Board Leadership

I’ve been sitting on private company boards since the early 90s. I have also sat on a few public company boards and a bunch of non-profit and civic boards. You could say that I am a professional board member.

Like all organizations, boards need leadership. It can come from a CEO, but often it comes from a Chairman or a board member who steps up and provides leadership without being named or titled as such.

The board is tasked with governance. The Board doesn’t run things, but it governs who runs things and how things are run. I’ve heard it said many times that a board does only one thing – hire and fire the CEO. While that is somewhat true, it simplifies the role of the board and trivializes it.

A board’s job is to make sure things are going in the right direction and when they are not to step in and make changes in an attempt to get things back on track. While that can and does include leadership changes, it also involves acting as a sounding board for management’s plans and a being a body that management is accountable to.

A good board can provide immense value to a CEO and his/her company.

If you are not getting what you want out of your board, or worse if your board is causing trouble for you and your company, consider addressing the board leadership question. There is nothing worse than a collection of strong minded people who don’t agree with each other all telling you what to do and pulling you in multiple and opposing directions. If that feels like what is going on with your board, you need to find someone on the board to step up and lead the group. It can be the CEO, but if you are the CEO and you aren’t getting what you want out of the board, it is very possible that you need someone else to provide board leadership. The easiest and best way to accomplish this is to find the strongest and most natural leader on the board, take them aside, tell them what you need from your board and what you aren’t getting, and ask them to step into the Chairman role and assist you in organizing, managing, and leading the board. You can do all of this without playing the Chairman card, but it makes it easier to name the role and put someone into it.

The leader of the Board should help you set the agenda of the board meetings. They should help you decide what is important to talk about at the meetings and what is not. They should help you get through the meeting on time and cover everything that needs to be covered. They should make sure the most important topics get the most air time. And they should make sure that everyone who wants to say things get to say them without taking over the meeting and wasting everyone’s time.

The leader of the Board should chair the executive session at the end of the meeting that happens without you. They should solicit feedback from the entire board and then they should share that with you so that you can process it and get value out of it.

The leader of the Board should also help you manage the most challenging and difficult Board members. They should advise you on how and when to communicate with them and what to emphasize and what to ask of them.

Most importantly, the leader of the Board should become your partner in managing your investors, your Board, and your company. They should be someone who can put their interests aside and act with the best interests of the company and management at heart.

If and when you find this person, they will be incredibly important and valuable to you. I’ve seen many people play this role masterfully over the years and I play it from time to time myself. It’s a very time consuming but rewarding job.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    University and its Student Council and Academic Board were my first exposure to the processes involved in boards (votes quora, agenda items, minutes of meeting etc.). I’d been Chair at debate events at college but discovered that boards were a bit different from that!Later, at UBS when I was appointed board observer to 20+ of our tech investments, I learned about a whole other world of processes, personalities, politics and pragmatism.Right now, what I find really interesting is that the media rarely discuss the boards of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon etc.Yet they constantly comment about the board of Twitter and how the incoming CEO has to deal with 3 former CEOs on the board.

    1. Guillaume Lerouge

      I don’t quite agree about the media not discussing the boards of larger companies. For instance, a random search on HP returns this article excruciating their board: http://www.itbusinessedge.c

      1. Twain Twain

        The interesting part of that article is: So out of 12 board members, including the CEO/executive chairman, only one has experience in a business that is core to HP and that business wasn’t hardware or printers, it was services. In fact, if you were to define HP by its board, you’d think the company was big in software, materials manufacturing, and finance, with some interest in services.Compare this with Twitter where there is no lack of product knowledge precisely because there are 3 former CEOs there as well as a media expert (Dame Majorie Scardino, former CEO of Pearson).

        1. Guillaume Lerouge

          Having to compose with former CEOs on your board is a challenge of its own :-)Ben Thompson discussed it when Satya Nadella took over at Microsoft:

  2. Marissa_NYx

    Very useful summary.I’ve been at both ends of the table – board member and CEO. Seen some great partnerships and also at times, ugly stuff.There’s a time and a place to have a Board, in the early days you may well be better with Advisors not a Board. If the Board outnumber the team, there’s a problem. If the Board doesn”t communicate an understanding of the lifecycle and nuances of the market, the business model or what product/market fit is about then beware. One telltale sign is when a Board says – “where’s the business plan.” That’s code word for “this group of people don’t understand the business”. Cultural fit is key. Ultimately a good board works like a team – the members don’t always need to agree but it helps to have an understanding of how it makes decisions. Some of the most effective and ironically, also most destructive boards are those who work to the beat of the CEO. When alignment happens, boards effectively serve the mission of the company and the manner which the CEO carries out that mission.

