Mastering Business Growth With the Power of Forums With Mo Fathelbab

Mo Fathelbab is the Founder and President of the International Facilitators Organization, a community of peer group facilitators dedicated to learning, growth, and development. As a best-selling author, he is well-versed in fostering meaningful relationships among CEOs. Mo, a TEDx speaker and moderator of SHRM Exec Network, played a pivotal role in the early growth of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), where he oversaw its expansion from 100 to several thousand members. Based in Alexandria, Virginia, Mo is recognized for his innovative work in creating and disseminating forum methodologies to a global audience, positively impacting leaders and organizations globally.

Tune in to this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast as John Corcoran interviews Mo Fathelbab, Founder and President of the International Facilitators Organization, to discuss the transformative power of business forums. Mo shares his backstory, including moving from Egypt to the United States and transitioning from door-to-door product sales to leading an organization that champions entrepreneurship through forums. They explore the significance of forums for entrepreneurs and business leaders, highlighting how these groups enable vulnerability, meaningful connections, and personal growth. Mo also provides insight into how forums have adapted to virtual environments and details the underpinnings of successful forums across cultural boundaries.

Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy

Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • [0:20] How forums can serve as a number one member benefit by fostering connections and growth
  • [1:40] Exploring how forums have transcended cultures and become effective in over 30 countries
  • [3:15] The link between exercise, specifically hot yoga, and mental health benefits
  • [5:30] Why it’s vital to see each other’s humanity and empathy expressed in forums
  • [7:50] The role of vulnerability in the creation of meaningful connections
  • [9:20] How have forums evolved and adapted to virtual space?
  • [11:00] The personal gratification that comes with being a facilitator and supporting others
  • [12:50] The impact of shared human experiences, such as loss, and the support provided by forum members
  • [15:00] How forums offer a safe space for leadership development and learning 
  • [18:50] A touching act of generosity exemplified within the guest’s forum group

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Quotable Moments:

  • “If you find yourself in the jungle and you come across a lion, reach in and rip its guts out.” – Mo’s grandfather’s advice on bravery, which inspired him in business and life.
  • “We forget to see each other’s humanity as we watch the news.” – Mo on the importance of empathy and understanding between people.
  • “Every human being would be better off if they had a forum.” – Mo on the universal applicability of forums for personal and professional growth.

Sponsor: Rise25

At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution. 

We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.

What do you need to start a podcast?

When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.

The Rise25 podcasting solution is designed to help you build a profitable podcast. This requires a specific strategy, and we’ve got that down pat. We focus on making sure you have a direct path to ROI, which is the most important component. Plus, our podcast production company takes any heavy lifting of production and distribution off your plate.

We make distribution easy

We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.

Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.

Are you considering launching a podcast to acquire partnerships, clients, and referrals? Would you like to work with a podcast agency that wants you to win? 

Contact us now at [email protected] or book a call at

Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

John Corcoran 0:00

All right, today we’re talking about the importance of a business forum. In your business. If you want to grow your business, you should be part of a forum. We’re going to talk about how you can do that. My guest today is Mo Fathelbab. He’s got a long experience helping business owners and entrepreneurs to use forums and to use them to grow their businesses. We’ll get to him in a second. So stay tuned.

Chad Franzen 0:23

Welcome to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we feature top entrepreneurs, business leaders and thought leaders and ask them how they built the relationships to get where they are today. Now, let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran 0:40

Alright, welcome, everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. You know, every week I get a I just feel so privileged to get to talk to interesting CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs of all kinds of different companies. And we’ve had this show, we’ve had Netflix Kinkos, Activision Blizzard LendingTree, Open Table, group, GrubHub, Redfin; check out the archives, you’ll be able to go experience some of those different shows. And of course, this episode was brought to you by Rise25, our company where we help b2b businesses get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships we’ve done for you podcasts and content marketing, and you can learn all about it at 

And I’m excited here today because, first of all, before we get to our guests, I’m gonna give a shout out. And I found a quote on his website and the quote said, Mo, which is our guest here today has been a masterful resource in creating meaningful relationships amongst our CEOs for almost two decades. We’re grateful for his contributions that came from Sean McGinnis, who’s one of my favorite past guests on this show. He’s now very involved in Tiger 21. And he has helped so many different organizations from EO to YPO. And I have massive amount respect for him. So by extension, I have incredible amount of respect for today’s guest. Mo, who is the Founder and President of International Facilitators organization, he is also a keynote and TEDx speaker and served as moderator of the Sherm executive network insights forum. 

He’s written a number of best-selling books. And he also importantly, and served as executive director of EO Entrepreneurs Organization during its founding years, very early years when it had about 100 members helped to grow to a couple 1000 members. So from 91, to 97. And he is based in Alexandria, Virginia, which is where he comes from here today. And it was such a pleasure to have you here today. And I always love to get to know a little bit about my guests about what they were like as a kid. And first of all, you grew up in Egypt, and you moved over to Alexandria at the age of 11. And you got started with an Amway product called Shaklee. I believe it was selling different products, door to door back in the day before we had the internet, you can order stuff from Amazon with a click of a button. But tell me a little bit about that. 

Mo Fathelbab 2:47

Well, first of all, thank you, John, great to be on your show. Thank you for the warm welcome. And the lovely introduction. It’s funny, you know, when I moved, we used to spend our summers in Alexandria, Egypt. And now I live in Alexandria, Virginia. purely coincidental, but, you know, I got here just with my mother, my parents were divorced when I was three years old, and she got a job at the World Bank. And that’s what brought us to the Washington DC area. And pretty quickly, you know, my mom, you could imagine, is a very independent, courageous, and brave woman who has broken many molds. 

