Building a Personal Board of Directors

personal board of directors

Do you have a personal board of directors?

Just like a company often turns to a board for input on strategy, key priorities, and big decisions, we have an opportunity to create a board of directors in our own lives. This is a small, highly curated group of people who can provide us with expertise, input, advice, deep listening, support, guidance, and outside perspective.

Here is a list of people you might consider for your board.

A Financial Adviser

I started working with a financial advisor in 2008. My only regret is that I didn’t start working with her several years earlier, when I first started working in the corporate world. I have met with her regularly since 2008, and she has helped me not only make smart decisions with my money, but also hold the vision for the life I most want to create.

When I put in my notice at my job, she was the second phone call I made, after calling my family.

A good financial adviser will help you to uncover your priorities and make smart financial decisions accordingly.

I hear many people complain about the fees that financial advisors charge. My perspective is that I pay professionals for most important things in my life; I pay a dentist to clean my teeth, I pay technicians to service my car; I pay lawyers for their legal expertise, and I pay my financial adviser for her expertise and guidance. That said, for those who are uncomfortable with the traditional financial advising payment structure, there are also fee-only advisors who are paid only for their advice and do not earn commissions.

I also hear people say that they need to first prepare on their own or have more savings to be ready to talk to a financial advisor. I lovingly disagree. A good financial advisor can help with this preparation by recommending small, tangible actions to take now, in service of where you want to be in the future.

Not quite ready to talk to a financial advisor, but want to take a baby step? The So Money podcast is a great place to start.

A Coach and/or Therapist

Do you have someone in your life who is helping you work through the most important challenges, opportunities, and decisions before you? Someone who listens attentively, provides a neutral third party perspective, and who lovingly pushes you in toward your highest purpose in the world?

I believe that almost anyone can benefit greatly from working with a coach and/or therapist. One of my earliest coaches once said to me, “you can do things alone - but it will be much harder and take way longer.” I very much agree with this sentiment.

While there are some similarities and also a number of differences between coaching and therapy, here are a few:

What’s Similar:

  • Both a good coach and a good therapist will listen deeply and will be able to hear not only what you say - but also what you don’t say.

  • A good coach and a good therapist will ask you powerful questions that will lead to greater awareness, insight, and often personal transformation.

  • A good coach and a good therapist will hold you, the client, at the center of the process and will honor your goals throughout.

  • Many coaches and therapists have specializations - for example, types of people they specialize in working with, or topics of deep expertise. If either a potential coach or a potential therapist says they work with everyone/anyone, I would personally consider this to be a red flag.

What’s Different:

  • Generally speaking, coaching is more forward-focused (where do you want to go, and how can we work together to get there?) while therapy is oftentimes more past-focused (looking at patterns that have developed over time, family of origin, and events in our past).

  • Therapy may involve a diagnosis or referral from a medical provider. Coaching does not involve any sort of diagnosis or medical treatment plan.

  • Coaching is often a bit more active - with homework, reflection exercises, and/or concrete take-aways and things to try or implement between sessions.

  • Many coaches I know (I’m in this category as well) offer to share their notes with clients after sessions; this is not a practice I’ve seen in the world of therapy.

  • Many companies will cover coaching as part of professional development. Several of my clients use their professional development funds to cover all or part of their 1:1 coaching investment.

  • Some therapy is covered by some insurance providers. Coaching is not.

Of course, these are generalizations, and the specifics will depend on the individual coach or the individual therapist. The important thing is to do your research and find someone you connect with, that you respect, and that feels like a good fit. Referrals from trusted friends or colleagues can be incredibly helpful, because there are lots of coaches and lots of therapists out there - and not all of them are good.

A Mastermind-Type Group

This might be an official mastermind, or it might look like a group of colleagues getting together regularly for a cup of coffee or to discuss a book. The difference between a mastermind-type group and simply meeting up for coffee is that there’s often a specific goal, intention, or topic for the meeting beyond just “getting together” or “catching up.”

I’ve found that some of my favorite mastermind-type groups have a shared purpose and intention, but have some diversity in the backgrounds and perspectives of the members (versus masterminds that, for example, are made up of all people from within my own industry).

Friends and Family

Of course, these people get to play a role on our personal board of directors if we want them to! Our friends and family can provide support, encouragement, and input. While our friends and family members often play an incredibly important role in our board of directors, it can be helpful to remember that their perspective is often not necessarily neutral, since we know each other well!

This is why, in addition to these dear ones in our lives, it can be helpful to round out our board with some of the above individuals.