  3. pointsnfigures

    Yuppp. Communication is key-and running your meetings on schedule.

  4. Twain Twain

    What’s the best way to identify who is strongest and most natural leader?Is this the person who’s most articulate? Most popular amongst the board member? Most execution focussed? Best grasp of the numbers?Thanks.

    1. Guy Gamzu

      I’d say it has to be first and foremost a people’s person

      1. Twain Twain

        THIS.That’s why Sir Richard Branson is so amazing.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      The one for whom people consistently stop what they are doing and listen to attentively.

    3. Kyle Van Pelt

      Agree with what @donnawhite:disqus said. The most simple definition I have ever heard re: leadership is; “Leadership is influence”.In it’s most basic form, a leader has people who follow them and look to them for guidance particularly in difficult situations.We all can make the easy decisions in life but most of us are quick to look to leaders when difficult decisions have to be made.This is important because I think boards of directors have to make more difficult decisions per meeting than almost any other aspect of life.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Hey Kyle — I didn’t realize you were working with Aaron until I began noticing frequent Swarm check-ins in the Atlanta Riskalyze office. How exciting!

        1. Kyle Van Pelt

          Very exciting! Thanks for noticing 🙂 I told Aaron that this blog is the reason I know about Riskalyze! In fact, in a very basic way the reason I now have this job is because of AVC. So…thanks everyone and thanks @fredwilson

    4. JamesHRH

      The one who is only about the work.

      1. Twain Twain

        Just for fun (and not because I disagree with you), Commander Data is an example of someone “only about the work”.The reason being he’s a robot and therefore devoid of EQ!

        1. JamesHRH

          Hmmmmm – not sure on that one.I have posted several times that I use the Enneagram for personality typing. The natural leader in that system is the 8 – they thrive on doing the principled / right thing and being recognized for doing it.There isn’t a good Trekkie 8….

          1. Erin

            Hey James HRH, a fellow Enneagramer here. How did you learn about it? Although I don’t know if 8’a are necessarily out to do the right thing. Often, but not always (#Cosby).

          2. JamesHRH

            Have no idea what # Cos is.The Enneagram can’t predict morality or narcissism of course, only how it will manifest itself.Controlling things is very 8; having sex with unconscious women is not.

          3. Erin

            Nobody would’ve thought that roughing up women was a “3 thing”, but it turned out Jian Gomeshi liked it. I think any type can have any kind of preference.

          4. JamesHRH

            Again, have not put any thought into Jian’s # – although I would go for 4 over 3.Your connection port to life – that is how I see the Enneagram – does not have any connection to your maturity or morality.In startup land, what is interesting is the prevalence of 5’s, 8’s & 7’s in founding groups ( there are some 3’s like Michael Dell).I use it for team integrity. Just as a point of confirmation.

          5. Erin

            Do you see 6’s? I’d want a six on my team for planning. And do you see a lot of 4s designers?I guess Jian could be a 4w3…IMO He’s a 3w4. He had a very smooth and polished exterior, and was apparently rude to staff behind closed doors- I think if he was a 4, his staff would complain of incompetence rather than rudeness. I dont think 4s could pull off that much polish. When a 4 cares about polish, they’re more 1 about it (from what I know). That’s just my two cents.

          6. JamesHRH

            We are speculating wildly, like rookie day traders….however, the polish was not very thick. Lots of men saw the emotional manipulation early on. His radio set & his ‘richness’ of emotional experience arrogance say 4 to me.Did not answer your question – learned of the Getting Your Boss’s # precursor book in a sidebar to an article in one of the first editions of Fast Company magazine.Read it. Agreed with it. Used it. It worked.

          7. Erin

            I just looked it up. Michael Goldberg wrote it, and taught it to the CIA. I always wondered who introduced it to the CIA. Good title for a book.Like they say, speculating is the best and worst thing you can do. Nobody likes being put in a box, but you don’t widen your perception and appreciation for the diversity within types unless you do it.

