720: Building Powerful Communities: How to Foster Leadership Growth | Tricia Benn

Podcast Cover Image: Building Powerful Communities: How to Foster Leadership Growth Featuring Tricia Benn
Podcast Cover Image: Building Powerful Communities: How to Foster Leadership Growth Featuring Tricia Benn

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Tricia Benn, the CEO of C-Suite Network, disrupts industries by building powerful communities. She’s on a mission to empower C-level executives with “The Hero Factor” – success beyond just the numbers.  

Her focus goes beyond financial success, emphasizing collaboration, integrity, and “The Hero Factor.”

Tricia served as an executive with experience in market research, telecom, media, and advertising. She drove double-digit growth as a Global Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer and Managing Director at a $3 billion holding company and is a sought-after speaker.

Join us as Tricia shares her 20+ years of experience driving growth and creating a collaborative space for business leaders.

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Building Powerful Communities: How to Foster Leadership Growth


Jeff Tomlin: I’m Jeff Tomlin and on this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Tricia Benn

Tricia is the CEO of the C-Suite Network, the General Manager of The Hero Club, and is a visionary leader dedicated to fostering the success of C-level executives, owners, and influencers. 

Leading with a mission to create a comprehensive platform encompassing community, content, counsel, and commerce, she champions collaboration, integrity, and transparency, emphasizing ‘The Hero Factor.’ 

With over 20 years of industry disruption, Tricia has a proven track record of building businesses, diversifying revenue streams, and achieving impressive year-over-year growth. Her executive roles span market research, telecommunications, media marketing, and advertising and include roles such as the Global Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at MDC Partners. As an award-winning business leader and international speaker, Tricia shares an empowering message, inspiring great leaders to elevate their businesses.

Get ready Conquerors for Tricia Benn coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.

C-Suite Network: Building Community for Executive Success 

Jeff Tomlin: Today we’ve got Tricia Benn, CEO of the C-Suite Network and general manager of The Hero Club. So lucky to have her. How are you doing today, Tricia?

Tricia Benn: I’m great, Jeff. Thank you so much. How are you?

Jeff Tomlin: I’m doing well. I’m doing well. I feel just so fortunate to have you on the show right now. We were lucky enough to have Jeff join us, Jeffrey Hayzlett, join us a little while ago, and now we’ve got you. And I love talking about what you guys built. I have a ton of respect for what you guys have built, and I can’t wait to dig into it a little bit more with you for the listeners to listen in because I think it’s a really special story.

Tricia Benn: Thank you so much. It’s definitely inspired and motivated us for many, many days.

Jeff Tomlin: So there’s a lot of things. We have to give people some background. First off, talk a little bit about TV show and the podcast that you host. So let’s start there and give them the background of that. Actually, if you want to go in from there, maybe just give us a little bit of background about the C-Suite Network and The Hero Club, what the motivation behind it was and how it started and where you’re at now. 

Tricia Benn: Absolutely. So the C-Suite Network is really I think of it as this enormous ecosystem with a platform that helps us deliver our brand promise. So the ecosystem, it’s based on our principles of relevancy, reach, reciprocity, respect, and that forms the basis of a culture of just tremendous executives, owners, investors, and influencers. So that’s who we serve in the C-Suite Network. And our platform is all about a great community that builds great content, that obviously leads to great commerce. And so our whole entire ecosystem and platform is all about seeing great leaders succeed wildly and deliver great impact with that success. And that’s the simple nutshell of what C-Suite Network is. And every day it’s truly inspiring because we want to be able to accomplish that real impact with our business success. So, Jeff, you asked me about the podcast. When I say that our brand promise is accelerated success, it kind of matters how you define success, and that is absolutely at the crux of so much nonsense that I know you see, all of us in business see everywhere. There’s the things that people are sold that don’t deliver. They’re the things they’re sold that are way more than they could ever use to see success. And then there’s flat-out fraud and robbery. There’s just all kinds of absolute nonsense that takes place in the market. So what we want to do is we have the most trusted network where we can use those principles and operate together where we’re avoiding those pitfalls. And knowing the name of the game is really The Hero Factor. You mentioned Jeffrey Hayzlett. He’s, of course, the award-winning author. And that hero factor is doing the right thing by people. It’s about putting people ahead of profits and seeing real success, real impact with the work that we do and certainly any success that we see.

