Dan's Top Three: October Breakfast Series on Boards

Nov 01, 2023

Dan's Top Three: October Breakfast Series on Boards

I tend to “hammer” on some of the tried and true practices out there for family business.  I’m sure it drives people crazy – especially my own family.  Advisory boards are certainly on that list – probably at the very top, just under open communication.

Session two of our sixth season of the Virtual Breakfast Series was all about boards. Why do I need one, how much is it going to cost me, what help can they really give me, etc., etc., etc.

Our panelists were Laura Neiman, CEO and Third-Gen Owner of Neiman Brothers Company and Dennis Kessler, a family business consultant and former Third-Gen CEO of his family’s company, FEL-PRO. Kessler is also one of the founders of the Private Directors Association – a group of over 3,000 qualified board candidates.   

Without further ado, here are my Top 3: 

  1. Independent board members aren’t there to tell you what to do.
    They are there to provide outside perspective and ask questions you might not be thinking of or willing to ask yourself. But they are NOT there to be your boss. The right board members don’t have the interest, time, or energy for that. 
  2. This group is critical to effective strategic and succession planning.
    These two areas alone are where a family business can quickly realize ROI from a great board. Independent Directors come in with a fresh set of eyes, a plethora of connections, energy, and a passion for helping someone else drive value for their business. They are also keenly aware of the dynamics of family business and serve as a well-informed mediator and accountability source. 
  3. Give your top management access to the board.
    Have them present to the board on strategic topics facing the company. Consider allowing them access to the board between meetings for further insights, referrals, and coaching. 

We covered a wide range of other issues when considering boards – from compensation to meeting logistics and 90 minutes of other great discussion. If you’d like to learn more about creating a board for your firm, I hope you will reach out to us. And if you can join us for a breakfast session down the road, we would love to have your family involved!