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Do You Need a Board of Directors for Your Career?

by My Career

In this article we explore whether you need a Board of Directors for your career to help you make informed decisions about your next career move.

How do you make important decisions? Are they left on the back-burner and you get stuck in indecision? Or perhaps you make decisions on the run and deal with the consequences later.  When you wish to make important decisions about your career, it’s essential that you create the time and space (mentally) to ensure you’re seeking good advice and making informed decisions.  But how do you do this?

The Importance of Mentors

Photo Credit: Australian Financial Review

At a breakfast event I heard from Josephine Linden, an Australian who grew up in Sydney and has had an amazing career living and working in New York since 1977. Josephine is Founder and CEO of Linden Global Strategies, a wealth management advisory firm and multi-family office. She retired from Goldman Sachs as a partner and managing director in 2009, after being with the firm for over twenty-five years and was previously an Advisor to GSJBWere, Australia.  Josephine serves on private and non-profit boards. She is the Chairman of Lands’ End, Director of Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores Inc. and member of the Advance Global Advisory Council. She is the financial advisor for HRH, The Prince of Wales Foundation. She is a Trustee for the Collegiate School, and currently chairs the Financing Committee, sits on the Executive Committee and Investment Committee, and served as Treasurer. She was an Adjunct Professor at the Business School of Columbia University, where she taught a class in wealth management, and currently teaches and moderates ad hoc sessions. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.*

Needless to say, it was an absolute privilege to hear her speak and share her insights with the group about career, communication, co-operation, comradeship, culture and confidence. And it surprised me that, even though Josephine was live streamed from New York for the Melbourne and Sydney offices present, her strong sense of what it is to be human, made it feel like she could have been there with us, in the room. This is testament to her own communication style, how she warmly engaged the audience and the interplay of sharing her knowledge, insight and humour. She has a genuine and caring personality, was well prepared and had taken the time to thoughtfully consider her audience, encouraging open discussion and questions at the end of her presentation.

Appointing your own Personal Board of Directors

Josephine credits a big part of her success to having great mentors during her career and has made a point of mentoring dozens of professionals herself.  When asked about how one goes about selecting mentors, Josephine spoke about the idea of having your own personal Board of Directors. She suggested your needs, career and business will change over time, which means the mentors you need and choose will also change. I loved the idea of appointing a board of directors for my career and valued Josephine’s insight on how we can select this board.

Appointing a financial mentor is a logical first appointment, especially if you run your own business. Your next appointment should be based on your needs right now. If you are wise enough to realise you don’t have all the answers, then this will help you select mentors who do have some of these answers, based on their own experience.

The Importance of Good Judgement in Decision Making

Some of the advice or counsel I have taken since establishing Think Bespoke in 2010 have been from books I have read. For some of you reading this, you may have been similarly influenced by podcasts you listen to or influencers you follow in the areas you wish to develop your career.  The most significant book that has influenced me is Susan Cain’s, Quiet – The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Susan’s insights helped me embrace the value of saying no to a frantic schedule as I better understood introvert, ambivert and extrovert tendencies. It is related to how you are energised or drained. I increasingly draw my energy from time alone and identify strongly with the concept of an ambivert. Those with more extroverted tendencies will tend to draw their energy from spending time with others.

Having ambivert tendencies means I value 1:1 and small group discussions. I think deeply about the issues or challenges around me, and sometimes value being able to talk these through with trusted mentors. The most significant mentor for me in recent years gave me the invaluable advice to focus more deeply on my LinkedIn training. Other great advice from my inner circle has encouraged me to stop getting distracted by shiny objects (specifically, new technology) and to ruthlessly focus on delivering one key project at a time. This has helped me learn the important lesson that less is more.

Hearing Josephine speak about the importance of good judgement, safeguarding our reputation, always being good, taking the time to think things through and ensuring the decisions we do make have good values resonated very strongly with me. And it has encouraged me to take the role of mentors much more seriously and strategically, so that I continue to learn from others and seek guidance for the questions I need to answer in my business and career.


And if you’d like to know more about my journey with uncovering my ambivert tendencies, please read this article.

Karen Hollenbach, LinkedIn Expert Consultant, Educator & Mentor

Karen Hollenbach, LinkedIn Expert Consultant, Educator & Mentor

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