Apr 18 2019

Reflections on Board Members By Some Great Ones

I spent the past few days in Tokyo at the Kauffman Fellows Annual Summit. Over the past five years, there has been a large increase globally in the number of venture capitalists and people interested in becoming VCs. As a result, an organization like Kauffman Fellows is more important than ever as it helps build an incredible community of the next generation of VCs to learn from each other.

In the mid-1990s, I learned how to be a board member by sitting on a lot of boards, learning from other experienced board members, and making a lot of mistakes. I still make a lot of mistakes (that’s that nature of venture capital, and of life in general), but I like to believe that I’m a much more effective board member than I was 25 years ago. That said, I still have my bad days and walk out of a board meeting feeling unsettled for one reason or another.

Recently, Mark Suster, Fred Wilson, and Seth Levine each wrote excellent posts on how to be a good board member. Each post is worth reading from beginning to end carefully.

Mark Suster: How to Be a Good Board Member

Fred Wilson: How To Be A Good Board Member

Seth Levine wrote a five post series: Designing the Ideal Board Meeting

I especially love Fred’s punch line, which I strongly agree with.

Which leads me to my rule for being a good board member.

It comes down to one word.

Care.

If you care, really care, deeply care, like the way a parent cares for a child, you will be a good board member.”

If you are a board member (or interact with a board as part of a leadership team) and want to go even deeper on this, I encourage you to grab a copy of my book Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors

And, if you are having a board meeting that I’m a part of, take a look at my post from 2014 if you want hints about My Ideal Board Meeting.