          8. Twain Twain

            Ok, just did an Enneagram for the first time and here’s the result: Achiever.MBTI result from 10 years ago: borderline ENTP (Inventor) / ENTJ (Field Marshall).Belbin result from 10 years ago: Plant.Commander Data would be a Enneagram 1?The Reformer — The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic.

          9. JamesHRH

            This is a qualitative tool, IMHO – online tests not very helpful.The best way is to gather some friends for cocktails with a book like Get Your Boss’ Number. Then take guesses at what every one might be. Your crowd of friends will separate your imagined you and the real you very quickly (and it will be fun, if you are open to it.)Otherwise, think of yourself under stress, which # are you? That’s the easiest path to your natural state #.

          10. Twain Twain

            A-ha, contextual perceptions is everything.This is why corporate 360 reviews involve self-assessment, team assessment and client assessment. They promoted me into CEO-Chairman’s Office after one of those reviews; I scored in the top band.To be clear, there are all sorts of issues with personality tests to do with Linear Algebra, probability distributions and our fluid perceptions over time which no static, discrete point in time test can measure.Take for example question 11 on that online test.Now, BOTH options are true. Others have depended on my insight and knowledge AND my strength and decisiveness. They are not mutually exclusive options. Each is true depending on circumstances and the problem being solved.So, as in Schrödinger’s theory, the cat is dead AND alive.However, the binomial tree of probability, which gets applied in these personality (qualitative) tests, as a weighting of preference CANNOT factor in “and” states.A person has to choose one option OR the other.Right there is an example of a major maths fallacy and why the Quantum Mechanics approach to measuring us (intelligence, personality, purpose, culture, language etc.) doesn’t cohere with the Quantum Relativity approach to measuring us.The mechanics approach applies linear algebra and probability.The relativity approach is being rewritten as we type…[And anyone reading this comment would say I sound like an Enneagram #5 the Investigator more than a #1 Achiever, haha.]

          11. JamesHRH

            5 is where I have you.But the other process – wine & friends – is far more accurate & far more fun.

          12. Twain Twain

            Funnily enough, this was in TC today: “In the coming years, our perceptions of language — and indeed, the limits of machine understanding — will undoubtedly undergo a forced revision.”*…Have a guess which “mad” inventor decided to force-revise the ideas of intelligence, AI, mathematics, economics, language (even taking on Descartes, Turing, Adam Smith, Dr Johnson’s dictionary et al)?AND had the pragmatism and coding skills to build the system and make it commercial (not just some academic ivory tower theory)?Long before I did that Enneagram test, I discovered this in my astral charts….Conjunction Mercury – UranusShe is perspicacious, ingenious: she binds intelligence and originality together with genius.Saturn in VIIShe is persevering, methodical and persistent, which brings professional success.Uranus in LibraWell-developed artistic leanings.House II in AquariusSuccess in professional life won’t take place without the help of friends and protectors. While she might earn enormous amounts, she can lose as much if not even more. Best financial success through networking with others. Might succeed in business on the internet.+++++++++While Enneagram, MBTI, Belbin et al focus on assessing personality types, I drafted 8 types of inventors the other day.Enneagram have Einstein as a #5, I noticed.It’s true, I can be very cerebral and am constantly asking why things are the way they are and how they can be made factorially better.Not just a bit better. Better by QUANTUM dimensions.The symbiosis between my cerebral skills, artistic leanings, scientific pragmatism and commercial senses have strengthened over time.How I am as an adult is how I was as a child, my mother says. Only now I have more toys to play with!

          13. Twain Twain

            Me under stress? Ok, when my Dad died my older brother said this: “Thank goodness you’re here. We wouldn’t have got through it without you. You’ve always been the driver in our family.”Even under extreme stress, I’m all about “What work needs to get done? Ok, let’s do the best we can.”

          14. Erin

            Did you read the descriptions Twain? I can send you a free 40-minute test if you want. That might be a big more accurate. And if you want to send me a cocktail, I can tell you my opinion. 😉

          15. Twain Twain

            Haha, is the cocktail a Cosmopolitan or an Alabama Slammer?My friends would be surprised the Peacemaker and the Helper don’t score more!

          16. Erin

            Oh! Ok well if you’re more peacemaker/helper I’m off base.

    5. Richard


      1. Twain Twain

        Who are your Top 3 charismatic leaders?Sir Richard Branson would be on my list. He’s the most people-person leader I’ve seen in person so far.

