Podcast Episode 38: Building Your Essential Board of Directors

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Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Getting support, stretch, recognition and thought leadership is important to up-leveling your career. Listen in to learn: 

  • Why you need a personal board of directors
  • How to begin to build your BOD
  • What to do if you haven’t met the right people…yet. 

If you are someone who doesn’t get or ask for feedback it’s really helpful to build a BOD so that you are proactive, growing through challenges, and finding outside voices to challenge your thinking. A BOD is essential to supporting and stretching your brain.

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Read the Transcript
Hi Everyone, 

Welcome back to The Career Refresh podcast. I’m your host Jill Griffin. 

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. This relates to the law of averages, which is the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes.

One concept that is incredibly helpful is to take a personal inventory and create a personal “board of directors” or a BOD. 

If you are someone who doesn’t get or ask for feedback it’s really helpful to build a BOD so that you are proactive, growing through challenges, and finding outside voices to challenge your thinking. A BOD is essential to supporting and stretching your brain. 

This is not about asking your friends, spouse or partners for advice. This is great you have people to support and advise you.

A friend or three is lovely to have. But is your friend an objective professional whom you can trust to advise you on the most critical aspects of your life or business? Can they help you get a promotion? Maybe. 

Friends tend to see things through the prism of their own lives and are not trained to see your life as independent from theirs. 

Other times, our friends and partners can’t tell us the truth as much as they would like because they don’t want to risk losing or harming the friendship. 

A BOD member can be a mentor or advisor. A mentor or advisor is someone who shares their knowledge, skills and/or experience, to help you develop and grow.  

It can also be a peer with whom you share knowledge –a strategic sparring partner. 

But listen up. We too often want to find that one person, or mentor, who can take care of or professional growth.  We look for that All-in person in our boss, CEO, or an industry leader. Trying to find this in one person or expecting one person to do all these things in your life is unrealistic. 

If I try to make my boss or business partner be all these things, It simply will not work. It’s too much pressure, you may not get a wide POV, and people aren’t always available.  

A BOD is should be a wide array of people. Aim for 7-10 people to be in your orbit. This way you are getting valuable insight and at times feedback from a diversity of voices. 

This is not to outsource your thinking. It’s to challenge it. 

When I am seeing things the same way, I eventually figure out that I am in the thought loop. I speak to my coach, my mentor, or one of my industry peers to help me think differently. Other times I want to completely stop thinking about my challenge and go focus on something else. I have a list of smart and thought provoking questions that I ask others to get out of my head, and my way. Later I can come back to my challenge and I am usually refreshed. 

Consciously creating your BOD, getting clear on who you want on it, what you need to grow and the character traits you would like to be associated with —even if you don’t know the person yet–will enable you to get your professional needs met. 

There are 3 steps to creating a BOD:

Be strategic. This is not about friendship. That’s a benefit. But this is finding what you are missing. Do you need sales training. Access. Negotiation guidance. Networking, leading teams – what do you need?

Who do you want on your BOD? 

Mentors who specialize development, they can help you network and open doors.

A coach (guides you to build a growth mindset, aids in belief building, catches your sneaky sabotaging thoughts, and helps set goals and applies the accountability to achieve them. 

A sponsor (usually within the company who advocates and benefits from your advancement (usually because they have goals to grow and sponsor others in the company). 

An advisor – someone who has a specific expertise and can guide you and answer questions. Make a list. Include industry executes and peers.

Cadence and Curiosity.

Figure out how often you are going to reach out or meet. This may be discussed with the BOD or it may be your own plan. You get to decide. 

Curiosity. I use my 3-2-1 framework for asking questions. 3 questions, 2-way dialogue.

What 3 things would you like to impact the most this year?

What is something that surprised you about your role when you first started?

What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a role like yours?

What are some of the biggest challenges you face day to day? How did you build the resilience to overcome these challenges?

What was the hardest challenge you had to overcome in order to be successful?

Who should I meet or talk to next? 

Is there anything I can do for you? 

Sometimes, there are character traits on my BOD list I want but I don’t know anyone…yet….who can fill that void.  

So instead of spinning or stressing about what I don’t have, I decided that I am going to find the character trait. Getting clear on the character trait rather than the person will help fulfill the need. What you focus on becomes your result.  

By creating a list of past connections, creating a list of what you want in your connections, and who you currently have in your life, you will be able to create a list. 

You will see where in your life you can deepen your current connections, ask people for what you want and see if you have a match, and then find new connections for anything missing.

For example, I want to have the following in my life: 

– Intellectual banter 
– Meaningful challenges to my business goals and practices
– Visionary conversations about what is possible in business 
– Someone who enjoys dissecting commercials, advertising, film production. I love to talk about scenes, the director’s brilliant eye – or to talk about how else you could drive the point
– Strategy. I need to talk about strategy for all goals, business – everything.  
– Someone who can discuss the latest in digital, technology, and policy – I need to talk about the Pivot podcast with someone!
– Someone to challenge my mind
– Someone to encourage me when I struggle 
– Someone who is creative and currently creating
– Someone I can mentor and coach
– Someone who I can talk about mindset concepts and growth
– Someone who is interested in the latest ideas in health and wellness
– A friend who is a CEO of a large company 
– A fellow coach – luckily I have many dear friends and a community of engines around and behind me

By listing your wants you are taking care of your needs for thought leadership, feedback, connection and growth while setting yourself up for success. 

Lastly, some people know they are on my BOD, others don’t. My favorite boss, Olivier Gers, has no ideas he’s on my BOD, unless he’s listening – hi Olivier!

A BOD is about you and your needs. Go create what you want and need. You got this. 

Ok, my friends, let me know your thoughts on building your BOD. What’s been most successful for you? What’s most surprising? 

Before I go, Knowing your strengths, values, and skills is the fastest way to up-level your career and differentiate yourself. My Amplify Your Strengths group coaching program is the fast path to future-proofing your career.

Be the first to know. Program starts soon. I’ll put the details in the show notes.