Face To Face Board Meetings
I was talking to the Gotham Gal today about board meetings. She was talking about a board call she had participated on and I asked "why didn't you do the meeting face to face?". She said, "you're right, we should".
In the past week, I've traveled to Ljubljana Slovenia and today to Boulder Colorado to attend board meetings. It's a lot of travel but I don't think you can do it any other way. If you are going to be on the board (as opposed to a board observer), I think you have to attend the meetings.
I don't have a perfect attendance record in my almost twenty years sitting on boards, but I've made the effort to be there in person and I estimate I'm at the board meeting 80-90% of the time.
This is one of the reasons VCs like to invest locally. It's a breeze for me to attend all my NYC boards in person. I wouldn't think of doing anything else. But getting on a plane, flying to the west coast and back to attend a three hour board meeting is always a big "ugh". Of course, you can build a whole trip around it and I do that. You can also do multiple investments in other cities and try to arrange all the board meetings for the same couple days. I do that too.
The benefits of being there in person are too many to list, but I'll name a few. Looking someone in the eye and seeing the body language will tell you so much more than a voice on a speakerphone. Being there and spending face time with the team, other than the CEO, is also hugely valuable. And building board chemistry can only be done face to face.
Last night we did a board dinner before the meeting today. We talked a little business, but it was mostly catching up on each other's lives and summers. You might think that is wasted time. But it is not. Boards are like every other group. You need the people to like each other, enjoy each other's company, and be able to work well together. Board dinners and board retreats are the best way to accomplish that.
So that's why face to face is a requirement for me when it comes to board meetings. There will always be the urgent call to approve a transaction or deal with a crisis situation. And those are almost always calls. But the regularly scheduled meetings should be in person.