    6. JLM

      .Leaders do not receive power; they take power.Read this: http://themusingsofthebigre…It is about leaders taking power.See who grabs the reins and then give them to her.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Twain Twain

        Read and twice, :*).This is interesting because in banking and public companies there’s this term “the mandate of the CEO” which suggests that power is conferred by others and has a remit (theirs)?

        1. JLM

          .The notion of “taking power” is a force of nature. In every social unit, there is always someone who takes power.You might say that within the social unit of the Republican presidential primary, The Donald has taken power. He did not ask permission, he just took over the mic.But, The Donald knows all about taking power. It is what The Donald does.Jeb Bush, OTOH, is a nice guy who is almost uncomfortable with taking power — doesn’t go with his waspy view of the world. Too forward and all.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Twain Twain

            A-Ha! “He did not ask permission, he just took over the mic.”And now I know more about the differences between the two Republican candidates than all the media coverage about the Donald’s comments on Mexicans!Now, one of the observations about female founders is we tend to wait and ask for permission (to speak up, to put ourselves forward for roles of bottomline impact, to be invited to boards). Sheryl Sandberg wrote about this in ‘Lean In’.So this would be the “Jeb Bush way”!!!

          2. JLM

            .Well, there is also the patent unfairness of a guy being “confident” and “aggressive” and a woman being “bitchy” and “pushy.”I like Carly Fiorina. She was born BTW in the ATX.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. sigmaalgebra

            > I like Carly FiorinaMaybe review the story of Carly, HP, and Tom Perkins: In short, Carly went all hysterical, and Tom told her that all she had to do was just tell the guy to be more careful about what he said to the press. IIRC, Carly’s hysteria is why she got fired.

          4. JLM

            .I like the idea that Carly got fired. It shows she lived a little.I have read several versions of events and there is much for folks to regret.The fact that she made it to that lofty level — particularly at a point in the markets when the industry was contracting — says something about her grit.I like her because I think she’s danced with triumph and disaster and treated those two impostors just the same. [Stolen from the genius of Rudyard Kipling, admittedly.]The Republicans will use Carly as their Hillary shill because she can be as mean as a rattle snake without anyone accusing her of “picking” on the woman in the race.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. sigmaalgebra

            I concede: You know more about it than I do.

          6. JLM

            .In the little thimble that is my life’s knowledge, I have wetted it to the quarter full line. No more.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          7. Twain Twain

            Reciprocally, guys can be “douchy”, “sleaze ball”, “dolts”, “jack-***” and “*ankers”.That’s the thing that’s missing from dictionaries, of course.When terms are used, there are all sorts of gender connotations and perceptions which are inferred but have never been documented in dictionaries in a sensible way.So I’m changing that because I built a classifier to do it, :*).

  5. Mario Cantin

    This was concise and extensive at the same time: feels like I’ve read an entire book under 5 minutes.As well, I feel intellectually “satiated” after reading this somehow, and so that’s probably where the expression “food for thoughts” comes from…

    1. Donna Brewington White

      He has a gift.

      1. Mario Cantin

        It’s quite the masterpiece this one. This is perhaps why Fred doesn’t write books: he puts it all into the blog.

    2. Kyle Van Pelt

      Agreed. Sometimes I have to read his posts 2-3x over the span of the day to make sure that I have taken it all in.

  6. William Mougayar

    Board Leadership is great, but what if there is no Board Leadership that emerges or is allowed to emerge, and what if you end-up with a disfunctional or weak Board? That’s when it gets tricky and more difficult, and can result in inaction and waiting, and these are a killer. It is in bad or difficult times that Board Leadership is tested & needed the most. Without it, problems and issues compound instead of get solved.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I thought Fred’s post was really helpful — obviously he’s a master. But I also thought about how leading a board can be like herding cats (I’ve been one of the cats and thoroughly enjoyed being one). In my situations we had a strong caused-based motive and could always bring people back to that. So, like you, I wondered what to do in a situation that was not as clearly defined or people are not as likely to be led.

