September Dohrmann is the COO of CEO Space International. Her role in the company encompasses rebranding, HR, office management, and finding external solutions for the company. CEO Space believes in cooperation among businesses; they seek to build a community that encourages and educates in conference settings.
In this episode, she talks about the importance of building business relationships and how CEO Space aims to achieve that. We go into a deep dive on how business relationships help you grow and succeed as a business, even as your own business needs changes and you evolve.
Today, we’re actually talking to one of my favorite people in the planet, September Dohrmann, the President and CEO of CEO Space International. Before I bring September on to the show, I do want to give a huge shout out to CEO Space as an organization because it’s where Tonya and I got our business start. If it wasn’t for what September and her husband Berny have built at CEO Space, I would still be over in Afghanistan or Iraq serving our country as a counterintelligence agent. But because of the network and education that they’ve built through CEO Space, we not only have one thriving business, we actually have two thriving businesses and are raising a budding entrepreneur who is, because of CEO Space, on her own venture, doing a best-selling book. For those of you that are starting off their own business, I highly recommend CEO Space because we would not be where we are in our own business without it. With that, I would like to welcome September Dohrmann to the show. September, thank you for joining us today.
Hi, Justin. Thanks for having me.
I love every opportunity I get a chance to speak with you because we just have a lot of fun. The conversations we have about just how to up level businesses is always fun for me. Can you share with everybody a little bit more about CEO Space and what CEO Space stands for?
Our mission is to help entrepreneurs and their teams flourish by cooperatively sharing knowledge and resources with each other. That’s what we’re after. That’s what we have built our business to do. The way that that’s expressed is in five events a year that we hold. Currently, they’re in Orlando. They will be moving to Tampa soon, I’m pretty excited about that. We hold all these events five times a year where business owners come together to share knowledge and resources with each other. One way that we can help facilitate that is that we have experts that come in to present their content. They are fully vetted. We have a vetting process that we put our faculty members through. We want to make sure that they are solid, they are running a business that’s successful, they’re doing well, and they’ve got some knowledge that they can share with people. The great thing about the faculty and how they play in to CEO Space is that they’re there to tithe their knowledge. They’re not there to necessarily gain business. While gaining business does happen, it’s not their primary objective. They’re really there just to give back to other entrepreneurs.
When you get up to a certain level in business, you want to be able to turn around and say, “Here, let me help this next person up and help pull them up the ladder.” That doesn’t happen just with our faculty members, it also happens with our members as well. We have a ton of brilliant, brilliant minds within our organization. They, too, are there to contribute. Our networking is unique where we don’t start off by saying, “My name is John. This is what I’m doing and this is what I need from you.” It’s, “My name is John. Tell me about what you’re working on.” It’s always that give back first, and what comes out of that conversation. Typically, when it starts off that way, you’ll be surprised at how many people have some expertise in their background that they can lend to another person that they may not be using right now. It creates this beautiful cooperative experience.
As business owners, Justin, I know you can attest to this, it is freaking lonely being a business owner sometimes. There’s nobody that you can connect with, to brainstorm with and throw these ideas against walls with. Sure you’ve got your friends and family and they’ll listen to a certain extent, “That’s really good. I’m so proud of you.” But most business owners, they just don’t have a tribe and a place to go to of likeminded individuals that are looking to help everybody grow in their business. It’s a long answer of what CEO Space is. If you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about it.
The fact that we go back five times a year, like you said, is because of bringing tithe. We’ve gained so much from the people that we’ve spoken with, relationships that we’ve built within our own business that going back to CEO Space to bring tithe and just to give back and help somebody else out, just to impart a little bit of our knowledge, a little bit of our experience of “Have you thought about doing it this way? Do some due diligence,” and just share that with people is huge. If it can save somebody time or money or if they could do something a little bit more expeditiously, it’s a lot easier to do when you have a network of people that you’ve built a relationship with to rely on for those things.
Some of our closest friendships and relationships have come from CEO Space. That’s what I absolutely love about what you and Berny have built for everybody that is journeying on that path of entrepreneurship. One of the things I love about what you are doing that is so different than any other conference out there is the fact that you are vetting all of your faculty and speakers that get on stage. What has that done for your business?
First of all, having the vetting on the questionnaire process of meeting a new faculty member and letting them know this is what we do, letting them know upfront, “You’re going to be vetted. This is what you’re going to be vetted for and this is the cost of it.” It’s an investment that they need to make in themselves. More importantly, what happens is that it runs people off at the very front. It’s like you have a doorkeeper, somebody that’s watching out for you, just having that statement there tells them, “We’re going to look into you.”
