A16z Podcast: Getting That First Board Seat

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Stacy Brown-Philpot: Previously leading operations at Google, COO at Task Rabbit and newest HP Board Member

  • What Boards are Looking for:
    • Seated executives
    • Often retiring execs, but trend it towards current execs who have real time info to bring
    • Diversity of gender/race and age who is in touch with the younger generation
  • Tips For Getting on a Board:
    • Figure out why you want to serve on a board and what kind
    • Continue to excel at what you do at your company
    • Define what it is you’re looking for in a board and what you bring to the table (Stacy took 6 months to do this)
    • It is not a job interview, they already know you’re good at what you do
    • It is a conversation, about getting to know the person to understand the relationship
    • Don’t be afraid about speaking your mind about how the company works (though recruiters say this is a risky)
    • Boards have checklists and they are looking for people that fit the skillsets they want, you either fit that or not
    • Managing time is a challenge and you need to be honest about how much time you can/cannot commit
    • Be patient
  • How to Find Board Opportunities:
    • Find execs on boards (and everyone else you know) who aren’t looking for more and tell them to refer you if they are approached
    • Work with board recruiter experts (things will get personal, expect that share your life story, not about what job you want next), use them for advice along the way and what to expect
  • What to Look for in a Board:
    • Preference to have an experienced CEO and other experienced board members, as you’re going to be a new board member
      • Look to learn from the CEO and how they work with the board and you can leverage that at your current company
    • Public vs. Private boards:
      • Public board have a whole level of governance/responsibilities that do not apply to privates (e.g. note taking is a key issue actually)
      • Public is governance/oversight, strategic guidance, shaping what is already happening
      • Private: create more momentum/strategy vs. some guidance, bringing in new skill-sets
  • What is a COO:
    • Manage teams such as marketing, business development, finance, etc.
    • Process: Ensure that future obstacles are cleared before they happen
      • Add/subtract process, people, resources
    • Thought leadership with CEO, business strategy and realizing the strategy, decisions on focus, expansions, etc.
  • What is Task Rabbit: Matching process for people to find people to help them do things
    • True operations, 30K Taskers
  • Operations learnings from Google:
    • Scale: Constantly think about what is being done today
    • Focus on a few things really well, then moving to the next thing
    • Much less resources at small company and be scrappy
    • Transition has been fun, a roller coaster, BUT
      • You’re roll requires you to be steady while your company is riding the rollercoaster for the really highs and lows
      • Exciting to define the new sharing economy industry
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