You have a big vision. You have dreams about your future and what is possible. Hopefully, you have a very clear, vivid picture of that future (It’s what I call: The Great Outcome).
As you pursue your visions and dreams, you can work extremely hard. You can hustle and persevere (all great qualities), but those things don’t always provide the best results. For many, even if you work extremely hard, you can still fail. Harsh.
But one strategy that will dramatically improve your odds is learning from those who have already been where you want to go. You want to summit a big mountain? All the equipment, maps, training, and effort in the world won’t compare to talking to someone who has just been to the top and knows the shortcuts, things to avoid, things to pack, biggest mistakes, and so on.
In business, you will likely have directors and advisors. Various boards or groups who are there (and often incentivized) to help your company achieve its vision… But a very powerful strategy for your career and LIFE is to form a PERSONAL BOARD of ADVISORS. Forming a personal board may be one of the smartest things you do this year.
You may be thinking, oh well the business has great advisors, and they know me, like me and can help me… Sure, maybe. But it is also very common that conflicts can occur. Maybe there is a decision (moving company HQ, hiring or firing people, etc.) that is great for the company but bad for you. The “business” advisor will need to wear a business-focused hat (and if they are “Directors” ie. Board of Directors) they will also have a fiduciary duty or obligation to do what is best for the company…
To avoid this and to have the best of both worlds, you need both.
Ok, then, who are these advisors, and what would they do?
Advisors should have three primary qualities:
1. They should be people who care about your success
2. They should be willing to commit time to meet/speak with you (formally and/or informally)
3. They should be people you admire (their ethics, their success, their network, their knowledge… ideally all of the above)
Personal advisors should commit to two kinds of interactions. One, plan to meet them on a regular schedule (say breakfast once a month) to discuss your career, your ideas, your visions, etc… Always prepare for the meeting, and ALWAYS take notes. Two, they should be available for quick impromptu calls and meetings (when you need quick advice, when you have a new career challenge, etc.)
Be honest with them. Tell them if you want to punch your boss or fire your partner. Tell them your thoughts, hopes, and dreams. They can only help if they really appreciate who YOU are and where you are mentally and emotionally.
I have several advisors. People I admire and trust. They are mentors and friends now. They give me sound advice, challenge me and certainly help my career. I often wonder why they do it (as it seems very one-sided), and more than once, I have heard that they feel like they get more out of it than me. They like the intellectual challenge. They like to feel valued and needed, and hopefully, they take some pride in helping me succeed.
Critical note: Depending on your targets (friends and family, warm intros vs. cold calls, etc.), you may have to be creative and persistent. Successful people are often very busy and/or focused. The key is to be VERY prepared to add value when you can. See my previous post, which is a face-punching, hard-hitting reality check on getting people to meet with you: Why Should I Meet You? Or Care?
If you want help taking full advantage of every opportunity, we are here…