Episode 81: CEO Retreat

I take time to get away for a CEO Retreat every quarter, and it’s something I recommend for every CEO.

As a business owner, you need to be spending time thinking and planning for the future. 

But instead, you get stuck in the day-to-day grind.

It’s time to step away from focusing solely on short-term goals to focus on the big picture.

If you aren’t crystal clear on what’s next in your business, fully confident it’s possible, and have a solid strategy to make it happen, a CEO Retreat may be exactly what you need.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why every business owner needs a CEO Retreat.
  • The essential elements of a CEO Retreat 
  • And my personal agenda for my Quarterly CEO Retreats

Featured on the Show:


Welcome to Scale to Seven®! Your behind-the-scenes look at what it really takes to scale your business to seven figures. I'm your host Kathryn Binkley, business and leadership coach for online entrepreneurs. Here's what I know, building a business that will generate millions requires the mindset, strategy, and action of a future seven-figure CEO, starting now. Ready to Scale to Seven®? Let's go! 

Hey, everybody, I just got back from a CEO retreat. And this is something that I like to do every single quarter. And I want to tell you about it because I think you should do it too. In fact, every time I go, and I share some of the behind-the-scenes on social media, I get DMS every single time. And if you haven't seen the behind the scenes of my personal CEO retreats, then be sure to follow me on Instagram because I share all that kind of stuff there and you can see what I do, I typically share some of that behind the scenes, I'm going to share some of that today here for you as well. But if you want to actually see it and not just hear about it, then go follow me on Instagram. And the thing is people always comment, sometimes the same people are commenting, quarter after quarter when they see my posts, and they say they still need to make time to do this. They haven't done it yet. They wanted to maybe six months ago, like two quarterly retreats ago, and they still haven't done it. And they're like, oh, yeah, I need to make time to do that. 

And because of that, I've decided to do something fun. I've opened up three spots for a private virtual CEO day, you'll get a day with me and my COO, we're going to tailor the agenda specifically to you and what your business needs. And if you want to turn it into your own CEO retreat, we're going to tell you how you can just book a couple of nights away before and after our CEO day, where we'll spend time together on strategy and coaching. And you can take that extra time away to relax and really set the stage for the next quarter to come. And if you want one of these three spots, then keep listening. I'm going to tell you more about what this looks like. But also go visit the link that we will share in the show notes to learn more and claim your spot. Okay? Now, why do you even need a CEO retreat? You might be wondering, what is this? Well, CEO-level thinking is one of the most valuable things, if not the most valuable thing in my opinion that a business owner can spend their time on yet too many of you are stuck in that day to day grind of just getting things done and focused on meeting your current goals. The thing is your business needs you to be thinking about the future and guiding the direction. So while you and if you have a team, your team are focused on meeting your current goals, you also need to be stepping out from time to time to focus on what's next. So it's not enough to be working on your short-term goals, you need to be clear about what's next, and make sure that's all in alignment. And so it's really important that you change things up and step out of that day to day to really focus on the business. I know you've heard this before, right? You need to focus on the business versus staying in it. I like to spend time every week thinking about my business, but this quarterly CEO retreat is where I really take the time to get clear on the plans for the next quarter. And I always revisit my long-term vision too. 

But we'll talk about what I cover in a few minutes. First, let's talk about some of the essential elements of a CEO retreat. Here's what has to be involved for a successful CEO retreat, in my opinion, a change of environment. So can you walk through all of the questions all of the thinking all of the planning in your day-to-day office or at home, of course, but I personally see so much value in mixing things up? I don't know what it is, it feels like magic. I can't really explain it. But when I booked a room at a resort or a hotel, sometimes in the same city, sometimes just 15 minutes away, I hold book a hotel, and everything changes, for me. It's like being in a different spot. My brain just unlocks all of these creative ideas that wouldn't have otherwise appeared when I was sitting at my desk that I said it every day. And so again, it feels like magic. There's probably something to it just my thinking, and just like the habits of what I typically do the typical distractions of being in my everyday environment changes when I go somewhere new. And so that's the first piece is really changing up your environment. So again, sometimes I'll just go 15 minutes away, or you know, 45 minutes away and do something local at a local hotel or resort. Sometimes I'll actually go away further, I used to like to travel a bit further away once, you know this pandemic hit attended to go places a little bit closer and stay kind of within an hour drive versus flying somewhere cool or fun, I would love to get back to that sometime. I will say, oftentimes, in the past, before, like pre-pandemic, I would tag this on to the end of a trip, like a business trip. So if I needed to go to a conference, or if I was having some kind of a VIP coaching day with my coach, or if I, you know, for whatever reason needed to get away to see a client or someone else, I would just tackle it onto the end of that and extend it to get that time in. So I used to do that. Now lately, I've just been doing it more local. You do you choose whatever you want to choose. But I recommend changing up your environment in some way. 

