“The Coca-Cola Company has a board and they’re just selling sugar water. Shouldn’t we all have advisory boards?”
I’ll never forget one of my mentors asking me this question. It was a pivotal moment. After that meeting, I began to develop a personal advisory board. It has been by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I got started by carefully considering who I wanted to be in my personal advisory board.
When choosing your board, think leaders not counselors. I believe in counseling. In fact, I meet with a counselor regularly. But, this is not a counseling session. This is a board meeting to help you take new ground in your life.
When choosing who I wanted on my board, I first asked myself: What challenges do you need the most help with and who do you know that has already faced similar challenges? Once I had someone in mind, I asked myself a second question: Would I want to grow up and be like them?
Tip: Don’t let area code stop you. I’m actually a part of someone else’s personal advisory board in another country. There are four of us who meet on a call, and we’ve never been in the room together at the same time.
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Once I had my personal advisory board in place, I began to regularly meet with my personal advisory board. I take these meetings very seriously. My mindset is to treat them the way that Mukhtar Kent, the CEO of Coke, treats his board meetings.
Over my time of both having a personal advisory board as well as being on someone else’s, here are five best-practices to leverage your board:
1. Limit the board to no more than five people. Sure, Coke has more board members but I think too many people around the table doesn’t provide as much helpful dialogue, particularly in a setting like a personal advisory board.
2. Meet once every two months for 60-90 minutes. Meeting regularly will create momentum and build upon previous meetings. Without this, it will feel very choppy and not as helpful.
3. Each meeting should have a clear agenda and goal. Send out an agenda ahead of time letting your board know what you want to discuss.
4. Select a board chairperson. The board chairperson is the one that actually leads the meeting, not you. You are the CEO, but you report to the board. Typically, I set the agenda half of the time and my board chairman sets the agenda the other half. This creates even greater buy-in with your board and shows them you are taking this seriously.
Related Reading: 3 Ways to Find a Mentor
5. In the days and weeks between the meetings, let your board members know how you are doing and what challenges you are currently facing. This will help prepare them for the next meeting.
Having a personal advisory board has been one of the best decisions I've ever made for my life and career. If you're feeling stuck, consider starting one and watching how it helps you grow.