And so to that extent, I also had entrepreneurship in my family and my mom and her brothers ended up starting the first credit card in Egypt. And, you know, her uncle had a big oil services company. So entrepreneurship was not an unfamiliar concept for me at a very young age. And so as I was 1213 I started to think about how to earn a living how to make money you know, start to play with this world of business and

John Corcoran 4:01

courageous because you’re also in a new country. I don’t know what your mastery of English was at that age if you maybe grew up speaking a lot of English but you know, to go door to door in, you know, your new country did that feel foreign to you? Or did it kind of come naturally?

Mo Fathelbab 4:20

Well, first of all, English was part of my life from kindergarten, I went to a private all boys school. And it was actually run by a bunch of nuns and, and it was a Christian school and they spanked us if we were late. They spanked us if we got a bad grade if we spoke out of turn. But we also had French starting fourth grade, we had Arabic, we had religion. And you know, when I left in sixth grade, I actually failed subjects, Arabic and religion. English, on the other hand, was a piece of cake. So when I got to us, English was not a problem. 

But yeah, I think by reflecting on it, it was pretty courageous to do that. And, you know, I’m certainly reflecting on that and a bit of amazement, because I was also shy at the time. But I remembered something, you know, that my grandfather always said to meet. And it was a message about courage and bravery. And what he would say is, if you ever find yourself in the jungle, and you come across a lion reach, and it throws and rips its guts out. And for me, I think that has just given me this inspiration to step into the fire and not be afraid. And perhaps that was, that was part of it. 

John Corcoran 5:46

You know, I moved around, I think a fair amount when I was a kid, never internationally, but it was always from coast to coast. So I was born in DC, went to Southern California, then went to Massachusetts, back to Southern California. So it’s like these massive moves 3000 miles away away from family and friends. And I feel like it really shaped who I am today. Do you think that that pivotal move at age 11, which is such a foundational time of life? From the country you grew up into Washington, DC, do you think it affects you to this day? And how do you think it’s impacted your life?

Mo Fathelbab 6:19

Well, gosh, so many ways. First of all, shout out to this amazing country we live in, you know, it’s been a blessing. It’s been life-changing. I don’t know that I would have had as many opportunities. And I certainly don’t know that I would have been doing this work, which I love so much. I think of my life. And I think there’s been a bunch of forks, some of which I had no control over. But it very much impacted where I am today and what I do today. And that move absolutely is one of the most pivotal things that have happened to change my life for the better. 

John Corcoran 6:55

Yeah, and speaking of pivotal things, after college, you end up getting a job as Associate Director of this nascent organization that only had about 100 members at the time. We’re talking about the 9090 Entrepreneurs Organization. What did you know about it at the time when you’re hired in this role?

Mo Fathelbab 7:16

Well, I think the backstory is important here. So I took a class in entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, and it was the only class of entrepreneurship they offered. At the time today, they had a whole Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, right. But Vern Harnish, who was the founder of EO, was my teacher. And I remember literally walking to the classroom. And he shows up to the door, shakes my hand and says, Hi, I’m Vern Harnish. I’ll be your professor for this semester. And no other teacher had ever done that. And Vern continued to exceed my expectations every single time. He brought in various entrepreneurs to come talk to us. And many of them were members of EO. 

And, you know, to hear their stories was inspiring. And to tell you, of course, I was already aware of the entrepreneurial ventures in my own family. And that’s probably what drew me to taking that course. And so after the class was over, and I graduated at the same time, I went to Verne’s office just to say, Varn, I want to thank you, you are the best teacher I’ve ever had. And at that moment, he says, Do you know anybody who would like to be my associate director? And I said, I think I do. And so that was how I got started down that journey. And, you know, it wasn’t anything impressive or exciting at the time. I mean, Vern told lots of stories of trips to Japan and China and and, you know, meetings with the founding board members who were incredibly impressive people. 

You know, Neil Balter of California Closet company, you know, they had Steve Jobs as one of their top, you know, entrepreneurs of the year in a related organization. And so the people that Vern was talking about Michael Dell was on the founding, you know, as a member for a while. And it was impressive. But when I started work, on January 2, 1990, we had less than $20,000 in the bank, and we were just getting going, and the office was in the worst drug trafficking neighborhood in the country, according to Geraldo Rivera. But I was all excited about the possibilities and I saw nothing but a bright opportunity with such an amazing organization and such an amazing teacher.

John Corcoran 9:47

Now, today, the forum experience is a pivotal part of this organization. I can say that having participated in forums and I’m going to be seeding a new forum, which I’m excited about. But for those who don’t know what that is, talk a little bit about what the forum experience is. And I’d love to know a little bit more about why you became so passionate about it. And then we’ll dive into the process of kind of rolling it out across the organization. But first, like, for those who aren’t familiar with what a forum experience is, what is it at its best?

Mo Fathelbab 10:20

At its best, it is a group of seven or eight people who are peers, so they respect one another, who have no conflicts of interest. So they can be 100% free to be open and honest, who agree to a confidentiality protocol, and to a language protocol where they don’t judge or give advice. And that enables vulnerability, which enables meaningful connections, which allows people to really learn, grow, and benefit from each other’s wisdom. And it’s a powerful thing. I’ve been in my group since 1991. Wow.