Skip to content

Vistage CEO Sam Reese says: If you want to grow as a leader, box yourself in.

February 14, 2024
Vistage CEO Sam Reese says: If you want to grow as a leader, box yourself in.

Sam Reese

Vistage CEO says: If you want to grow as a leader, box yourself in.

Don Yaeger’s Corporate Competitor Podcast Episode 168

Sam Reese’s high school track coach taught him that while it’s important to set goals, it’s even more important to follow through on them.

Ill-prepared for the state championship track meet due to an injury that sidelined him most of the season, Sam asked his coach about his race strategy. “I haven’t been running all year,” he began. “What place should I be running for?”

The coach replied, “At the beginning of the season, you said you were going to be the state champion?” When, puzzled, Sam told the coach that his goal now seemed unlikely, the coach flatly replied, “Then don’t run… but I thought you wanted to win it?”

“I do want to win it,” said Sam as the coach’s meaning began to dawn on him. “So, go for the win,” said the coach. Sam ended up winning and went on to become an All-American track and cross country athlete at the University of Colorado Boulder. 

His coach’s lesson — once you set a goal, commit to action to achieve it — may sound simple and even obvious, admits Sam, but this fails to account for human nature, which can always come up with ways for “talking ourselves out of” committing to action. 

Sam overcomes the inclination by remembering his track experience every day. “You wake up in the morning in Boulder, Colorado, and you look outside, and there’s three feet of snow on the ground,” explained Sam in the podcast. “You can talk yourself out of the effort by saying it’s too cold. But if, instead, you just put the shoes on and go, you never, ever regret it. You feel great the rest of the day.”

Sam adopted his goal-setting ethos to fashion a 35-year career as a business leader and, today, is CEO of Vistage, a CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses. Today, more than 45,000 members in 35 countries rely on Vistage to help make better decisions for their companies, families and communities. 

In our conversation, Sam shared his thoughts on ways leaders can hold themselves and their teams to a bolder standard of “action,” including: 

  • Setting your personal goals around the “Six F’s” of family, finances, function (career), fitness, faith and future.
  • Building a great team by first declaring what you believe in so others can hold you accountable and better align with you in their work. 
  • Thinking in terms of achieving personal and organizational breakthroughs. 


Never Miss An Episode

You will receive a FREE chapter from Don’s best-selling book on GREAT TEAMS when you subscribe.

Download Free Bonus Resource

Be the first to comment on "Vistage CEO Sam Reese says: If you want to grow as a leader, box yourself in."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *