. Attendance is capped at 50 people, which leads to a very intimate, “off-the-record” tone with the proceedings. This fosters a tangible familiarity and sense of kinship with peer Fortune 500 CEOs throughout the course of the discussions. You are building a solid network of leadership peers who you can use as a resource in the future. Maybe you don’t have a problem you’re grappling with today. But you might tomorrow. And, through these discussions you begin to create a community of people who you can call up and ask “how would you handle this?” when tomorrow comes. He talks about inspired leadership thinking from Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo. Her commitment to “Performance with Purpose” represents a bold proposition at the heart of her mission.
  3. Diverse But Like-Minded Leaders. Something that really sets this roundtable apart is that the participants come from wildly different sectors of the economy and backgrounds – from banking, to chemical, to food, to insurance. However, they are united in their efforts to develop a higher purpose for their company.
  4. CEOs are Citizens Too. Being a CEO can be a lonely job. Few people understand the responsibilities, challenges, and supreme accountability that go along with the position. But, we’re concerned citizens, too. We want to learn, grow, and help build a better world like anyone else. …. it helps enormously to learn from fellow CEOs who have “walked a mile in our shoes.” So, we can really delve deep and take this opportunity to ask our peers questions like, “How did you manage x crisis?”, “How did you organize and execute this initiative?”.
  5. Societal Engagement is Just Good Business. Increasingly, evidence is overwhelming that corporations must seek greater harmony between their business agenda and the societal agenda. Every year at CECP, we celebrate countless corporations that are a force for good. One example that springs to mind is the work Duncan Niederauer, CEO, New York Stock Exchange (our host for this year’s event), is leading on reintegrating veterans into the workforce.
You can also keep up-to-date with this year’s event on February 24th by following the hashtag #BoB2014 on twitter.

How do I Pick a Coach?

When I went to source a coach some years ago I found it really difficult. My big obstacle was finding the right one who had the necessary expertise for the various areas I wanted to work on. Other big questions I had were:

  • Will this be totally confidential?
  • Will they understand my business and context?
  • Have they gone through what I’ve gone through?
  • Will we develop the right relationship?
  • Will I be stuck with them once I ‘sign up’?
  • Do I need a directional (tell me what to do) or a non-directional coach (help me find my own answers)?

All these questions prevented me from finding someone. I felt very uncomfortable especially considering I believed in the benefits of coaching and I was even starting to coach some of my clients one to one.

An Alternative

The solution came along accidentally! I started a peer group for some of my clients and a few others. It was called ‘Leaders in Learning’ with the concept that we would meet for half a day every two months to share and learn from each other and help solve each others problems. That was over eight years ago. The group is still together today. After two years I was asked to become a member of the group as opposed to the facilitator.

I find it an excellent forum for expressing challenges that I’m stuck on, can’t see the wood for the trees, or just feel I could benefit from articulating a problem I want to get some feedback or advice on. What’s most interesting is that there are always different perspectives to be heard.

It’s like having seven other coaches in the room as opposed to one.

This group inspired me to launch other groups which I would assemble and facilitate professionally. There have been many over the years.

I named it the Power of Seven – Business Owners Peer Groups

Power of Seven Peer Coaching

This peer coaching is the most impactful form of coaching I have ever seen. When seven others are giving you feedback for no other reason that they want to help you, when you hear from others whom you respect because they own and run their own businesses, when you hear from others with similar experiences to yours and what they would do differently – you listen and you act, and you follow through. It helps to know that you’re going to be accountable to your peers when you meet them in two months time!

What Areas Do We Cover? How does it Work?

I have witnessed numerous cases where people have made radical changes in their business and lives. We don’t only work on members business, we take a balanced perspective, we look at ‘My Business’, ‘My Family’ and ‘My Self’. The view being that good performance in these three areas results in overall satisfaction, overall success. The meetings have a clearly defined structure and agenda and various processes that are used to achieve different aims. One example is a process we use to update each other since the last meeting. We fill in a one page form in advance of the meeting scoring ourselves on each of the three areas mentioned above, we also answer questions on these areas and identify one or two issues we’d like to get support on from the rest of the group. We then have a selection of other processes to use on addressing these issues.

Who Else Will Be in The Group?

The groups are carefully assembled. Each member is individually interviewed to understand their needs and levels of experience, attitude, personality, etc. I then do my ‘Willie Daly’ (of Lisdoonvarna fame) magic and invite the members I think will work best together.

How Confidential is it Really?

Totally Confidential. Everyone signs a confidentiality agreement at the first meeting. The success of the group is dependent on trust and respect. Members are reminded at the beginning and end of every meeting that confidentiality is sacred.

What Does it Cost?

A fraction of the cost of 1:1 coaching. You pay a membership for the year. You have the support of six others plus me the facilitator not just at the meetings but also in between by telephone and email. Quite often members will visit one anothers businesses to learn more and have a chat. The facilitators costs are shared by seven as opposed to a 1:1 cost.

The Process

1. Express an interest
2. Meet in person with me to access suitability, needs, etc.
3. Invited to a group most suitable for you for a brief chat and coffee to meet the others.
4. I get feedback from everyone on their first impressions.
5. Opt in to attend the first no obligation FREE meeting.
6. Opt in to joining the group for 12 months.
7. Review annually commitment to group for the following twelve months.

If you’d like to know more about the Power of Seven contact me or see more here on this website

“The benefits revolve around the people in the group and the deep bond and level of trust that has manifested itself. This has created the platform for sharing real experiences and knowledge in a remarkable way”

Notice: New Group Starting Next Month (apply NOW)



Note: It is not being suggested here that peer groups are better than 1:1 coaching. They have different roles and can complement each other. Indeed many of my Power of Seven group members opt for 1:1 coaching in parallel with the peer groups.