Some of my most valuable business advice comes from my personal Board of Directors. These are a few successful colleagues whom I admire and trust. They are not formal advisers, members of my fiduciary board or members of a peer advisory group. Nor are they family. But some I do consider friends.
As a business owner myself, these were the profiles I sought out to build my PBOD:
Someone who built a successful business in my profession
A smart, ambitious person in another generation. For me that meant a Gen X'er or a millennial
Someone in my industry who is a cheerleader but willing to be brutally honest as well
I achieved two out of the three (I'll let you guess which one has been the hardest to find).
These people are not mentors. They don't necessarily open up doors or give career advice. They share their perspectives, opinions and experiences, unfiltered. They say "This is how I handled that..." but never "You should..." They give me food for thought. I learn from their mistakes and their successes.
We get together infrequently over a cup of coffee or a drink - usually in my home, a relaxed atmosphere. By the fire or on the deck. After a friendly brief visit (very cognizant of their busy lives), I am prepared with an issue I am struggling with. If they don't have the experience or answers, frequently they will suggest where I can go for help, or refer me to one of their colleagues. Through this process I have met some incredibly diverse, smart, compassionate people with a wide range of perspectives that have illuminated my path forward. I am forever grateful to them all for sharing their wisdom.
BTW, I try to do the same for them.