Sean Magennis | President & COO of YPO

John Corcoran  7:16  

It’s really interesting, isn’t it for, you know, for those who are not familiar with these worlds, but you know, YPO neo, and I’ve interviewed a number of members of both organizations have clients who are members of both organizations, and they really are committed to each other to helping each other’s development, helping one another. It’s really unusual. I don’t know what you know, I know EO A believers set up as a nonprofit, which is ironic, right? A bunch of capitalists, entrepreneurs. And it’s kind of the same thing with YPO. where, you know, it’s like we’re committed to each other’s development in a selfless way, but in that way, you get more from it.

Sean Magennis  7:56  

Totally. And we both nonprofits, you know, YPO and EO, both nonprofits And, you know, what I like about that are it puts the member at the center of what we do. And, you know, it makes it It also creates, you know, a different philosophy than a profit philosophy. So when, you know, everybody that we serve is in a for-profit business, which is fantastic. You know, we believe and I think EO would probably say the same thing is that business as a force for good in the world, you know, conscious capitalism, you know, which is a new, you know, initiative, you know, you probably know them well. Yeah. Other organizations like that are teaching us the value of a for-profit business with a purpose, the values, the value of leadership, thinking about the role of leaders, you and I are fellow members, individuals aspiring to leadership in for-profit organizations, we can have a positive impact. And, you know, that’s what drew me to both organizations as a user of their services, and as you and I discussed, you know, prior to the call, I’ve known, you know, for the past six years joined the management team of YPO. And I’m an entrepreneur, and I get I go to work every day, blessed with this ability to continue this movement and the stewardship of what I think is one of the greatest community experiments on the planet. where, you know, we’re helping, extraordinary leaders get better, better as people better as husbands and spouses better as parents, and ultimately, if they can be a better person, our philosophy is they can make a bigger better impact in the world, through their reach their impact or their organizations, the way they treat their employees, the way they treat their communities, the planet, etc.

John Corcoran  9:51  

It is truly amazing. And I want to break down. You mentioned the forum. I want to break that down a little bit further. Tell Talk to us a little bit about what goes On in a forum, why that has become a unique, really defining feature in both EO and YTO and other organizations that are similar. And maybe you can think of some examples without breaking confidentiality, of course, maybe from your own life, or well known publicly known examples of ways in which people derive value out of that experience.

Sean Magennis  10:25  

Yeah, well, you know, to begin with just very high level for your listeners who don’t know what forum is just considered a group of eight to 10 people in non-competing businesses who are members of an organization and you come together once a month for five and a half hours. And it’s moderated you get taught how to participate in the forum. So there’s a language protocol. It’s very processed and formalized. So there’s timing. You do an update on where you are and these different ways to do an update. And then there’s usually a couple of presentations and a presentation could be anything from you know, I’m having a difficult T financing in my business this year or I’m going through a business sale or you know, in my case, you know, my mother passed 10 years ago from Lou Gehrig’s disease and I had no this is a great story right it I had no experience with the disease. I didn’t know much about it but a member in my forum had had a close relative who had you know, got motor neuron disease had passed away and had lived through this decline and was able to provide me context was able to provide me a personal experience and knowledge give me some ideas point me in the right direction, they appointed me to the to an association that exists to help with ALS and Lou Gehrig’s, and motor neuron disease. And I got the most amazing advice I ended up having, you know, the association provides my mother a full-time nurse that would come in teach you how to Communicate with letters and, you know, provide a, what I would say was a really dignified end to her life. And it’s something I couldn’t have got that by googling but just having that very trusted from experience knowledge from somebody that, you know, I had a deep amount of respect for was able to short circuit things for me. So that’s one example. And there are myriad examples where a forum is literally like a sounding board. It’s not advice giving group. That’s a very good distinction that, you know, it’s a group that, you know, if you’ve got something to share based on a person’s need or what they’re looking for, you share from experience. It could be as simple as Hey, open up your Rolodex. I need a great litigation attorney who does you guys know that could help me in this very sensitive matter? And, you know, on the top of a person’s time would be two, three or four. Really good prospect. It helped his personal relationships, it’s helped in, in almost every facet of a person’s life.

