This core piece is one place we need lots of help. Can it get deep fast? Feel intense but organic and not overly structured? Cover the goals of a learning journey adequately to produce a satisfying outcome? Be an addictive experience?

Outlined below is just a starting point for discussions and experimentation.


Circles meet online for 90 minutes, every two weeks.  Sometimes, the group can push a meeting one week, but the time should not change. Anyone that misses a meeting is expected to listen to the recording and send a note to the group with thoughts. Rhythm is a key principle. Many small groups have adopted the natural rhythm of weekly, but is that too much? YPO meets monthly for 4 hours, another option to consider.

The kickoff meeting will be in-person to start things off. Face-to-face openings are a powerful ingredient in the jelling process, and I don’t think we can skip that for now. Some groups may elect to also meet in-person quarterly, or more often.


One of the ways to accomplish tight, deep meetings is preparation. We can’t ask too much in advance. In my experience with CEO forums, people’s level of prep is spotty. But using the active chat group I want to try to accomplish these things ahead of the meeting:

  • Choosing the specific exploration topic and leader, within the active journey
  • Updating each other on major developments in their life
  • Identifying if any member has an urgent topic that will replace the journey topic
  • Any scheduling changes or attendance issues
  • Identifying any administrative questions


  • Meta: 15 minutes. Every meeting opens with each learner doing a quick update about their last two weeks of learning.  These are in part a “how are you doing?” discussion to keep the group in synch. But in the update, we will ask them to refer to a specific topic from the “meta” curriculum that has been seeded in the chat group.
  • Exploration: 60 minutes on one topic.
    • Warmup Exercise: 4 minutes
    • Sharing: 8 people x 2 minutes/person x 3 rounds = 48 minutes
    • Takeaway: 8 minutes, 1 minute each
  • Logistics/Admin: 10 minutes. For example, selecting the next learning journey.
  • Optional: Some groups might want to extend the meeting to make room for a second exploration tackling a specific learner’s problem. And I’m struggling to fit our goals into 90 minutes. 2 hours would allow for a consistent second exploration on a topic of urgency to a member.


We’ll train learners to be great at explorations. This will start at kick-off. It will continue as part of the “meta” journey fed into the chat. Guides will coach groups as well. Topics like active listening, storytelling, exploring emotions will be part of this journey. I’ve found over the years that the exploration process itself is a teacher of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creative problem solving and and learning.

Each exploration will center around a question. For journey-explorations, the group will chose from a few different questions on a particular topic. A chosen leader will kick-off the flow presenting their personal experience with that question. Then, the discussion will continue across the circle, not in order, but with each member sharing equally. Our app will make this easy and feel organic. Learners free associate and explore their own strongest reactions to whatever has been said. As Shirzad explains, the conversation is like a river and participants are constantly looking to ride the strongest current to take them out to sea.

In the final round of one-minute each, each learner will state what they are taking away from the conversation.


The guide has several roles.  They keep the conversation moving. If the group is stuck or loses steam, they suggest a way through. They monitor equal air time. They provide feedback on the skills required to make an exploration successful. They are there to answer questions. Ultimately, they are trying to replace themselves by having the group itself take on these roles.


Share your comments and feedback over on this blog post.

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