C-Suite Network: Podcast Exposes Truth of Leader Success

Jeff Tomlin: I think it’s so profound to have a values-based organization that really leads first with the values and what’s important to you. Because like you touched on, there’s so many businesses out there where people’s primary aim is to make money. Now, of course, that’s the end, but I’ve seen so many businesses lose their way because they don’t have a problem that they’re trying to solve and a reason for being apart from making money. And then they can go in all sorts of different directions, and then you see all the negative side of businesses that you were touching on.

Tricia Benn: We really believe that most business leaders are values-based. I want to be values-based. They’re really truly about seeing the people they care about, the people they’re serving, succeed. That whole notion of leading with values means that you’re able to really align with where most of us as business leaders sit and knowing we’re not alone. And when you can avoid those pitfalls, when people tell you the truth of not only what worked, what didn’t work, but most importantly, why didn’t it work for you as a business leader, Jeff, because the reasons it worked or didn’t work for you might be the exact reasons it works or doesn’t work for me. But if you don’t tell me the truth of that, if I don’t understand from your sight lines why it did or didn’t work, then I don’t know anything really. I’m just being sold a bill of goods. And so if I can know what that is, then I know where I’m going. And when we look at success, so frequently we use this and what’s used in the marketplace as a nonsense measurement of success, if I could be like that person, if I could have the things they have, all the things that actually don’t really matter when you talk to people about real success in their lives. So what I’ve concluded over decades only working with high-level executives, not-for-profit leaders, political leaders, public, private, I mean, literally you name it, that’s my whole entire career, the things that people are sold to as success aren’t anything that anyone with real success actually talks about unless they’re an asshole. An asshole is an asshole and they’re going to tell you all kinds of things. Let’s throw that out. Real success, really great people, it’s so many other things. And that’s what the podcast and TV show C-Suite Success with Tricia Benn is all about. I just want to shed light the truth. I want to shed light on each leader’s truth of what motivates them, why they’re excited about their success, the impact they want to have, what they’re still striving for. It’s not like you suddenly have success and it’s over. It’s every day, and it’s that passion that builds and drives through your whole entire life and the impact you have with that success.

Sharing Fosters Trust, and Defines Leader Success

Jeff Tomlin: That’s inspiring. What makes the C-Suite Network work so well is this idea of transparency, because you have to get people open to sharing and really sharing. I wanted to share a quick story. One of the very first events that were put on that I went to was in Marina del Rey. And this would have been probably 2014, maybe 2015-ish. Probably 2014. When I went to that event, I underestimated exactly how valuable it would be to be in a room full of people that were working at this type of level. And not just being in a room with them, but being in an environment where people were really openly sharing and sharing really authentic stories. I remember at the beginning of the conference, I actually sat down when I got there the day before, and I went to the lobby bar in the hotel and Charles Barkley was sitting there at the bar watching one of the games. And I had the greatest evening watching a basketball game there sitting up to a bar with Charles Barkley, and he was the most down-to-earth guy that I’d ever talked to. And it was an amazing way to start off the trip to Marina del Rey. But anyways, that event had such a big impact on me because of the way people shared so transparently. I took more away from that event than any other. Maybe talk a little bit about how that mindset of transparency and sharing really makes this thing work.

Tricia Benn: The transparency is absolutely critical. If I tell you what happened truthfully and you’re able to apply that and run, I always say we’re not our teenage selves anymore. When we’re teenagers, we’re trying to break away from our parents. No, no, I got it. I’ll learn myself. As business leaders, you can’t afford that. You need as many trusted resources around you to help you navigate. There’s just too much out there. If you don’t have that trusted base, you are running blind, and that is so dangerous in a business. You’re losing money. You’re losing people. You’re losing opportunities. It’s tremendous. Trusting the wrong people, that’s even worse, but it’s absolutely critical the transparency. The other thing I think is really critical is navigating and having that trusted group support you in your success. And that’s another thing we see frequently is people want to define what success is for someone else. I think that’s the absolute clearest line to failure there is. If you allow someone else to define what success is for you, you’ve already failed. And I can guarantee you will continue to because you’re not setting up the rules. You mentioned earlier about making money, Jeff. For me, let’s gamify our lives. We get to play. We get to do something really important with our success, with our time. We do something that matters, that means something, that serves people in so many ways. And we all have that choice in business. I don’t care what your business is, you are serving and you are serving a critical mission if you’ve got it aligned properly. And now you look at it and say, “Okay, so I’ve got a mission that matters and I’m going to deliver on that mission. And if I am defining what success is, I’m going to play by the rules, which is I have to make money to keep playing and keep having that impact and the success and who I choose to be on the journey with me.” So to me, it’s just gamify it. That’s just one of the rules of the game. You have to make money sustainably to have the impact you want to have and be on the mission you’re on to deliver that impact.