In Conclusion

A personal board of directors can be a powerful source of support, advice, encouragement, and expertise and can help us move toward our most important goals.

Do you have a personal board of directors in your life? If not, what’s one small step you could take to begin to create one?


How to Create a Functional Resume

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Back in the day, most of us were taught to create resumes in a very specific way: list out all of our accomplishments, education, and work history in reverse chronological order.

While this format works great for recent college grads and those with very linear and/or traditional work history, it is not the best format for everyone. For many people, a functional or combination resume might be better. With this format, the skills/qualities/traits are summarized first, with the specific experiences and roles listed toward the end of the resume.

Across my clients and colleagues, I find that a functional or combination resume often works best for those who:

  • Have varied and/or non-linear experience.

  • Spent a period of time working from the home.

  • Want to highlight skills and qualities versus specific roles.

If you’re thinking of a resume refresh and considering a functional or combination format, here are a few tips for getting started.

  • Think about the top 3-5 skills/qualities that you’d like to highlight. Write them down. Once you finalize your list, these will become your themes for your functional resume.

  • Then, for each, think about the experiences you’ve had that demonstrate these skills and qualities. When thinking about these experiences, focus on the specific impact you had - what positive change did you create? How did your specific skills and qualities help to move the needle?

  • After you’ve worked on the specifics above, write out a brief summary that captures who you are, what you’re looking for, and why you’re unique. This can be used as a header on your resume (and can also become part of your LinkedIn profile). Note: I strongly believe that we, as humans, are much more than a list of skills or a list of experiences. The header is a way to add a bit more humanity to our resumes; it can serve as an introduction and a way of saying - hello, this is who I am as a whole person, and below you can find more information about who I am as a professional.

  • Plan to include a chronological summary at the bottom of your resume, in which you list your work history, experience, and dates.

  • Solicit input from trusted colleagues/mentors. What would they identify as your top skills and qualities? Are their lists aligned with yours? Note: solicit feedback from only trusted colleagues and/or mentors who have actually worked with you, and/or trusted colleagues in the HR/recruiting/coaching/career transition space, in order to avoid getting unhelpful suggestions from the peanut gallery.

  • Consider enlisting a professional. Often, in an hour-long session with my clients, we can bust out a solid draft of a complete resume refresh, along with a set of next steps and action items for LinkedIn. Writing our own resume in isolation is one of the hardest things we can do, I find, and often bringing in a bit of outside help can be a game changer. Warning: there are many resume experts and companies out there who charge $8,000-$10,000 to re-do your resume, guaranteeing that this investment will lead to the resume being picked up in all of the keyword searches that you desire. Do not pay this much. Even for the highest level executive or CXO level roles, I have not found these services to demonstrate the amount of ROI that they promise for my clients and colleagues.

I hope that these tips are helpful as you work on your own functional resume. Need a bit of help, or want to book a power hour to bust out these updates together? Feel free to reach out.

Expanding Our Definition of Self-Care

self-care

The best definition of self-care I've heard goes something like "creating a life that you don't need to escape from."


So yes. Buy yourself flowers. Book a spa day if you can. Sink deeply into the bath tub (you'll find me there most nights during the winter) and light all of the candles. Eat the chocolate. Jump on the bandwagon for Treat Yourself Tuesday.


And also - be courageous enough to look at the things that you might be trying to escape from.

Get quiet.

Tune in.

Go for a walk in the woods, alone with your thoughts - free of podcasts and music and photo sessions for Instagram.

Bust out your journal (any old notebook will do) and a favorite pen.

Write down whatever comes up.

Hire a coach (I know some people).

Find a good therapist (it can be hard but they exist).

Have the tough conversation with your co-founder or mom or sister or friend.

Dare to take a good, hard look at the big stuff, the messy stuff, the things that it can feel easier to try to escape from.

This - doing the hard work, having the tough conversation, looking deep within, and being willing to face what we uncover - is perhaps the most loving and impactful act of self care that we can do.

What Part of This is Also True For Me?

“What part of this is also true for me?”

communication, truth, alignment

I appreciated this question, posed in a workshop that I recently attended.

Rather than jump to ‘do I agree or disagree?’ Or ‘is this right or wrong?,’ an invitation to ponder instead what part - even if a tiny one - in what’s being said, shared, or expressed, might also be true for me?

We can use this in work contexts, in relationships, in meetings, and in heated (or not so heated) conversations to step out of a place of judgment and into a place of curiosity and exploration. It fascinates me to imagine what might be possible if some of our current leaders tried this question on for size, as well.