John Corcoran  13:06  

Yeah, that’s so cool. That’s such a great story. You know, I, I wanted to ask you also about this connection, you mentioned it the connection between volunteerism, and then, you know, personal development and actual growth your business. And it’s a little counterintuitive because some people would think that, you know, you spend a bunch of time volunteering, it’s going to detract from the energy and effort you put into your business. But what you’re saying is that, really, it helps you to grow your business. So stretching back to you know, as you said, when you started being involved in EO you were Amelia has to volunteer, and a couple other people I interviewed Daniel Marcos who’s been heavily involved in EO you probably already was wondering, and I figured you did and Matt Stewart is another guy who’s a YY

Sean Magennis  13:53  

of mine, I met back when he was painting when he was in student painting, painting himself. He’s done so remarkably well. He’s a I mean, both those both.

John Corcoran  14:05  

Matt had such a great way of putting it. He said, the dues that you pay to join these organizations are a down payment on your right to volunteer, I think is how he said it. And it was like, Wow, really powerful stuff. So paint for me that picture, the connection between volunteerism and how it specifically helped you with your business through the years.

Sean Magennis  14:27  

Yeah, I think you know, what, I didn’t come from an environment where volunteering was the norm. I grew up in South Africa. I grew up during apartheid. I grew up in a very privileged I was very blessed in the environment I grew up in, but I didn’t come from a volunteer background. And so for me, it was a foreign concept. In terms of having experienced it myself. I understood the church and you know, community groups and that type of thing. But true volunteering, where you without getting paid. I literally standing for The development in adding value to somebody else and in most cases, in the early days, complete strangers. And, you know, so that what I quickly learned was, I was getting far more value out of the connections I was making, not from a network perspective, but just being in relationship with individuals that were at a similar age at that particular point in time, a similar stage. You know, literally going through all the struggles, you know, the highs and lows, the joys and the struggles of life. It started to connect some dots for me, and, you know, it was almost like a, it was almost like a petri dish of experimentation, where, you know, I would, you know, I would, I would do something after hours or on a weekend for EO or I would, you know, take on moderating my forum, and, you know, my sales were suffering or you know, and I spent that time you know, doing more sales and being in front of business people, or, you know, I was guilty about spending time on myself and having people to talk to experiencing or feeling those same things was, was eye-opening. Now, you know, takes a little humility. And what I realized, again fairly early on is the masks that we all wear. And I like what Matt said about, you know, the views that you pay are really a down payment. I think volunteering allows you to truly see the moss that you wear and get connected to really what’s important to you in life that happened to me. So what’s most important to me, is creating an environment for young people who are interested in making contributions, working hard, pioneering, in an area to get a leg up. And so I spend a lot of time just helping, you know, entrepreneurs, or people with a business idea. And I do it with I mean, I’m disciplined about doing it and I don’t try to rescue them or do work for them. But I love spending some time connecting on that basis because I’ve gotten so much from people who helped me along the way.

John Corcoran  17:12  

That’s great. That’s great.

Sean Magennis  17:14  

I answered your question, john.

John Corcoran  17:15  

No, no, it does. I mean, it definitely, you know, helps to explain why there’s such value, you know, in, in volunteering, throwing yourself into the community. And, you know, as you, you know, became more involved in eo I know, you rose through the ranks, eventually to the level of President of international president, do. You were really involved in the global expansion? A lot of people that I’ve talked to have said that getting involved in that level of leadership within EO or YP or other organizations that really taught them a lot about leadership that then they brought back to their companies. Is that the same experience for you?