Build Community on Shared Mission & Value

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah, 100%. Tricia, you’ve got a very diverse background from different industries, a ton of experience. I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the brass tacks and tactics. A lot of companies try to build communities. Building a community, by the way, is a fantastic way to build a strong company no matter what type of industry you’re in. But building communities are challenging. They have to be nurtured, and you’ve got to put the right stuff into it. So maybe talk a little bit about some of the tactics and takeaways that people can have if they wanted to build a community. What are some of the things that really make the C-Suite Network work?

Tricia Benn: So Jeff, you mentioned my background. I come from three enterprise-sized organizations as an executive entrepreneur, always building businesses in Canada, the US, and a little bit of the UK. There are some very practical things about creating success in an organization or working your way up that ladder. Practically speaking, always stay close to the money. How are you driving success with the organization? How are you delivering on real value, extended value, more lifetime value with customers, and so on? And you can go on and on about the practicalities about how you do that and how you measure it that you’re delivering against those metrics and those things that matter to the organization and its mission and financial sustainability to do it. So that’s absolutely practically critical. Stay close to that picture and deliver real value. On the community side of things, there’s another book that I really value, and that’s Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Leading Without Authority. A really great book because community within organizations is helping people understand why what you’re doing will create value for them, for the delivery of the value that they’re promised to, and to make them part of something that matters, and delivering greater value outside of even just those immediate focus areas. So for me, community is all about creating alignment around that mission and the vision that inspires it, and then how you are valuing diverse teams that will bring strengths. Again, avoid pitfalls. I don’t care if you’re an introvert, extrovert, male, female, short, or tall, none of this matters. What matters is you’re bringing different perspective and value to deliver on that mission. And if you know something, Jeff, I’m sure you know so many things I don’t know that I don’t live every day, my goodness. If you and I are aligned on a mission, that makes us at least three times more powerful in terms of what we can do and what we can navigate together knowing what we know together and having our skillset. So for me, that community is always about how are you supporting success, and how are you delivering on that for your team. Those are things that I measure in my team. So what are your goals? What are your stretch goals? And how are you delivering against the team’s success? What is your give? And it’s always reciprocal within that team dynamic and the culture and then the alignment against the mission.

Jeff Tomlin: Yeah, always got to be able to measure.

Tricia Benn: Yes.

Grew during Pandemic by Prioritizing Members and Virtual Events

Jeff Tomlin: I want to ask you about some lessons. Building any type of organization, we have our ups and we have our downs. I wanted to talk about maybe pick one up. So give a story about a milestone that you guys hit as you’ve been building the organization where it was a win, where you could look back and say, “Hey, we thought this was the right thing to do. We executed against it. It was a huge win, and we hit this milestone. And I’ll never forget it.” Tell us a little story about something.

Tricia Benn: Yes. I’ll give you one that’s very immediate. Right now we are in hockey stick growth. We’re getting ready for our 10-year overnight success. And the scaling of the last three years has been incredible. Just absolutely tremendous. And that came out of the largest pain of our whole organization, which, like many, 2020 with COVID was absolutely catastrophic. We went from 120 in-person events a year to none in-person. It wasn’t just the way that we were bringing members in, it was the way that we were nurturing all of the membership and partnerships and so on was those in-person events. And what we did was through maximum pain, we quadrupled or quintupled down on our members in terms of the time we were spending with them. We met with them every week. We promised not to cancel a single thing. And you mentioned Jeffrey Hayzlett with The Hero Factor. March 13th, the world shut down. March 16th was the Monday. That was Friday. By Monday the whole world had changed. And Monday morning he said, “Listen, we’re going to stay and we’re going to serve. We are not healthcare first responders, but we are business first responders.” And so we implemented against not cancelling anything. So we moved everything over to virtual events. As I said, we quintupled down on our membership deliverables. We built out our whole digital ecosystem and served during an outrageously difficult time. Now, obviously, there were deaths and it was a very frightening time from that perspective. From a business perspective, this is business as usual. It’s just that we don’t usually all go through catastrophic events at the same time. So what happened was within a month, we had completely adjusted everything over. We’d let everyone know that we were not backing down, or backing away from anything. If anything, we were going to be there more, more, more. And we built out that whole digital ecosystem, including our C-suite Celebrates on Friday evenings, which is probably… That’s a funny story and a beautiful story.

