Most independent ad agency CEOs I talk to have a dream to do ‘something bigger’ – something that’s poking around in their gut, waiting to burst out.

For some, that ‘something bigger’ never happens. The train has left the station.

I’m frequently asked, “How do I get to my business to the next level and get there faster?”

Getting to your next level is easier when you understand that your future success won’t come from what you already know now – but only from what you don’t know.

In other words, to get to your next level, you’ve got to acquire or add-on additional skills and knowledge.

Your next level is a ‘different space.” Imagine the additional skills a baseball player has to acquire to make the jump from the minors to the majors. Without learning those additional skills, that baseball player is doomed for a life-long career in the minors.

And that’s the challenge for advertising and marketing firms. What additional knowledge do you need to know that will get you to your next step? And where will you get it from?

You’ll need at least a 5% increase above and beyond the ad agency skills you already know now to get to that next level. If not, then you’re stuck … and you’re up at night figuring out the how’s and why’s of your dilemma. Stuck is a horrible position to be in.

Getting the 5% in additional skills is a grueling reach even for the most successful agency leader – unless you’ve got a support team that completely understands your goals – a team made up of other agency high-performers that has the experience to give you the additional knowledge – the powerful fuel that takes you to your next level.

In a recent CEO Stars ad agency advisory group session, together we discussed this issue of making it to the next step. It’s called ‘getting smarter, faster.”

It was a brutal session, especially when changes were recommended by each leader to each other. Listening and accepting new insights from your peers takes guts. It’s not for the timid.

However, with a little painful introspection and objectivity there are big rewards: Each agency leader has a direction and team behind each of them that is guaranteed to get them over the hump and to their own ‘something bigger.’

And it happens amazingly fast. In a one of a kind concept, that differs from the associations you may be familiar with, Agency owners that are part of CEO Stars ad agency advisory groups experience more insights and more growth than those ‘lonely on the island.’

Joel Cohen is the founder of CEO Stars – – a unique concept with a community of over 105 ad agency CEOs. Cohen is also the founder of Dreamland, USA – ‘An Imagineering Community’ – that helps leaders accomplish their ‘impossible.’