Mike Schoenberger is the founder of Sunco, a company that keeps businesses connected with telecom solutions. Thanks to strong leadership and a clear vision, the company has grown an average of 15- 20% a year since their inception. Schoenberger credits much of that success to his membership in Entrepreneurs’ Organization and other peer groups. We caught up with him just before he jetted off to an EO leadership retreat in Banff to ask how being a member has changed his business – and his life.
I was part of another peer group but was looking for something more. EO appealed because there’s such a strong sense of community, with events that let us connect across forums. Plus, there’s so much opportunity for continuous learning.
I think every entrepreneur should be part of some sort of peer group. Running a business can be lonely. The average person doesn’t face the stress of “am I going to make payroll,” or “what do I do when a key employee leaves”, or “holy crap, COVID hit and now I have to completely rethink what my company does.” But another owner will totally get it. Coming at challenges from that place of shared experience is powerful: it builds trust, which in turn, opens up opportunities for meaningful conversation.
Experience sharing is number one. The EO forums aren’t about judging or giving advice: they’re about members sharing their own experiences. That approach has changed how I run my own business.
For example, I was always a “fix-it” kind of guy. There’d be a problem and I’d jump right in. But some people don’t want you to fix their problems. They just want you to listen and be supportive. EO has taught me to quiet my mind, to really listen and make people feel heard, to understand the situation and respond from that place. That’s been transformational for my business. And it has changed things for me personally, too: not giving advice and not trying to fix but just listening and telling my own story has also improved the way I interact with my wife and son.
We keep each other on our toes. The 9 of us are always challenging each other, not just on business goals but personal ones, too. It’s an accountability group, a self-help group and a business development group, all rolled into one.
There’s a lot of trust. These are people I can count on no matter what situation I’m in. My wives parents are elderly and are dealing with dementia – my forum is a place I can just vent with no judgment or expectations. If someone has dealt with a similar experience, they’ll share it, or they’ll talk about a time they felt powerless and didn’t know what to do. There’s always a nugget that helps me look at life a little differently.
As many as possible – there’s so much EO offers for continuous learning! There are courses we can take at places like the Harvard School of Business or the London School of Economics that aren’t available to any other peer groups. There are incredible events and speakers. And there are so many opportunities to learn by doing. For example, each forum member has a chance to moderate for a year. When it was my turn, I got great training on how to moderate, coach and be coached, which has helped me in my business and my life.
There’s a lot to love, but if I had to pick one thing, it’s the chance to give back to the business community. I have mentored 8 companies in the EO Accelerator program, which helps businesses that aren’t quite big enough for membership to scale up. It’s very rewarding, I get back as much as I give.
Why wouldn’t you want to join a network of smart people who’ve been there, done that, and have your back? There are so many different levels of experience to tap into, and so many benefits. Being a member has helped me move my business – and myself – forward. I’m a better communicator, a better coach and, I think, a better husband and father. Through EO, I’m living a stronger, more fulfilling life.
Mike Schoenberger, Edmonton Branch
Founder, Sunco Communication & Installation
$8M – $10M
In business 20+ years
EO Member for 3 years
Posted on 2022-05-11