But we had our stakes all laid in the ground and we built around that. So 2020 was our worst year. In 2021, 2022, and 2023, we actually doubled our net profit through those years of scaling. Now, not to the size we want to. I mean, this is a billion-dollar platform we’re building. We want to be part of the entire ecosystem of what trusted business leaders do to sell and buy all of their products and services. And we’re so excited about how we’re scaling around all of that, finding what works for all the different business leaders we work with. But that success was absolutely the direct result of actions right from day one of the COVID shutdown.

2024 Advice – Focus on Mission, and Surround with Aligned People

Jeff Tomlin: What an amazing story of resiliency, which clearly was critical for every business that went through COVID. So, Tricia, the year is now 2024. The last year has had all sorts of, probably if you look at the last 12 months, all sorts of ups and downs for people. And what advice are you giving to business leaders, especially if you’ve got somebody that’s looking to up their game, up their business performance in 2024, what’s your number one tip out there?

Tricia Benn: My number one for 2024 is to remember what success looks like for you. Really focus on what that success is. I think for nearly all of us in business leading our companies, we don’t do this for the fame or the glory of it. It is hard work. It is challenging. There are no guarantees, and we make sure our teams get paid before we get paid. This is not easy work. So I would say really focus in on your mission and why you’re doing what you’re doing, and then make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with the expertise and quality of people that will see you to your success and are aligned on your mission, however small the role. There’s Sheryl Sandberg’s book. She says, “If you’re invited on the rocket ship, it doesn’t matter which seat you sit on.” So get on that rocket ship with others that you care about and you’re aligned in terms of their mission and how they want to deliver impact with their success and bring those on with you and really see that out in a way that inspires you, that excites you, and certainly all the people you have around you to deliver on those results that you need and gamify. Money is just the excuse for getting to do great work and with great people.

Jeff Tomlin: That’s amazing. We’ve got a saying around the office here as we’re working through bumps in the road, “Hey, if this shit was easy, everyone would do it.”

Tricia Benn: Exactly.

Jeff Tomlin: It’s hard work.

Tricia Benn: It’s so true. It is.

Getting in touch with Tricia Benn

Jeff Tomlin: Tricia, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. If people wanted to continue the conversation, how do they reach out to you and what would you like them to do next?

Tricia Benn: I’m on almost all the social channels, so everything but TikTok, I think. And also just tricia@c-suitenetwork.com. And it’s Tricia, T-R-I-C-I-A, and then C-Suite is C-Suite, S-U-I-T-E, network.com. And of course, Friday is a celebration of everything in business and with great leaders. So everybody would be more than welcome from your audience, Jeff, to come and join us on a Friday evening. We have a lot of fun. It’s permission to push pause and celebrate in the C-Suite. Bring what you want, water to whiskey, and we have a great conversation every Friday night. Lots of great people. And I bring in some special guests here and there too. So we have a lot of fun.

Jeff Tomlin: One of the most exclusive and empowering communities out there that I could think of. Tricia, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Thanks for taking some of the very, very valuable time out to join us here in the show. I wish you all the best, and I look forward to joining one of your events on Fridays, especially with a glass of scotch at the end of the week. And thanks again for joining us and hope to see you back in the show sometime down the road.

Tricia Benn: It would be my honour. Thank you so much, Jeff.


Jeff Tomlin: I’ve got a ton of respect for what Tricia and the team have built over at the C-Suite Network. I’ve been to a few of their events and I have a few things to say. First off, they are engaging and interactive. You’re not just a member in the audience. I was pretty nervous attending the first couple of events but I’ll tell you, what I found is that the country’s biggest and most high-powered executives are some of the most genuine and giving people – both in terms of their time and their experience and their wisdom.

I had a couple of takeaways from the chat with Tricia.

The first takeaway is Real Success is More Than Numbers: Tricia challenges the traditional definition of success focused on profit and metrics. True success involves leading with value, building a trusted network, and empowering diverse teams. She highlights the importance of transparency and fostering a community that supports individual and collective growth.

Another takeaway is to embrace Disruption as Opportunity: Tricia shared her story of overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic. By adapting their strategy, and fostering deeper connections with members, and building a strong digital ecosystem, they achieved incredible growth. This takeaway emphasizes the importance of resilience, adaptability, and seeing disruption as a catalyst for positive change.

If you’ve enjoyed Tricia’s episode discussing redefining executive success and building thriving leadership communities, keep the conversation going and revisit some of our older episodes from the archives: Check out Episode 625: Building a Strong C-Suite Community with Jeffrey Hayzlett or Episode 644: Scaling Global Brands to 10+ Figures Using Omnichannel Marketing with Justin Brenner

Until next time, I’m Jeff Tomlin. Get out there and be awesome!