We launched The Junto Institute nearly five years ago. And like most startups, we had a plan and a promise but no proof. Today, with three-four-plus years under our belt, 14 20 graduate companies, some impressive results, and our most mature cohort yet , we are far more aware of the program's nuances, its impact, and the experience Apprentices go through.
Here are the ten most important things companies should be aware of when they consider applying to our Apprenticeship program.
1. JUNTO IS FOCUSED ON THE LEADERSHIP TEAM, NOT JUST THE CEO.
Unlike most educational programs, a company enrolls in Junto and its entire leadership team can participate. Up to four people attend most of the sessions: two "Key Leaders" and two additional participants, who can be different people based on the program's parts (see #2 below).
2. THE PROGRAM IS MADE UP OF FOUR DISTINCT PARTS. AND IT’S ALL OR NOTHING.
Our program is tightly integrated with four parts that run concurrently over the nine months and complement one another:
Leadership Forum, in which the two Key Leaders participate.
Classes (12 total), where up to four people per company can attend in a "mix and match" way.
Tutoring Roundtables, where the leaders learn more about legal matters, marketing, finance, and HR, from subject matter experts and their peers.
Mentorship, in which each company gets six Mentors who are with them the duration of the nine-month program.
3. YOU WILL HAVE A POWERFUL NETWORK. INSTANTLY.
Our Mentors, Instructors, and Partners are loyal, dedicated, connected, and experienced. We have over 90% retention of Mentors, no small feat considering they agree to mentor for 2-4 hours each of the nine months. Some have invested in the Junto companies, others have been hired as C-level executives by the companies they mentored, and many have introduced Junto companies to new customers, employees, and strategic partners.
4. THE PROGRAM IS FOR GROWTH-STAGE COMPANIES.
Junto is designed to serve companies that already have 10-100 employees and $1 million to $10 million in revenues, and want to focus on people, leadership, and culture. Because of the tuition amount, it's not suitable for very early-stage companies that are focused on product, market, and funding.
5. EVERYONE ON THE LEADERSHIP TEAM MUST BE BOUGHT IN.
Our recruiting process includes at least one meeting with the entire leadership team, partly so we can learn that they all buy in to the idea of doing the program. If we sense, or hear, that there is mis-alignment or disagreement, we won't invite the team to participate.
6. IT’S A SERIOUS COMMITMENT OF TIME AND MONEY.
The program requires 10-20 hours per month for the two key leaders from each company. For other participants, it can be 2-8 hours per month. Tuition for the next program begins at $42,000 based on how many key leaders are involved and when a company enrolls. After a 10% deposit, the balance is payable over the program's nine months.
7. SHOWING UP IS THE MOST CRITICAL FACTOR FOR SUCCESS.
Woody Allen apparently said, "80% of success is showing up." It applies to Junto as well. The companies that have grown the most, developed the strongest cultures, set the highest standards for doing business, and in our opinion, have the highest likelihood of "success" are the ones that put in the most time through attendance.
8. IT DOESN’T STOP AFTER NINE MONTHS.
Although our Apprenticeship program ends, the learning, the interaction, and the growth doesn't. We have a membership-based Alumni program through which the companies remain connected with the powerful Junto community and have access to continued educational programs.
9. IT’S GOING TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE.
Junto is not for the faint-hearted; Apprentices learn their companies have more weak points and vulnerabilities than they thought. Because the Mentors and Instructors are people who have "been there and done that", they share relevant experiences, ask hard questions, and challenge the companies in order to make them better.
In addition, our Apprentices discover how little they actually know about business, make some of the hardest decisions they've ever made (including co-founder "divorces"), and go through a period of tension early in the program that we call "storming".
10. SALES WILL GO UP AND YOUR COMPANY WILL BECOME STRONGER.
After enrolling in the Apprenticeship program, the average Junto company has experienced 90% annual revenue growth. Some of the reasons our companies begin growing rapidly is because they make better decisions, have more clarity and focus, and are more aware of how to identify the "right" people for the business.
Furthermore, each company simply gets better and stronger. The following are outcomes that many of our alumni - if not all - realized from the program:
stronger company culture
better handle on finances
clearer strategy and direction
easier to have difficult conversations