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Building Your Own Personal Board of Directors: Access to Expertise

Welcome back to Lesson 3 of Building Your Own Personal Board of Directors on Listenable!

I am looking forward to continuing our discussion. Hopefully, you found some time to start making your initial list of at least 10-15. And maybe even more! If you have not made your list yet, please allocate some time to it because you are going to need the list as we move through the next lessons.

I hope by now you are starting to view yourself as the CEO of your own life.

You are ultimately the only person responsible for the decisions you make, the friends you choose, the way you spend your money, the way you spend your time, the jobs you choose, whether or not you save any money, whether you are committed to being all that you can be, and so on. You get the point. Your life is a culmination of each decision you make every day. At the end of your life, you will look back in retrospect and see great outcomes from decisions you made along the way and a fair share of those with negative outcomes as well. You will know the people who helped you along your journey and those who may have tried to hinder your journey. This is how we grow stronger and wiser in life. Being the CEO of your own life means you accept responsibility for how you act and react to all those events and people in your life journey.

There are countless success stories of people who have changed their lives and their financial futures. And there are millions who have not. Some because they think they don’t know how, and others just get comfortable with the status quo – they are afraid to venture beyond what they know. It takes courage, determination, and perseverance to take control of your destiny and set the course for the life you want to build. You have that opportunity right now!

You probably know a lady named Oprah Winfrey who was born into a poor family in Mississippi and became one of the wealthiest women in the world. Starbucks founder Howard Schultz grew up in a housing complex for low income families. Fashion designer Ralph Lauryn, dropped out of college, went into the Army and then worked as a clerk in a men’s clothing store. He came up with the simple idea for wider ties and started a company named Polo.

I am not saying you are going to become a billionaire. I am saying that none of these people would be where they are today if they had just accepted the status quo and kept making the same decisions everyone around them was making. They changed their daily decisions and by changing those decisions they changed their lives.

None of these people made it solely on their own. They saw their lives as their company and sought out help and advice from others. Each of these people had mentors and advisors. Since we determined in the earlier lessons that NO successful company can be run with just one person, how do you build out your own executive team to help you determine what you need to do in order to get on the right path to grow and maximize your life?

When my husband was finishing college and during the first couple of years of his career, had his own mini version of a personal Board of Directors. It was only a small group of 3 mentors that were friends of his family. I want to use this analogy to draw a clear distinction in having a strategic purpose for your personal board of directors versus just having a few people offering general opinions. How could my husband have benefitted him more if he had taken a more strategic approach, had a clearly stated mission and purpose for each of his small group?

He assembled a small group of fairly seasoned mentors with a goal to tap into their years of knowledge which was a great approach. He didn’t want to wake up one day and be 45 years old with only 45 years of his own knowledge. His goal was to move at a faster pace. All 3 people agreed to advise him as he was making some of the most important decisions of his life. Given the 3 individuals were his parents’ friends, he already knew them well. He chose them because from his perspective at the time, they were successful in business. He generally would ask them questions about work choices, financial questions, and other general life advice.

The difference in the strategic approach I am outlining for you to take for your life versus the approach my husband took is simply this: he didn’t have a clearly defined mission or job description for his 3 mentors. He simply asked for some general guidance from people who had more life experience. He posed questions about things that were happening at the time, but he was not thinking ahead to years down the road. The advice he was getting was higher quality than what he was likely to receive from his friends who were his own age, because these 3 people were older with more experience overall. But without defining the role he wanted them to serve, or have a general life strategy, purpose, or mission for his life, he wasn’t able to prepare strategic questions for them when they met. He just talked about what was happening in his life. Even those conversations generated a few nuggets of advice then he thought it was successful. Those nuggets probably had value at the moment, but imagine if he had been prepared for those meetings with specific questions in their area of expertise.

He didn’t choose the three individuals based on their specific area of success, like a financial person to guide on finances, a marketing person to help him market himself, or someone tasked with holding him accountable to a bigger life strategy. He selected it simply because he knew them already and it was convenient to see them. There was little planning beyond that. And while the choices he ended up making at that time were better than they would have been if I didn’t have anyone advising me, as he has looked back on it over the years, he could have achieved greater impact in his life if he had taken the strategic approach.

I want to make sure you don’t waste the time of the people you are asking to serve on your Board, or your own time either. As I work with people individually, I am focused on their success, and how their decisions today will affect them years from now. This is the advantage a BOD can provide you. They can help you structure your life for more success. Many of the most successful people on the planet today still utilize coaches and mentors. They pay thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars to these people to help them stay focused on their end game. I want you to get great advice, but without costing you a dime. I always tell my clients “Time can be your best friend or worst enemy”. Make the most of every day. Because days turn into weeks and then months and ultimately years. At some point, you wake up and suddenly realize you haven’t progressed beyond the point you were at 20 years ago BUT now those 20 years are gone. If you truly want to achieve success in all of the areas of your life that are important to you, identify successful people who have done it and learn as much from them as you can. Building a personal board of directors is a strategy for success that will move you years ahead of where you will get if you only rely on yourself.

At this point in the course, the obvious question is, if you are the CEO, who else do you need on your team to be successful? The greatest CEOs know what they know but they also acknowledge what they don’t know. Then they surround themselves with experts who can fill the gaps to make the leadership team as well-rounded in expertise as possible. Take a fresh look at the list you started and see if you can continue to think of other key individuals you could use on your team.

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