Joel Cohen

CEO and Founder

Years Ago, I Was Just Like You

I was a successful ad agency owner. And like you, I was running the show. A show that I thought I knew all about, (don’t we all) but was really never sure. Despite success, I made some bad decisions, wasted a lot of money – all the things other agency owners sometimes go through.

Despite hiring consultants who ended up teaching me things I knew already, there were times I felt desperately alone, with no other agency leaders to confide in. I was working in my own ‘bubble’ – in my own lonely tower. I didn’t join the mega ad associations, honestly, I couldn’t justify the expense of attending their meetings overseas or at posh island resorts and wondering if I’d ever fit in with the “big guys.”

In looking back, I have to admit that the effects of isolation – not having the support of a peer group for instant feedback, probably prevented me from getting over that growth hump – the one where you get that big client and you go from 15 to 25 employees.


I Successfully Cashed Out

While I successfully cashed out at 50, I wonder how much more I could’ve grown with my own advisory group of agency leaders who were going through the same issues and opportunities that I was experiencing.

How much better would my business disciplines be? How much better of a job would I have done in hiring and retaining employees? And, how much money could I have saved, by not buying that dreaded expensive software program. Ugh. How many more good nights sleeps I would have had?

If only I had some trusted advisors back then, who had “been there and done that”, where we could have shared ideas, and solved problems immediately!

The effects of isolation, even if you have a partner, are silent and invisible, until you realize that you’ve been an agency leader chasing your own tail, fighting internal fires and a slowdown in growth.


Why I Started CEO Stars

I started CEO Stars six years ago because I didn’t want agency leaders to go through what I went through. I wanted agency owners to reach their potential and what they were really capable of doing.

I wanted agency executives to learn from each other; solve problems and share ideas in a non-competitive confidential environment.

I wanted agency leaders, who have a dream inside their gut, that’s burning to get out, to realize that dream. To get to their desired destination, before they were done.

To my fellow ad agency owners and CEOs, this is for you.