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Building Your Own Personal Board of Directors: The Approach

Welcome back to Lesson 6 of Building Your Own Personal Board of Directors on Listenable!

You are now prepared to start narrowing your list to one ideal candidate in each of the 4 roles. You should have the potential candidates already categorized so now I want you to rank the names in each of the 4 categories: #1, #2, #3 and so on depending on how many names you have. Your ideal preferred candidate would be #1 if they agree to serve on your board of directors. Remember, your ideal candidate may not have availability to serve right now so you need to quickly go to #2 and even #3 until you get a definitive YES response. Circle your #1 for each position. You should now have a top candidate in each category for a total of at least 4.

You may want to list your top candidates on a second sheet or if you are working electronically then just make sure to title each list clearly for easy review. The next step is to determine how you are going to contact each one of them based on your existing relationships. You may have to leverage a relationship with someone you know in order to reach this ideal candidate for your Board of Directors.

Write out clear talking points for your conversation with the candidate. Start by telling them why you admire them. Then introduce them to the concept of developing your own board of directors. Don’t assume they have ever considered this approach so you may need to educate them. If they have never been introduced to the concept, then you have already scored mega points! Now tell them why you have chosen them as a likely candidate for your personal BOD and what specific role they would fill on your board of directors. Make sure they agree with the role you have chosen for them. Tell them exactly what guidance you need from them and how you would like them to hold you accountable for specific annual objectives.

This person may be thrilled to be considered, but they are so busy and limited on time, they don’t have time to commit right now. If the ideal candidate doesn’t have time to commit, thank them and ask them if they could serve in an advisory position for specific questions to be answered by email or text on a limited basis. This is a way to still utilize their expertise without having a full commitment to serve on the board of directors. Many companies have advisors to their board of directors. This allows you to keep this person in your circle. If their time constraints do not allow them to serve in any capacity, then simply move to your #2 choices and so on until you get a firm YES. Getting a NO response is to be expected so don’t feel like you are being rejected. Remember, people get paid thousands of dollars to serve officially in these roles and you are getting it for FREE. Expect a few NOs. You are still honoring this person just by making the request. You will leave a positive impression on them! That positive impression has value in the future as you may need references for your ideal job. Once a candidate agrees to serve in the role, set an initial follow up meeting within the next 2 weeks to do a full review of your life goals and objectives. Determine if meeting monthly or quarterly works for their schedule and lock in a day/time/location. Ask them their preference for communication in between meetings (text, email or phone call). Make serving on your board of directors as convenient and simple as possible.

For your first official meeting, BE PREPARED! I can’t emphasize this enough. If you have ever watched or participated in a corporate board meeting or even a municipality meeting, it is organized with a set approved agenda. The individual board members have seen the agenda prior to arriving at the meeting. Your meeting doesn’t have to be as formal, but it should be as organized.

Create an initial list of questions for the first meeting and keep a running list so you are prepared for every meeting. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and successes, so you can gain insight. You may not always take their advice but having access to their first-hand knowledge is priceless when you are making critical decisions. You now have access to your own consulting firm essentially! And this is AMAZING!

I have prepared a sample agenda for your first meeting:

  • Acknowledge appreciation for their time and expertise;
  • Explain the concept of creating your Personal Board of Directors;
  • Relate to them that you want to move forward in your life, and their advice could help you;
  • Let them know specifically why you chose them;
  • Review your short-term and long-term life milestones; (be specific about what you want out of life so they know how to help. Don’t worry if your ideas for change are not cemented in stone, just be open about the fact that you are not happy with where you are, and you want to move into a better life);
  • Ask them “what is the number 1 reason you have been successful in the areas you are discussing with them”... finances, health, the way they present themself, career, skills, etc.;
  • Review any challenges you have identified that may trip you up on your journey that are specific to this one area. (examples might be a spending habit you are overcoming, a relationship challenge at work, lack of certain skill, etc);
  • Ask for their advice on your first goal. They don’t necessarily need to answer you at this meeting. They may need to think about it;
  • Ask them if they will commit to a set meeting with you monthly or quarterly based on their availability. You may start off monthly and then move to quarterly as you gain confidence. Confirm their preference on reaching out by text, phone or email in between actual meetings. Be grateful for whatever length of time they can give you for their free expertise and knowledge;
  • Finally, set up your next meeting date, time and location.

Thank you for listening to this course on Listenable! I know it will add value as you become the CEO of YOUR OWN LIFE!

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Written by

Lynda Lee Smith