The Handcrafted All-Star Team, Your Personal Board of Directors

Photo by Austin Chan

Corporate Board of Directors: a group of people elected by shareholders to represent their interests. Not responsible for day-to-day decision making, the board provides high-level guidance for the ultimate success of the company.  Usually found at public & private companies, and nonprofits. (sources)

But why should a board of directors be limited to billion-dollar public companies or highly funded startups? What if we took the concept of a corporate board and applied it to our individual lives? What if everyone had their own Personal Board of Directors

Personal Board of Directors: a core team of trusted people an individual can turn to for assistance with career and personal growth. 

Everyone should have their own Personal Board of Directors — and it’s easier than you think to make it happen. There won’t be a formal induction ceremony, quarterly meetings, or compensation. Heck, the members don’t even have to know they’re on your board. But there is incredible value in crafting a team to assist in your development.

A Personal Board of Directors can help:

  • Give advice – In its purest form, they help you navigate difficult situations. People to call, text, or email when you’re stuck on something. They can also facilitate a retro meeting to help put rejections in perspective.
  • Keep you on track – It’s good to have someone hold you accountable for reaching (and setting) goals. 
  • Call you on your bullshit – Sometimes brutal honesty is needed to get back on track. 
  • Introduce you to others – Just like a corporate board, your Personal Board may have a strong network and can introduce you to the right people at the right time. 

My board of directors is comprised of a couple family members, an industry expert I met at an event, my prior manager, and multiple friends. They’ve most recently helped me refine a proposal for a potential client and bounce around ideas on future business trends.

How to create your own Personal Board of Directors

No need to look far because you have ideal candidates within your existing network. Contemplate each person’s strengths, skills, and background for a well-rounded team.

Some people to consider:

  • Prior coworkers
  • Family
  • Friends
  • People you’ve met at conferences and events
  • Your LinkedIn connections 
  • People you’ve recently asked for feedback

There’s flexibility in how to communicate with your Personal Board of Directors. One option is to simply not alert every member of your board that they’re actually on your board. Depending on your relationship, it can be challenging to discuss (and about half of my board is in this stealth mode).

However, there’s tremendous value in being more open. It benefits you because they can be on the lookout for different ways to assist — or knock you back on track. It helps them because you’re recognizing their advice, guidance, and experience. More importantly, it creates a level of trust because you’re expressing a desire for growth and including them on that journey.

If you think someone would appreciate the transparency, you can say something like, “Hey Julie, I really appreciate your guidance and consider you a member of my Personal Board of Directors”. That will spark a deeper discussion where you can explain the concept and why you cherish their collaboration. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your board. Start today. Your future self will thank you.


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