Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Forming a Personal Board of Directors

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By Beth Throne, J.D. '95, Associate Vice President for Student & Post-Graduate Development

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The role of a board of directors in the smooth operation of an organization cannot be overstated.  Populated well and led effectively, a board will steer organizations through financial crises, leadership transitions and customer relations campaigns.  Ultimately, competent directors directly impact the success of the organizations they advise.
The value of a professional advisory group has not been lost on business leaders throughout history.  Industry giants such as Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, each relied upon the advice and counsel of their own personal boards of directors to shape their business ventures.  In the 1938 classic, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill, who interviewed Carnegie, Edison, Ford and several hundred other successful leaders, edified this concept of a personal advisory board or “mastermind group,” explaining that such groups operate as a cooperative alliance of like-minded, achievement-oriented individuals who advise, counsel and support each other’s professional success.  Even today, business innovators like Facebook Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, rely upon the mentorship of a personal advisory board or “brain trust” for guidance and support.  
You need not wait to be an industry giant to form and benefit from a personal board of directors.  Having such a group to mentor, challenge and support you can expedite and amplify your professional success.  To get started:
  1. Contact five to seven people who you respect, whose values align with yours, who are unafraid of challenging your decisions and ideas, and who will agree to be accessible to you weekly, monthly or on any other regular basis you decided is needed.  
  2. Schedule regular meetings with your board, either individually or collectively.
  3. Finally, make sure to be transparent with your advisors about your vision, challenges and need for guidance.  Only if you render yourself accountable in this regard will you reap the full benefits of board mentorship.
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