By Susan Hatten
I began traveling for business when I was 21, and on my first legitimate work trip involving air travel, my boss at the time suggested that I pick up the habit of reading a new book with each business trip.
I took heed and waltzed to the nearest book station in the Denver airport. Upon scanning the titles, I gravitated to “Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos,” a book by Lynette Lewis. After all, this was my first corporate trip and I was wearing spotless black patent leather pumps. It was meant to be.
Little did I know that this book would be the driving force for professional and personal guidance that I still use today. One of the chapters in the book is dedicated to the development of your own “Personal Board of Directors.” I read this chapter once, then twice. I highlighted focus areas for my “board,” and made notes in the margins whom I would want to “hire” – if ever I had the opportunity.
The idea is fairly simple. In a broad sense, you assemble a team of life experts who can serve as resources and sounding boards as you encounter life changes or various circumstances. Attorney, check. Physician, check. Financier, check. Politician, check. Wine expert, check-check. And the list includes several others.
Fast-forward 11 years. I now have formulated a personal board with representatives spanning these various industries, offering a diverse range in age and years of service. Gender representation is also balanced.
I ran across an article by Inc. magazine covering the spring Women2.0 (W2.0) Conference. While on business in San Francisco, I had the good fortune to meet several of the women behind W2.0 and was delighted to see that the idea of a personal board was catching on. Read the article here.
I do share with most of the individuals on my personal board of directors that they are “hired” to the board, and they are overwhelmingly flattered. They are my A-Team, yet work on a very minimal commission (meaning…nothing). However, I hope that I can serve in the same capacity for others.
While social media and other technology-based tools offer a nice immediate-response mechanism for questions regarding career, health, finances or relationships, I have found that my board has been the most reliable and sound source for advice. They don’t always tell me what I want to hear, either. They are honest and credible and offer constructive guidance to help me evaluate my situation.
As I start a new career within the insurance industry, I know that I will be adding several new members to my board. They will play a very important role in shaping my professional life, and I am eager to learn from them.