The second essential element is having some fun, you want to create that environment of creativity, and so I've done some different things this last retreat, I went to an interactive Van Gogh Exhibit that was so much fun, it was so inspiring to see the art literally projected on the ceiling, the walls, the floor, every surface around me was covered with this artwork, paired with amazing music that was composed sometimes just to fit the artwork and sometimes paired with classical music from the classics. It was again, it was phenomenal, it was inspiring, it was something different. And it really, in a way grounded me and helped me be present. And at the same time, shift my mind and unlock a different side of my brain. So that was just fun to get away and do something different. Other times I've done things as simple as just like dancing, whether it's for fun, or I actually used to be a dancer, if you didn't know that about me, I dance from the time I was very little all the way through college, I was in our dance company. And so sometimes I will dance because that's how I like to really express that creativity. But you could do anything, anything that's fun. But I think that's essential, you have to do something to really unlock that side. 

And then I think another element is relaxation. I mean, you've worked so hard. So even if it's not going to be essential for you to get out of it, what you came for, as far as the ideas and the strategies, think you just deserve a break, you deserve some pampering, or whatever you decide, for me, let's go to this last quarterly retreat, I scheduled two different in-room spa treatments where they came to me right in my room. So I had a spa treatment the night I got there to really set the stage. I also had one the night before I left, that was a different treatment. And so it was just fun to experience something new one was just a relaxing massage. And then one was something new that I hadn't done before. And it's just really, you know, a little adventurous, but also relaxing. Nothing crazy though, just like a body like scrub and wrap. Now, sometimes relaxing means for me, for introvert me not going out to get food but either ordering food ordering room service, things like that. I also got this gorgeous room with a big bubble bath. It was like a spa bathroom and huge bubble bath. And I am a bath person. So that was relaxing to me. So that's a few of the things that I did for this last one. 

And then the next one is the next essential element is intentions, you need to know what you want to walk away with when you go. Now, most of the time. For me personally, this stays the same. I schedule it quarterly and the general thing that I want to walk away with stays the same. And that is I want to walk away with my strategic plan for the quarter. Every once in a while I have something specific, some question that's been lingering, or some decision that needs to be made. And I set an intention to make that decision or answer that question before I leave. It's like a puzzle. I'm going to figure it out. Or it's a decision and I'm going to give myself that time. But then I'm going to make the decision. And so I often use that time for that but it's important to not wait until you get there to figure out what you should do or spend your time on the to already be prepared. So I think about what I want to accomplish, and I set the agenda before I ever go every single time I tailor the agenda to what I need to get out of it this specific quarter, even though some of the things repeat a lot for this strategic planning piece. There are always elements that are new or different. 

The last essential element is thinking time, you have to plan time to think, for me, this means typically canceling mode, I would say most of my calls, sometimes I will still take a couple of calls, like if I have a mastermind call or something. while I'm there, I will jump back into coaching mode for an hour if it happens to overlap with that day. But a lot of times I'll schedule it on days when I don't have calls. Or I will shift my schedule around and make sure I free up my time, I definitely do not attend any of my team meetings, I don't schedule any other work for me to do those days, I clear my schedule for the most part so that I can focus on thinking and strategic planning. So those are the essential elements. And then this is my typical agenda. As I said, I tailor this every time. So there are always parts and pieces that get added. But I want to walk you through kind of the typical flow. So I always, always start by reflecting back on the last quarter and evaluating. I never want to set plans to move forward until after I'm clear on really why things happened the way they happened last quarter, right? Like I want to, I want to look at the trend. I want to see if I hit my goal? And if so, like, what went well, if I didn't, what didn't go well. But most importantly, what are the lessons from, from both of those? What are the lessons that I can learn if something went well, I want to know why it went well, so I can replicate it? And if something didn't go well, I certainly want to debrief on that and make sure that I'm clear on what needs to shift or what we need to focus on to get a different result. 

A lot of that comes back to mindset and my thoughts but sometimes there are the strategic action items that need to shift. So I want to get clear on all of that first, really reflect back and evaluate, that really informs the next phase. So I don't like to go into this next piece until I've done this, because the next phase is all about setting goals, and evaluating my beliefs, and actually creating my own belief plan. So what am I talking about here, after I know what happened and why last quarter, I decide what I want to accomplish the next quarter. Oftentimes, I already have some high-level idea. But I'm really refining that. And really giving a clear, intentional focus for the overall company, I'm going to start by looking at big picture vision. I'm going to look at long-term, medium-term, and short-term vision that I'm going to turn that short term vision into goals for the next quarter. I'm going to have a single company goal, that is what our entire team is focused on. And then we break that goal, I break that goal down into different goals for each department to focus on. And all of those department goals support the bigger company goal. Now, all this talk of departments, if you're a solopreneur, or you have a small team, I want you to know, this is still something you can do, even if you're the only one part of our process is to help you think of your business like a company and start setting goals based on the core functions of your business. 

So we can help you figure out what those are, and really make all of this make sense. If you want help, just let us know, reach out, this is what we do. But if you break that down into the smaller goals by department, then you've got your marching orders for your team for what needs to happen. Like, here's what everyone's going to rally around, then it's great to have goals, but it's only a goal is only as good as your belief in it and your belief in yourself. To achieve that goal, your belief in your team, you have to believe that it's possible. And so then I create a belief plan, I take some time and think about what I need to believe, which is really another way of saying who I need to become in order to reach this goal. I need to become that next-level version of myself, the type of person, the type of woman, the type of CEO who believes that this is possible. So I write down all the things that I need to believe and spend some time on that. If that's all you did, that would be super valuable that would be worth the amount of time that you spent away but then the next phase just to drive that home is to turn those goals into an action plan. So then I focus on the strategies and tactics that we're going to use to achieve those goals by the department and break all of that down. It's crazy what I walk away with, after one of these CEO retreats, there's always so much clarity, there's always this, like fresh energy. From just taking the time away, this renewed excitement. I always come back to the team so excited to tell them what we're going to focus on the direction we're headed, to share with them, what we need to do, and then turn that all into project plans and get to work. They feel inspired. We're all working towards one goal together, and it feels incredible. 

But it all starts with taking this time away and really spending that time to think about your business to work on your business versus working in it. Okay, so now is the time to be thinking about this, make sure you're setting the time aside because right now is when you should be planning if you haven't already, you need your plan for Q4, or if you're listening to this later, you need your plan for the next quarter right now, the date that these releases were just a few days before the beginning of Q4. If you don't have clarity, if you haven't taken any time away to work on your business this quarter this year, maybe even the last few years. It's time, you're overdue. And this is part of your responsibility as the business owner as the CEO. So put some time on your calendar, think through some of the things that I talked about. And if you want us to guide you through it, if we if you want us to tailor exercises specifically to you. If you want us to curate this specific agenda to help you work through the biggest decisions that you need to make or the biggest challenges that you're facing your business, then check out our CEO day. Let's get CEO retreat on your schedule. Let's help you walk away with this clarity and set you up to end this year strong. Okay CEO, put it on your calendar. Don't wait until you see me posting about my next quarterly retreat on Instagram before you get it booked. Whether you do it yourself or you reach out to us for help take this time. I can't stress this enough. The importance of the value in this makes it a priority. Okay? Once you do, I want to hear all about it as well. So, be sure to post it on Instagram stories. If you have a retreat tag us. Let us know that you booked your retreat that you're having your time away and want to hear about it. Okay, talk to you next week.

Hey, if you're ready to Scale to Seven®, I want to invite you to join the Scale to Seven® Mastermind. It's my coaching program designed to turn your online business into a self-sustaining scalable business that can generate millions. Just head over to kathrynbinkley.com/scale-to-seven. We'll see you inside!


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