  7. Donna Brewington White

    It’s been many years since I was on a board and I barely knew what I was doing. This was for a nonprofit organization that the board was trying to turn around — for all intents and purposes it was a “startup” because we stripped it down to nothing and started over.What I remember distinctly was that one of the board members was especially critical of the young Executive Director (who would later become CEO). We hired her for peanuts and gave her an opportunity to learn on the job. Because she was young and inexperienced, some of the older board members seemed to think they could just randomly criticize her. I discovered that by insisting on a performance review process, this wiped away the ability of board members to criticize the Director without having clear grounds for doing so, and it minimized random criticism. It also required that any criticism be accompanied by constructive suggestions and that it be delivered through the performance review process — which I got to administer. 🙂 We made it quarterly since she was on such a growth trajectory and it was also a way to mentor her. Anyway, since then, the organization has become vast and thriving and the CEO is still there over a decade later.Not a tech startup but a very valuable and rewarding experience that taught me a lot about the role a board could have in supporting a young leader without stifling her.

    1. Twain Twain

      She benefited a lot from your wisdom and goodness of heart to put a proper process in place.And THIS is an example of how board members make a difference to women becoming CEOs. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t tech. That young woman would not have had the opportunities to grow, realize her potential and lead the organization to thriving success if it wasn’t for you.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Thanks, Twain. We had a wonderful leader of our board who saw me as a partner and ally. Her confidence in me was empowering; I was just passing it on.

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Sounds like you brought some sanity to the process. One of the frustrations a lot of my friends suffer from in their work lives (even when they are not CEOs) is the lack of constructive feedback that helps them grow. Too often the criticisms they get seem arbitrary.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        One of my all-time favorite quotes was from the AVC comments — “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”Just had my CEO coaching session with @JLM:disqus today and feel like a champion. 🙂

    3. PhilipSugar

      This is a great comment and pertains to all levels of the organization.If you have a criticism it should be direct and specific.It should not be I don’t think she is doing a good job. It should be, we really need to have an articulated plan and she has not provided one, so from my view we are flying by the seat of our pants which scares me as a board member, can we get one and how can I help?It should be voiced to the person in a private setting. It should be discussed. It should be given a chance to be resolved, before escalated.If a resolution cannot be had then it can be discussed going up (never down). I have watched (and been the target of these)It is super frustrating. It is like getting hit with punches from people you don’t see. Eventually you either cover up or lash out (guess what I do?)

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Rich comment. As always.

    4. ShanaC

      I actually like this a lot. It takes out some of the ridiculous reasons people criticize and replaces with actionable stuff

  8. Kipchirchir Bitok

    Great read! It seems that as a leader, you say “Hey, it’s your ball, run with it!”. But at the same time being subtle with “You are confined to the field limits, don’t go offsides!”. Effectively being a coach who is also a referee. 🙂

  9. Nidhi Mevada

    How to decide whether the person is right for board or not?

  10. Russell

    Highly recommend reading, A Team of Rivals, about the cabinet that Lincoln created upon winning the Presidency. It consisted entirely of other candidates, who felt they should have been in his role, and certainly felt they could do a better job of it. A stellar story, and great read!

    1. Kyle Van Pelt

      I have read several other books about Lincoln and while I don’t agree with everything he did, his process for picking cabinet members was really impressive and respectable.I will have to add this book to my list and check it out.

      1. pointsnfigures

        What’s really interesting is Lincoln chose that team in spite of the rancor in the country. Most leaders would choose exactly like minded people. Lincoln was confident enough in himself to choose people he thought were best for the positions given the tough times that certainly laid ahead. He avoided the echo chamber.

        1. Twain Twain

          This is a great point. Echo chambers are the death of innovation and informed decision-making.

      2. Russell

        I think you’ll enjoy it, I certainly did. The author, Doris Kearns makes the point, fairly convincingly that his success was because of the talents he had in the cabinet. She also highlights the shift in opinion of the cabinet from disdain to admiration for Lincoln, who in nearly every case put the success down to Lincoln.

    2. Salt Shaker

      “Team of Rivals” is a great read. My father was born on Feb 12th and my grandparents named my dad Lincoln after our 16th President, who shared the same birthdate. Inspired me at an early age to learn a lot about Abe. A lot of lessons in Kearns’s book about leadership, humility, humanity and character building.

  11. JaredMermey

    Does anyone have thoughts on board v. founders? What if board members are investors are founders AND then they hired the management team. A bit of the opposite of how most startups work but would be interested to hear if others have experience in this paradigm.