Sean Magennis 17:53

Very much. So you know, I learned the importance of one embracing diversity of thought of opinion. And I’ve experienced you know, fortunately I I’ve lived, I’ve lived in Africa, I’ve lived in Canada, I’ve worked extensively in Europe, in Asia, throughout the Americas, Mexico. And I had an appreciation for the value of diverse thought and opinion and life experiences. But I hadn’t really, until I got involved heavily in EO and on the leadership side, and now supporting some incredible YPO volunteer leaders. I mean, just the most extraordinary people from all walks of life, some people who literally come from nothing, you know, and who are now leading, you know, significant corporations having an impact in in that particular communities or in the world, and then working side by side with them, you know, for something that none of us really know, or have control over, you know, both iOS and YPO and other organizations like this or not, they’re not I mean, they are supported by a board, and they’re led by members, but none of us have a crystal ball, none of us have an end game, the end game is to keeping the platform alive for individuals to grow and develop through the Association and the relationships with each other. And so, you know, I’ve just learned a tremendous amount. And it also giving, giving people an opportunity to participate with art, without having a preconceived idea of what the result of that participation are going to be, is a huge lesson. And I think we can use that in our everyday lives. You know, we meet people, we get get a commitment from the individual, we’ve got to let that individual flourish, not sink or swim because, you know, hopefully we’re there to to support each other and not sink, but in the reality, you know, we all we all, you know, have examples of the real, you know, in all candor, you know, not everybody is cut out Entrepreneurship, not everybody is going to be, you know, an open heart surgery, not everybody’s cut out to be, you know, a gifted politician. So, you know, it’s it’s a matter of, you know, the experience of creating a foundation based on some principles and values and then allowing it to flourish. Obviously, if they’re bad actors, they have to be codes of conduct and, and policies to make sure that it’s a constructive and not a destructive circumstance and situation. And from time to time, every organization, every community ends up having some degree of crisis or some degree of conflict. The test of an organization, in my view, and its resilience, and its sustainability, is how you lead through that, who you surround yourself with. And as long as you know, there’s a there’s a core, unifying set of values or DNA, I would call it And those are aligned. I think it’s it’s simpler to walk through to work through the crises of the potential issues.

John Corcoran 21:08

You joined you qualified and join YPO in 2007, which that in itself is a sizable achievement hitting 10 million in revenue is an older organization, EO, you know, you with your work in EO it’s about global, you know, global expansion, much younger organization. And then, you know, I’ve heard people say when they joined YPO they’re just blown away by some of the other much much larger you know, you hit 10 million a year like patting yourself on the back but then you do hundred million you know,

Sean Magennis 21:41

you sit down with somebody with 89,000 employees, the largest the largest, you know, retail store company on the planet and you go well, I guess I’ve got some upward mobility opportunity.

John Corcoran 21:56

So was that was that was the experience was like when you join like, wow, opening your eyes to what was possible.

Sean Magennis 22:02

Because in EO we had some pretty spectacular business leaders to, you know, women and men who’ve been very successful. So, and I think the beauty of both organizations is, once you’ve established a certain degree of business credibility, you know, the the degree of separation is not that great. Obviously, there is, you know, a big difference between an in sophistication and nuance and capabilities in running a billion dollar business versus a $10 million business. But the skill set the orientation towards results, the orientation towards building great people and great teams is fairly similar. And so I didn’t feel I didn’t feel that I was less than, in quite the contrary, I felt it was extremely aspirational and motivational to be around individuals who’d had much greater business success. And by the way, a lot of the Members, I would say, for the most part, many of most of those people that I met, were some of the most humble, genuinely caring, open to sharing, you know, their journey that I’d ever met. That’s the secret, I think of both organize an organization like YPO. And EO, if you can unlock that humility and that authentic sharing, which is part of our DNA, by the way, it’s part of what forum teaches us. The possibility to learn from that is just extraordinary.

It’s extraordinary.

John Corcoran 23:36

Yeah, it is 2013. Okay, so 2013 comes around, and after 20 plus years of participating in these groups, you take a career change. So you decide to go from being a member, and all the executive leadership and all that kind of stuff to actually joining the organization. So Talk Talk me through that that’s a size That’s amazing, and that’s a major decision.