Past that, the benefit of it is just the quality of content that we’re providing. The quality of connections that come along with that person that has the content. Our customers are getting more and more success stories, more and more win stories. It’s played a huge role in shifting our culture. That’s a really hot topic right now, Justin, is culture within organizations. For us, that vetting process really laid a solid foundation down for us in setting the tone of our culture. It’s that whole accountability inside of the cooperative environment. Being cooperative is about helping one another and we all have to be accountable. We all have to be accountable for our history, for our past, the things that are in it. If there’s somebody that’s not very trustworthy trying to come into an organization that prides itself on that, then it definitely runs them off. The effect that it’s had on just rebuilding that culture within CEO Space, I cannot put a price on that. It’s priceless.
I appreciate the opportunity to serve at that capacity for CEO Space. You’re absolutely right. What I love about it is that it really lets CEO Space stand out because if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re a business owner and you’ve gone to multiple conferences and speaking engagements that you participate in and whatnot, there’s the whole dangers of association of who are you going to be involved with. Unfortunately, there are people that are out there just to get on stage, just to sell their product, who really aren’t serving, who really aren’t doing what they say they could do. If that conference is not vetting whoever they’re putting on their stage, then it puts that entire membership base at risk, which is something that CEO Space takes seriously because you do vet everybody that you put on your stage and that gives your membership a peace of mind. The conversations that we’ve had with the members, they appreciate it fully because they know that they can listen without having to worry about whether or not they’re going to get scammed or not. That’s a huge peace of mind that CEO Space brings to their membership base.
Something you had mentioned is that you and Tonya come back five times a year. That’s a question that comes up for us quite a bit. Why is it that it’s five times a year? How come it’s this often? As an organization, we encourage people to come back as often as they can. Certainly three times a year is going to be the ideal thing. CEO Space is not a one and you’re done. You don’t come in and get what you need and then your life is perfect. While that sounds lovely, that’s not how it really works.
The reason we have it five times a year is that we find, on an average, eight to nine weeks is about the amount of time that teams need to come back together, companies need to come back and get that next resource. They need that next step that’s in front of them. The way that we’ve structured ourselves is that we’re providing that tribe, the hub to go back to that says, “I now need capital or I now need somebody in branding or marketing or consulting.” or whatever it is that you need on that to do list, on your goal list. Use that. You use these things together; your goal list and CEO Space.
I received an email this morning from somebody that was sharing their experience of CEO Space. “Fifteen years ago, I traded a career as a president of a high tech company to start my own consumer product business on my husband’s patent. We raised $250,000 and launched our very first product, which ended up going into Sam’s Club, Costco, Sports Authority, QBC, and more. When things got tough, my family attend CEO Space, where most recently my eldest son had raised $3,000 for a mission’s trip in two hours.” It’s whatever people need and knowing, it’s that key statement, “When things get tough.” We need an extra boost. We need a leg up. We need something. People just find it there. You set the intentions before you go and it shows up for you. It’s like magic.
Like you said, it’s not a one and done. You have to show up. You’ve got to use your network. You’ve got to build those relationships. You’ve got to fine tune your language and your messaging and what you’re doing in order to get what you’re looking for. I know because that’s how we’ve used it. The very first time that we went to CEO Space, we were calling ourselves, back in the day, our original business name was Defeat the Spies Incorporated. We were going to raise capital on this idea that we were going to be corporate trainers under the name, Defeat the Spies Incorporated. We were going to be training corporate leaders on how to defeat the spies. Spies was an acronym. Spies that rob their organizations of power, time, and money. Lo and behold, we were able to fine tune our messaging, look what we were looking for, and create what we needed. Now, we have a full-fledged thriving due diligence firm. Tonya runs another business as well that is fully thriving with the very large membership base. All of that is because of the education that we received in CEO Space as well as again, doing the work, having to show up.
I’m going to break the news to you, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get back five times this year, I’m thinking three, but that’s only because the business is completely thriving because of that.
That’s what happens. It’s working.
We’re super excited to get back in May. We’ve already been to March and probably going to be out there again in December. We’re super excited about it. What I love about it is it really gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to take a deep dive into businesses and figure out what they need.
