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A Summary of

The Secret to Making Board Meetings Suck Less

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First Round Review
First Round Review
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Board meetings suck

  • Too long (4 hours+)
  • Too financial
  • Too big: non-members tag along
  • Stakes are too high for honesty
    • “Board meetings are the height of insecurity for a CEO. Basically, it’s a group of people who can both judge you and fire you”

A new attitude from Jeff Bonforte: the board works for you

  • “I’m not the CEO they thought I’d be. No CEO ever is. They may always believe the company should be better… But it doesn’t matter. We’re in it together and we can do great things, so let’s do it.”
  • “Your success as a CEO is contingent on your board doing their best to help you — so put them to work.”

Making the board work

  1. Narrow the focus
    • Cover changes in market, market standing, and team composition
    • Did we do what we said we would?
    • Nothing else, no product features
  2. Keep the board small
    • If it gets too big, break into small committees
    • Observers aren’t allowed: “If you couldn’t care less what these other people think, then only allow the people who need to be there.”
  3. Give board members action items
    • “If you’re not making unreasonable requests… they’re supposed to help out.”
    • Board members like coming away with assignments.
    • “Boards… can be extremely resourceful in business development and recruitment.”
      • Funding: “don’t meet with anyone if the board isn't making the introduction.”
      • Recruitment: “prospective hires are very influenced by having a VC they’ve read about in the news call them up”
  4. Three-hour time limit
    • 90 minutes of content, 45 of which should be asking for the board’s help
  5. Don’t stand
    • “VCs are used to being presented to so they can judge. You might feel like standing puts you in control, but it’s just the opposite.”

The most important tool: Board Packs

  • Five-page review of “where the company had gone over the last quarter… big concerns… big goals.”
  • “I don’t talk about the data, it’s all right there in front of them. I just start in [on action items and discussion]”

Employees and the Board

  • If board meetings are straightforward and well documented, it keeps employees in the loop and out of the meeting
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