Sean Magennis 23:58

It was a significant decision and I, you know I have to be I have to be, I’ll be I’ll be ruthlessly candid with you. I did it because the individual that made the made the offer to me. He’s a longtime YPR member, he’s our CEO, Scott Wardell I had come, I had come to see Scott and what he represented in terms of his leadership philosophy, his passion and just his just his integrity to what he was doing at YPO. I just, I just thought it was extraordinary that an organization could bring on board a member leader with with that level of of, of integrity and capability. And so I was very attracted personally to what he represented. Obviously, I was sold and I’d been a very active volunteer in YPO. And when I was provided the opportunity to come on board, the first people I went to ask where my two partners It’s Mark Kindle and jack white. They’re the partners in the gateway green energy business, which is a great little company and it’s and it’s doing some amazing things. And I the utmost respect for Mark and jack, they’re both highly highly skilled business people both in the electricity power generation space, both with with amazing credentials, and I, you know, I was an equal partner in the business and a founding partner and and had my own, you know, significant skin in the game. And I went to them and I said, Guys, you know, this is going to be your call and they said, Are you kidding me? This is something that you so passionate about, and you’re so dear towards and you know, it’s an opportunity that we don’t think you should, that you should ignore. And my own gut told me that, obviously, my life partner, my wife, Maria was an important part of that decision, and was extremely supportive. And I can tell you, it’s probably the best business This decision I’ve ever made, I’d read, I’d reached a point in my business career. Not that I was stagnating. But I needed. I needed a I needed a personal transformation in terms of my own growth and development. And I couldn’t think of a better place to do it in service of the mission of YPO. With a with a more skilled set of business partners in a Scott senior leadership team, and then the boards that I’ve been privileged to support conserve over the past three years. I mean, we have a board of 22 people members from all around the world each each member serves about a three year period, led by extraordinary Chairman, I’ve just been blessed with six, unbelievable Chairman who just had this dedication, willingness to, you know, to really put it all on the line in service of the mission and being a steward of the organization. So, and I’m taking a long time john to answer it, but You know, it was a leap of faith. But I think the underpinnings was so strong in terms of my experience with the organization. Its people its philosophy, I had spent many years as a member working with members of the management team, who indeed collaboration and who without them, I would not have been able to be a productive successful volunteer for YPO. So I learned from the outside the value of having a full time dedicated professional management team running YPO. And so when I came when I came internally, some people said to me, it’s like having a fox in the henhouse and I got a scratch my head, you know, having a fox in the henhouse having a several members who are passionate, love the organization, have the integrity and the value said, why would that be the case? Now that was more of a management team comment and I hope you know, certainly I know Scott has and I hope I’m living up to his example of, you know, of living living The, you know, the service ethic that we have. But I have found it to be, you know, a place where I bounce into work every day, literally, if you are several people are looking, you know, through my glass window here. You know, if I asked the the individual that runs our office, I literally I whistle in singing to work every day now, you know, we all go through our ups and downs depending on the challenges of the day. But the opportunity set to work with amazing volunteer members that are doing great things and having an impact in the world to put the glue and the structure and the operational excellence into, you know, a professional management organization that can help us scale. And to do that, well, I mean, to leave it better than then we found it. I think it’s just an opportunity of a lifetime. I can’t think of you know, for me personally, I can’t think of a better place to be right now.

John Corcoran 28:54

Well, I know and we can hear it in your voice. I know that this is much more than just business to you, it’s personal. You met your wife through EO and she actually is the daughter of a YP our

Sean Magennis 29:08

Juan and Linda some Sharon, ya

John Corcoran 29:10

know, you literally have both of these organizations really are part of who you are. We can tell you hear your passion. What are you most excited for? As we wrap things up? We’re running out of time here. What are you most excited for today, as we go into the fourth quarter of 2019.