You said it. That deep dive is such a sweet spot for business owners. Being able to get into that deeper level with minds. You said, building relationship. Obviously, you and I are fans of CEO Space. For the audience, those that don’t know what is a take away, if I could tell you one thing that would be a take away from this podcast would be, to develop relationships. If you choose to go to CEO Space, that’s wonderful. There’s a lot of amazing people and miracles just seem to happen in the space. It’s a beautiful space, I love it. But if you’re not quite ready for that and you don’t want to take that step, the one thing that I could say, without a doubt, is to establish relationships. Go into your community, find likeminded individuals. There are lots of business meetups, things that you can go to within your area. You have to shop them. You’ve got to find that safe place for you. Where can you be vulnerable and know that it’s okay?
That whole being okay and making sure that you’re in a safe environment is that everybody who participates in the program signs an NDA, a Non-Disclosure. Everybody is protected underneath this Non-Disclosure so that ideas are protected and they’re safe. That’s something that you need to be mindful of when going out and looking for communities and other organizations to be a part of to establish more connections, to open up your rolodex. I know that’s a little old school, your contact base. What are the people that you can lean on and reach out to as it relates to your business that will give you sound advice and be able to have some access to resources that you need? It’s not going to be one person. You could get lucky, like a fairy godmother, but that just doesn’t happen. You need a network of people. Build those relationships and make sure that you feel safe and comfortable within those relationships. Feel free to vet people. Even if you want to work with them as a mentor, vet them. You need to make sure that they’re good people.
September, I know you already talked about relationships a bit. What is another piece of advice that you would give to budding entrepreneurs or people that are in transition? What is something that you would encourage them to do to keep moving forward?
The one advice that I could give on that would be to be absolutely clear about what it is that you’re after. If you don’t have that clarity about what your target is, where you’re ultimately going, there’s no way that you can even define what your daily routines or your daily disciplines need to be if you don’t know what your end point is. Keeping that motivational piece all ties in that as well. You’re keeping your eye on the target. What is the target? Simple. State it. What is the target? It’s easy. This is not a ten-page letter. This is a very simple statement. This is what we’re after. This is what we’re going to do. Then you work backwards from that.
Let’s say that you anticipate hitting this target in five years. Work backwards. What goals do you need to accomplish within three years? Work backwards from that. What does twelve months look like? What does monthly look like? What does weekly look like? What does daily look like? Keeping yourself motivated in that all ties into the clarity of your target.
To add to that, it’s not getting discouraged by the fact that your language is going to change, your focus is going to get narrower. You’re going to start with the, “El mundo, I’m out to change the world,” perspective. That will get narrowed down. The more clarity you get, the more focused you get, and the faster and easier it is for you to build your business.
I was just having this conversation with a new member recently. She was fretting over the fact that, “It seems like my goal is always changing, I’m always changing it.” I said, “Yes, of course.” Have you ever noticed something in the distance? Let’s say it’s something on the road and you’re driving and you see it in the distance and you’re thinking, “It’s an animal on the road.” As you get closer, it gets a little clear like, “No, it’s just rags or whatever.” Then as you get closer, maybe it morphs into something else, “It’s just a rolled up blanket.” As you get closer into it, of course it’s going to morph, of course you’re going to see it differently. One day you’re going to say it looks like this and the next day you’re going to say it looks like that. Don’t worry about it. That’s part of the process. You need to think in those terms and have new questions and ideas come into your mind around that target.
Something my husband says often, “As you grow your business, your business grows you.” That’s all tied into that whole focus thing, that whole clarity thing. Yes, you can set the goal today, and just know that it’s going to evolve, it’ll change. It’ll look like one thing one day and something else at the other. But at the end of the day, at the end of the journey, you’ll get to where you’re wanting to go. Don’t be attached to those little things of, “What if it changes? What if I say it differently?” Yes, you’re going to.
Growing your business, like you said, is going to grow you. When you grow you and yourself, you grow your business. The two go hand in hand. What I love about CEO Space is it gives people the opportunity to do both. September, thank you so much for being on the show. Outside of looking In the Clear Business Directory, where else can people find more information about upcoming events?
You can go to CEOSpaceInternational.com. You can look at different forum dates. You can look under new member information, it’ll tell you anything that you need to know about becoming a new member, including the next conference dates and how you get setup. If you know anybody that’s been into CEO Space, you can always reach out to them as well and they’ll help you get connected.
If you have any questions about CEO Space, you can reach out to us. We fill a lot of questions to CEO Space as well, especially on the due diligence piece. We are more than happy to answer any questions that you have. With that, September, thank you so much for being on the show. We look forward to seeing you and Berny in May.
My pleasure. Thank you so much, Justin.
Learn more about September Dohrmann and CEO Space International.