Office boardroom with long conference table

You don’t need a mentor – You need a board of directors

Mentors are so last year. Why not build your own personal Board of Directors instead? That’s right, invest in you by surrounding yourself with a team of people that can help you reach your goals and function as your accountability partners.

Okay, I know your best friend has always been a great sounding board, but she probably is not always able to give you advice on everything you need.

You are the boss in the business that is you!  The best businesses capitalize on the expertise of many subject matter experts. So why wouldn’t you do the same? Perhaps it is time to formally build your own personal board? Start by first thinking about who your advisors are and the roles they might fill on your Board of Directors.

Talent Acquisition

Staffing your board is not really that hard to do once you think about what you lack or what you desire to achieve. Start by thinking about a few people that you admire and aspire to be. Remember that diversity of thought is important. Add a multiplicity of perspectives, as this will give way to more opportunities for you to learn and grow.

While individual boards may differ, generally you will want your board to be comprised of a few of the following:

  1. A Challenger – Someone who will push you out of your comfort zone.
  2. A Brand Manager/Connector – This is someone you want to emulate because they have created a great brand for themselves and is connected to a diverse group of people.
  3. Financial Savvy Advisor – If you struggle in this area this is the time to recruit someone with money sense! Sadly, many people never think to recruit someone like this into their lives, but it’s important because keeping your financial affairs on track can simplify your life many years down the road. Failure to do so can be an unnecessary nightmare.   Take the guess work out of this with someone who is financially knowledgeable on your team.
  4. Younger aspiring professional – You would be surprised how much you can learn from a younger you. Keep informed on how others perceive the world around you and stay in the know.
  5. Someone in your Industry – You need people that understand your pain points and your triumphs professionally.
  6. A Health/ Spirituality Advisor – You know why you need this person! Hours run into days and days into weeks. Are you taking care of you? Are you staying grounded in what really matters?  You can’t have a board without one or two of these folks.
  7. Your best buddy – I never said to eliminate this person. On the contrary, your best friend is a vital part of your board. Just lighten their load a little and save them for the late night calls, impromptu dinners or retail therapy outings.

Now that you have built your board, think about how you can shape your relationships with each member.

Onboard and Retain Your Team

Unlike a professional board, you might not need to all meet together, and your personal board members may not even know each other. Therefore, your next step is to let each person know how much you admire their success and that you wish to learn more from their experiences.

It’s also a good idea to let each member of the team know that you appreciate their time and input even if some have limited availability! If a board member helps you achieve success in an area, by all means let them know. Share how their insight helped you successfully execute of a plan of action. Keeping your board informed is like payment for all the ways they may have invested in the Business of You!

While you “employ” your board to benefit your goals, that doesn’t mean you can’t also return the favor. Pay it forward – don’t keep your expertise to yourself. Offer to be of assistance to members of your board. Be part of other personal boards. Reciprocity goes a long way!

Remember the little things like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays.  Maintain a flow of communication, and don’t just call when you need something.

Seeking advice from your board is a great way to grow intellectually and build your personal brand, but remember not to lose yourself in the process. Take advice, but by no means should you ignore your instincts either or discount your ability to make sound choices.

Deliberately expand your network, be continually curious and invest in your relationships so that they will continue to invest in you!

Michelle Bloom Lugo

Michelle Bloom-Lugo is the Director for Undergraduate Career Services for Warrington College of Business. Michelle is active in both community and professional associations and boards; she currently serves as the Vice President on the board of directors of Peaceful Paths, which provides services to survivors of domestic violence. She is also a member of The Society for Human Resource Manager (SHRM) and a member of the National Association of Women MBAs. Michelle brings more than two decades of experience in career counseling, executive search, and program management to her role at the Warrington College of Business. She leads a team of professionals obsessed with helping students connect with employers to leverage their strengths into great jobs lives. Prior to joining the University of Florida, Michelle’s career included corporate recruiting for finance, technology and human resources roles. She successfully executed searches for major Fortune 500 companies, including many investment banking firms headquartered in New York. Within the Business Career Services Team, she has coached MBA Executive and Professional students as well as Specialty Masters students. You can find even more in Michelle’s LinkedIn profile.