Sean Magennis 29:26

You know, I’ve never been more excited about this, you know, about the the true benefit of communities like ours, and there are a lot of fledgling community groups coming up, by the way. You know, there’s an amazing group out of Austin that I’ve just recently met. You know, that’s just extraordinary called And this is not a plug for them, by the way, but it’s, it’s there are I just see this new set of collaborative partnership You know we work with with major global corporations like Salesforce like EY, we learned how to collaborate with a global partner from UBS, for example. You know, we’re entertaining other relationships with like minded people who truly believe that they call business is not building a widget, but it’s about people. It’s about improving, you know, the world and, you know, the plight, the not the plight, but the opportunities for all of us. And so that’s what’s really exciting and why IPOs leading in that area, you know, we’re undergoing a significant self disruption. We’re building off of a brand new strategy that’s resonating wonderfully around the world. There are four basic pillars we’re going to be focusing on impact. We’re going to be focusing on relevance, relevance for our members relevance for our content, relevance for our time and for new CEOs coming up. We love men and women, and importantly diversity because we love to Expand the ranks of CEOs outside of the classic male dominated route and make sure that there’s an even playing field. We want to be known for, you know, prominence in our thought leadership. We want to be able to celebrate members who opt in to being recognized for the good that they’re doing. And then the last pillar is, you know, extraordinary we want to be a place where extraordinary people, you know, who are doing amazing things who are risking, who are up to something in their lives, and who would like to be associated with other people with a similar philosophy, not to be told what to do, but to grow and learn together. You know, that’s what that’s what’s truly exciting. He was doing the same thing. YC is doing the same thing. There are there are number of just amazing pockets. I would say around the world of this, of this focus on on doing well, you know, even the United Nations with their sustainability goals. Are you know, are sparking This kind of enthusiasm and to be helping develop and sustain and nurture and grow a platform that’s playing in that space. You know, it’s it truly is a privilege. It’s an honor and a privilege

John Corcoran 32:14

as exciting opportunities afoot today, so I can.

Yeah, wrapping things up with the question I always enjoy asking, let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars of the Emmys and you Sean are receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up to this point. So you know, we always think our family and friends But beyond that, who else who are the mentors, who are the friends or the business partners, you name some already, but is anyone else that you would acknowledge?

Sean Magennis 32:38

Well, you know, I think you know, I couldn’t I mean, I looked at my lifeline before the call today and I have so many people in my life whose shoulders I’m standing on, you know, I have lifetime friendship with my best friend grand treble for example, and I could call or a school teacher of mine from grade three Sandy, some who’s, you know, just crossed into into at so I still talk to him. We communicate on WhatsApp and I’m I’m, I’m amazed that she’s, you know, technologically proficient. But, you know, I think, and I want to acknowledge, you know, obviously, we could take another hour and a half to acknowledge everybody, but there was somebody in my life very early in my life that you know, I regard him as my surrogate father. He was a, he was a, he was born in Zimbabwe, you know, in in, I would say, really dire circumstances. He went to South Africa with not even $1 in his pocket. And he ended up working for my parents, you know, in a in a domestic in a domestic role, domestic working role. His name was Peter MMO. Who and you know, we had such an amazing relationship based in the foundation of you know what I would call you know, unconditional love. You know, he passed away 15 years years ago, and so he wasn’t able to kind of see, you know, what my life is where my life has been today. So I would invite him, you know, he was a person, by the way, was not allowed to leave our home because of apartheid pass laws. He was there was a curfew every night, he couldn’t even go outside in the street and, you know, have a, you know, spend some time with his family or see his wife. It was amazing growing up in that, and having the presence, the, what I would call the, the intellectual and the emotional fortitude, to not make that stop him in life. And so I’d love him to be there.

John Corcoran 34:39

Wow, what a great story. Thank you for sharing that. is the website, correct?

Sean Magennis 34:46

Yes. Oregon, it’s a there’s great content on it and some amazing videos and please reach out if any of you if any of your guests have an interest in membership, and they’re on the journey. That’s what we’re here to do to help and support them. And, john, what a pleasure. And thank you for what you’re doing, you know, spreading this message. It’s very hard.

John Corcoran 35:08

Hey, it’s the thrill of my week, I get to talk to cool people like you. And there is also a YPO podcast, too, right? So if they go on iTunes and search for YP, I’m sure they can find it there. Yes, there is anywhere else that people can connect with you or learn about, you

Sean Magennis 35:21

know, JQYPO dot o RG and, you know, please feel free to get to get in touch.

John Corcoran 35:29


Sean Magennis 35:30

Alright, thanks so much, John.