Personal Development

Kathleen Quinn Votaw: Unlocking the power of community

Kathleen Quinn Votaw at a speaking event

Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series highlighting Vistage members who also contribute to the community as speakers, sharing years of experience and thought leadership with their peers.

Kathleen Quinn Votaw’s talent acquisition and consulting company, TalenTrust, was just four years old when she joined Vistage in 2007. She was the first female member of her group, which at the time was primarily comprised of executives from the heavy construction, manufacturing and engineering fields.

Despite the market crashing less than a year into her membership, Quinn Votaw stuck it out with support from her group. The opportunity to stay with Vistage did more than help her company survive; it allowed her business to thrive throughout the Great Recession. In 2015 and 2016, TalenTrust was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies.

The Inc. recognition coincided with the release of her first book, “Solving the People Puzzle,” a guide for attracting and retaining top talent. Around the same time, she became a ChairWorld sponsor while finding additional ways to support and promote Vistage. When the Vistage sponsor team learned about her book, they suggested she talk about it.

Vistage member and speaker Kathleen Quinn Votaw
Vistage member and speaker Kathleen Quinn Votaw

“My response was, ‘I never intended to be a speaker and am not qualified,’” Quinn Votaw says. “They were adamant I was going to talk about the book. So, I started speaking at Vistage Executive Summits.”

Members raved about her presentations, inviting her to speak to their groups. Over the last decade, her sessions have become so popular that she limits them to 50 a year. She believes that being a member gives her an advantage over outside speakers because she has an intimate view of what happens during executive sessions and the real power of our community.

“I understand the dynamic between the Vistage Chair, the Vistage member and the Vistage Support Center,” she says. “Knowing what our community stands for — that we’re helping each other on the climb, talking about our issues, not just the speaker’s content and accountability — gives me an advantage over outside speakers.”

Nonmember speakers don’t realize they are competing with an executive session, she adds. When members attend their Vistage meetings once a month, they carve out time to “put the brakes on,” calm down and get input from others who have been there and done that — whether managing a business that is growing out of control, struggling with people issues or one that is losing money.

“That insight helps us overcome struggles, take on opportunities, think bigger and learn something different,” she says. “The speakers bring in strong content on learning differently, but if they’re not a member, sometimes it’s hard to apply it within the Vistage framework.”

Kathleen Quinn Votaw with her Vistage group in Denver

Quinn Votaw (second from right) with her Vistage CEO group in Denver.

Speaking for Vistage also offers advantages compared to giving talks to other organizations, Quinn Votaw says. For example, she receives rosters before each session, which provides the opportunity to know who is in the room before starting. It also enables her to find ways within the meeting to engage the member group with questions and resources.

“I’m a big fan of supplying resources to the members so they can get better at whatever your subject matter area is,” she says.

While speakers and members sign a non-solicitation agreement, generously offering resources helps establish connections, which allows for continuing the conversation once a session ends. That opportunity is essential, Quinn Votaw says.

“It’s so much easier to do business with another Vistage member because we share the same values,” she says. “We’re learners; we’re curious people. We want to grow. So, if somebody is a Vistage member, that is brand-centric. It opens many doors when you can talk about the fact that you’re a Vistage company.”

Kathleen Quinn Votaw with her family

Quinn Votaw (right) with her husband, Andy, and her son, John, on a scuba trip.

For speakers who want to reach Vistage members, Quinn Votaw says being part of the community is priceless.

“Figure out how to be part of the community, be part of the solution, be part of the resources, and not just somebody who wants to do business with the Vistage community,” she says. “Be somebody who gives to the Vistage community because the work we do matters.”

If Kathleen’s story interests you and you’d like to know more, explore our membership options and take your success to a new level. 

Category : Personal Development

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 45,000 high-caliber execu

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