What is the Young Presidents Organization?

networking

The business world has never been so lucrative…. nor so competitive. As more markets open up and competition becomes ever more fierce, so the need for strong relationships grows ever stronger. It’s not enough to have a good relationship with the folk in your office, anymore – these days, contacts are currency, and if those contacts span businesses, industries, and even continents, so much the better. The Young Presidents Organization (YPO) is an organization that aims to foster business success and good leadership through networking. Comprising of thousands of top executives from around the globe, it creates personal connections between the leaders of almost every type of business and every type of industry, regardless of which part of the world they come from. Each of its 30,000+ members has achieved phenomenal success in their area of expertise at a young age. By offering a platform to allow those leaders to share their experiences and gain new knowledge through peer learning, YPO allows its members to become better leaders and better people. Here’s everything you need to know about this global leadership community.

The Early Years

The Young Presidents Organization was established in 1950 in Rochester, New York, by a 27-year-old manufacturer named Ray Hickok. Hickok had just taken the reins at his family business, a 300-employee belt maker named Hickok Belt. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Hickok recognized something other business owners may have suspected, but which none had done anything about: namely, that only those who run companies can truly understand the stresses and strains involved. After deciding to put his thoughts into action, Hickok formed the Young Presidents Organization with the express aim of providing a forum and a platform through which young local presidents and top-tier executives could come together to exchange ideas, share wisdom, and in the process, become better leaders. The very first Young Presidents Organization meeting was held at Waldorf Astoria New York in 1950. Among its attendees was Robert Wood Johnson III, a 30-year-old businessman and the heir apparrent of Johnson & Johnson. Soon, word about the new organization began to spread, and further chapters began to spring up around the country. Within just six years of that first meeting, the first non-US chapter was formed in Ontario, Canada. Further international chapters soon followed.

The Young Presidents Organization Today

The Young Presidents Organization may have started life as a tiny collective of New York-based movers and shakers, but from tiny acorns, grow mighty trees. Today, the Young Presidents Organization has over 30,000 members spread across 14 regions and 142 countries. According to the organization’s official website, the combined revenue of YPO member-run companies now stands at $9 trillion, while the combined number of employees of YPO member-run companies stands at 22 million. In short, it’s a phenomenon, having grown from a small, regional organization into one of the largest global networks in the world.

Part of the reason for its continued growth and success is down to the way it’s evolved with the times. During its earliest years, the organization was, if not a secret club, then one that steadfastly refused to air its laundry in public. Meetings were private – whatever was discussed, stayed between members. Since then, its policy has changed drastically. Membership may still be protected by strict rules, but YPO is now an organization that courts the wider world. Members are free (and actively encouraged) to publish publicly accessible articles via its website. In 2012, it opened up even further when it forged an editorial partnership with CNBC, the first partnership of its kind in the organization’s history and a huge opportunity to engage with the news network’s broad audience. Each year, YPO hosts around 50 events worldwide for both members and guests with the intention of broadening networking opportunities. It also holds an annual leadership gathering called YPO EDGE. The conference takes place in a different city each year, bringing together a wide range of leaders, guest speakers, subject matter experts, and visionaries to share, educate, and, most crucially of all, form new relationships and new networking opportunities with people from almost every country and every sector of the business world.

Qualifying For Membership

The Young Presidents Organization has a strict eligibility criteria for membership. According to Wikipedia, all potential members need to have reached the position of President, CEO, Chairman of the Board, Managing Director, Managing Partner, or the equivalent title at a company or a division of a company that has either a minimum of 50 employees or 15+ full-time employees and a minimum annual employee compensation of $2 million. The company is required to generate a minimum revenue per year, depending on company type- sales, service and manufacturing businesses are expected to generate $13,000,000+, agencies $10,000,000+, and financial institutions $260,000,000+. Candidates need to be below the age of 45 at the time of induction. Prospective candidates will usually need to obtain the recommendation of two members of their local chapter before proceeding. They will then be interviewed and approved by the chapter’s membership committee to ensure the values of the candidate are aligned with those of the organization. If the candidate is approved, their spouse will be granted automatic membership. Although it’s a non-profit, membership of the Young Presidents Organization doesn’t come for free. After proving the value of both their company and themselves, prospective new members will need to hand over a one-time initiation fee of $3,975.00 before they can become full members, along with pro-rated annual dues for the current fiscal year.

Notable Members of the Young Presidents Organization

Since its inception 70 years ago, the Young Presidents Organization has attracted numerous notable names to its ranks. According to Fortune, some of the most prominent members from the organization’s early years included the founder and CEO of Charles Schwab Corporation, Charles R Schwab, Leonard Lauder of the Estee Lauder fortune, and Ray Lee Hunt of Hunt oil. Other notable names to join in subsequent years include the former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Peter Ueberroth; CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding and former CEO of Procter and Gamble, Coca Cola and British American Tobacco, James Michael Lafferty; Founder & former CEO of Intuit, Scott Cook; Co-Founder & former Co-CEO of Research in Motion/Blackberry, Jim Balsille; COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg; and founder of United Artists motion picture studio, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

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