 

A few questions you might experiment with include:

  • What part of this is also true for me?

  • Even if I disagree, what is the truth that I might be able to see in this?

  • What is the small part of this that resonantes for me?

  • How can I step out of my own perspective in order to really see and hear what’s being said?

  • If I step out of my own position, where are the areas where we’re actually aligned?

Tips for Making Tough Decisions

making tough decisions

Confession: I am not always good at making big decisions.

Many of the answers to the biggest questions I’ve ever asked myself have come to me intuitively, which meant that I really didn’t need to decide, because I just knew.

When I adopted my first pup, I wasn’t looking for a dog. In fact, I’d just said to a coworker the week before, “It’s amazing to me that single people get dogs, because I imagine that they really inhibit your freedom!” I was single. And precisely one week after saying this, I had a dog.

I had been picking up two friends’ dog from doggie daycare when I saw his face on a crumpled up flyer, taped to the front counter. As if the words had come to me from somewhere outside myself, I asked if I could meet him. When I met him, I knew on an intuitive level, long before I knew on a conscious level, that he was my dog. There was no decision - just a deep sense of knowing. When my friends arrived to pick up their dog, there were two dogs, instead of one. My friend just looked at me with a knowing smile.

The same thing happened the day I put in my notice at my job. While I was sitting inside of an office, there was a moment in which I swear I saw the clouds part and a big ray of light shine through, at which point I said, “my last day will be May 1st.” Once again, there was no decision -  just a deep sense of knowing, and the words came out of my mouth from what felt like a source greater than myself.

All of this clouds parting, light shining through, voices from above type of clarity is great, but it means that decisions can be incredibly challenging for me when this isn’t present. In the rhythm of normal work and life, it’s not always possible to wait around for this moment of instant clarity to strike. There are timelines and deadlines and normal life constraints that aren’t always conducive to waiting for an answer to appear.

In these situations, I often use a variety of tools and systems to explore the different possibilities at hand, to help lead me to the best decision based on the information I have at the time. Here are a few of my favorites.

Try on the different options.

Imagine yourself in the different scenarios at hand. For example, if you’re considering whether or not to leave your current job, you might imagine yourself staying in your current job, and leaving your current job. What does each option feel like? What do you see in each of these scenarios? What is happening, and how do you feel? And then, after exploring options A and B, push yourself to think about a third path. Is there another option C that could exist that you might not have thought of before? For example, pursuing your passion as a side hustle while staying in your current job? Or, exploring a role change within your current company? Try each of these on as well and notice what emerges. Pay extra attention to how you feel as you sit with each one.

Write to yourself.

Write out the question you’re currently considering, and write out whatever answers come to you, without filtering or judging the responses.

For example, you might write: “what do I really want?” and then allow yourself to write down whatever comes to you as an answer. Write down whatever comes up, without thinking about it or filtering it or wondering whether it’s real or not - just write it down.

Then, when you’re finished writing, you can go back and revisit what you wrote. What do you notice? What are you surprised to see on paper?

Often we know more than we think we do, if we get quiet and tune in.

Check In with your Future Self.

This is the version of us who is 5, 10, 20, or maybe even 30 years older. This process involves consulting our older self and asking about the questions that are are pondering today. What path did she pick? What advice might she give us knowing what she knows now? What decisions led her to where she is today?

Write out Three Different Life Plans.

Write out three possible paths for your life, in 5-10 year chunks.

  • Path 1: the path you’re on right now.

  • Path 2: a slightly modified version of the path you’re on right now.

  • Path 3: an entirely different option - or the “if anything were possible option.”

Check in with each of these three paths. Which one feels most alive? Which one feels most aligned with your values and goals? Which one gets you most excited?

And, what is one small step that you could take toward the path that speaks to you most?

Decide on a First Small Step.

Often big decisions feel overwhelming. If we are considering whether to leave our job, for example, a number of fears and saboteurs often kick in - What if we don’t find anything better? What about the benefits? What if we realize we made a mistake?

The first decision might not actually be to leave your job. It might simply be to update your resume. What if you start there and take some of the pressure off? Usually the first small step can be done without a lot of disruption and under the umbrella of security and safety of our current context, and is much easier than we think.

These are a few of my favorite strategies to use when instant, intuitive clarity isn’t present. Here are a few additional resources that may come in handy along the way, as well:

Good luck as you ponder the big decisions you may be facing right now. Want some help along the way? Please feel free to reach out to explore how we might work together throughout the process.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson