The 5 People You Need On Your Advisory Board

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Call it what you will—mastermind group, advisory board, brain trust, group of drinking buddies that help you solve your problems—we can all benefit from a trusted group of friends and colleagues to bounce ideas off, gain new perspectives, and grow our businesses. Many of my professional speaker buddies belong to two, three, or even more different mastermind groups. Each group or team serves a different function; a friend of mine belongs to a group that just focuses on helping each other write comedy material, and another one that helps him grow his business. Some of these teams meet regularly, some only meet occasionally as needed. Others exist only in my buddies’ heads (some of my friends are deeply troubled).

But no matter how many teams you belong to, or what you call them, there are five people you need to have represented in each group:

  1. A smart person who disagrees with you. This is the person who will challenge your thinking. It’s the Watson to your Sherlock Holmes, the Spock to your Captain Kirk. This person will force you to either defend your own ideas against an opposing viewpoint, or modify (maybe even discard) your ideas when presented with better ones.
  2. A butt-kicker. This is the “let’s get going!” person. Nobody (well…few people) likes getting their butt kicked—but we all need it every now and then. The universe doesn’t care about your ideas, or your careful deliberation. The universe rewards action, and this is your action person.
  3. A veteran. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, you need somebody who’s been there before. Somebody who can tell you that the wheel you’re working so hard on has already been invented. This is your Obi-Wan Kenobi: the person who can say, “You know, Luke, there’s this thing called the Force…”
  4. A “guy who knows a guy.” In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell calls them “connectors.” This is the person who “knows everybody,” the person who can pick up the phone and call just the right person. When you say, “Here’s what I’m trying to achieve,” this is the person who says, “I’ve got the guy you need to talk to.”
  5. The wacky neighbor. This is Ed Norton from The Honeymooners; it’s Kramer from Seinfeld. He or she is the unconventional thinker, the person who throws out ideas that nobody else would think of. Sure, nine out of ten might be garbage—but that tenth one—that’s the one that’ll make you a million dollars! By the way, there’s a good chance that this person will come from outside your industry.

Success is almost never a solo performance. It’s a team effort, and if you truly want to produce breakthrough results, you need to assemble the best teams possible. Start with these five, and you’re well on your way!

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About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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