Destination education

May 07, 2018

Zweig Group offers plenty of opportunities for education and training, but among the crown jewels are The Principals Academy and CEO Roundtable.

If you work in the AEC industry, it almost goes without saying that you do important work – you design, create, and build many of the buildings, spaces, and structures that make our lives safer, healthier, and more satisfying. We are privileged at Zweig Group to support the mission of this industry by sharing the knowledge gained from our decades of experience helping and learning from the best performing firms.

To that end, we also design, create, and build at Zweig Group – but rather than structures, we engineer experiences. Specifically, we are talking about the conferences, seminars, and other events where high-quality educational content is delivered through a physical environment that is conducive to learning, and a social environment that fosters human interaction.

Taking precious time away from the job to attend an educational or training event may be viewed as either a “nice to do” or as a “need to do.” But we believe the experience can both satisfy the senses and accomplish essential professional growth objectives. Beyond ensuring the quality of speakers and content, there are a couple of core principles that help deliver a return on the significant investment of time and money.

First, every detail and attribute of the destination – visual, audial, climatic, olfactory, ergonomic – must be considered as part and parcel to the educational experience. A comfortable and aesthetically pleasing physical space eliminates distractions and declutters the mind.

And second, nothing facilitates learning better than social interaction and the resultant human relationships. This is a principle that the most innovative educators are increasingly embracing; in practical terms, it means that attendees participate in activities, share personal stories and professional experiences that make for a whole new level of engagement in learning.

Noted psychologist Lev Vygotsky emphasizes the importance of community and conversation as central to learning. Theoretical physicist David Bohm introduced the concept of dialogue as a free-flowing conversation where participants suspend judgment and foster a special appreciation for each other’s uniqueness, which leads to deeper levels of understanding and creative problem solving.

To take it one step further, management consultant William Isaacs defines dialogue as a conversation in which people think together. Thinking together implies that you release certainty and acknowledge possibilities simply by interacting with others. When we think together without attachments we find ways to access connections and collaborations that might not otherwise have occurred.

Theory aside, as professionals and human beings, we simply need to enjoy life and learning, as well as enjoy the company of our fellow man. The stresses and strains of the industry make that joy harder and harder to come by. This is true even for those of us who have achieved the greatest success in our professions. It is perhaps most true for the CEO, president, partner, and principal.

To address that oft-neglected need among the C-suite executives, Zweig Group has designed exclusive events for the top leaders and aspiring leaders of AEC firms. The CEO Roundtable Retreat and The Principals Academy create a forum for reviewing and discussing the highest-level issues facing the leaders of today’s AEC firm. Two-and-a-half days of education, inspiration, and networking in signature locations across North America provide attendees a rich experience that brings learning and personal growth to life – and brings life to learning and professional growth.

Some of the particular features of the CEO Roundtable Retreat include:

  • Opportunities for attendees to participate in the creation of the agenda based on pre-event input. Yes, that means surveys!
  • Presentations of industry benchmarking data and analysis by Zweig Group consultants with the broadest perspective and longest tenure in the industry.
  • Special guest speakers selected to motivate and inspire through insights from other sectors and industries.
  • Ample opportunities to learn from peers/other CEOs in non-competing firms in both structured and unstructured formats.
  • All of which takes place in thoughtfully curated venues where the same attention to detail and to quality is reflected in all the amenities – the sights, sounds, soul, and taste of learning are all taken into account.

Of course, the greatest potential value of an experience like the CEO Roundtable and The Principals Academy lies in what happens spontaneously, when peers with common problems and shared opportunities talk with one another openly, candidly, and without threat or fear of competition and judgment.

You can be certain that Zweig Group will do everything possible in the planning and execution of these two events, or in any of our conferences and seminars, to maximize opportunities for those spontaneous happenings and the transformative growth that can come from the experience.

If you are interested in learning more about our future CEO Roundtable Retreats please send me an email. I encourage you to share with me what experiences and locations would motivate you to sign-up.

And we are still accepting registrations for The Principals Academy:

Melissa Swann is Zweig Group’s events manager. She can be reached at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.