    1. JLM

      .’As a founder and CEO who has served on boards for more than a third of a century, I think the following.As a founder, it is your company. You own it. Do not ever give up control, if you can.You can hire a CEO coach who can provide you with a bit of experience and wisdom. Hire a CEO coach who has actually been a CEO.If you are not able to control your company, keep a big financial reserve, re-pack your parachute every so often. 80% of VC funded companies change their CEO in the first 4 years.My actual experience as a CEO coach the last 3 years suggests this is exactly correct. Not always a disaster for the CEO but sometimes quite unwelcome.When you are a serial founder/entrepreneur and can fund your own startup, it is much easier to maintain control.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. JaredMermey

        Great advice. But what about companies incubated either formally or informally by an investing team who then puts together a management team to run the business?Have you (or anyone here) ever dealt with those and, if so, is there a different way to approach board and daily operation dynamics?

        1. JLM

          .If the NY Yankees are playing the West Austin Youth Association, the game still has rules — hopefully, the same rules.When it is as you have described, then you obviously do not have a visionary leader whose vision is guiding the enterprise. That is OK as long as someone has a vision and can articulate it.In the end, it is all about Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values and Culture. If you can get those things sketched out, then you can build a business around them.I would not overlook the importance of having an entrepreneurial founder with a bit of founder craziness in the mix.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. LE

        Do not ever give up control, if you can.That is for sure the area where someone needs the advice of others. And I do mean interactive coaching and/or advice. In real time if possible. Not reading blogs, not a quick question, but someone who is emerged in all details, asks many questions and evaluates the full and complete situation. I would certainly guess that that is the value that you provide when you help. It’s like a medical consult with a full history taking specifics into consideration not just rote advice. Details and facts matter. Everything is a tradeoff. Impossible for someone doing things for the first time to be able to consider all of the factors and come to the right conclusion without a seat of the pants feel.That said no substitute for having gone around the block yourself. Why? Because it is often the case that you are interacting with people and something that they say or do changes the facts (that you have previously discussed or advised on). As the facts change you may have to change your reaction or your course. And if you know things yourself you can do that on the fly without having to think. In real time.This morning I had a deal already struck between two parties (buyer/seller) and I sensed weakness on the part of the seller. So even though the deal was struck, and buyer was quite happy with price, because seller said a few words he shoudn’t have I drove the price even lower, just for the fun of it. Doesn’t put any money in my pocket at all and most likely won’t even make me more loved by the buyer either. Most important, would have been impossible for me to convey to someone what those things were and my sense but I know them when I see them and can gauge exactly the risk in taking the chance.

  12. Kyle Van Pelt

    Has @fredwilson:disqus or anyone from this community ever taken the time to comb through his posts and create an e-book from all the wisdom? MBA mondays, posts like this one. They are all priceless for first-time founders.

    1. Guillaume Lerouge

      There is this gem, not sure if you saw it before (Fred blogged about it a while ago):… => not quite an ebook, but quite valuable nonetheless.There is also this: => but $19 might be a bit steep for an ebook based on free content…

      1. Kyle Van Pelt

        Legit. That’s exactly what I was looking for.

  13. JLM

    .Everything that Fred says is true and wise. Having served on boards — public companies, private companies, foundations, charities, arts organizations, neighborhood associations, alumni groups, athletic groups, anarchists — I urge the following considerations.If you want an orderly result, then you have to have an orderly plan.1. Every board needs a board charter which is a written agreement (2-5 pages) which outlines the authority, duties, admin, and operations of the board. Same thing for committees.2. You MUST have a Chairman. You are looking for a Gray Haired Eminence. Here is something I wrote on the importance of having a Gray Haired Eminence in 2012. I believe it all the more today.http://themusingsofthebigre…It is not a good practice to consolidate so much power in a CEO, President, Chairman of the Board. The SEC, pertaining to public companies, is very critical of this and it is a horrible practice to have that much power consolidated in one individual particularly when the Board’s duty is to oversee the CEO.3. You desperately need independent directors on your board. Get people who have been CEOs. If you have nothing but investors, you will have everyone’s actions guided by their own financial self-interest.Get former CEOs on the board.4. You need to have committees — Audit, Nominating, Compensation at a minimum.Spread the leadership around amongst these committees. Rotate it annually. These committees should have meetings the same day as the board — before the board meeting, so their work product can be added to the mix.5. The CEO should never be on the Audit committee. The Audit committee should always have the auditers present.6. The conduct of meetings should be incredibly organized with the materials available — digitally — a week before the meeting. The CEO and the Chairman should prepare the agenda and both parties should contact board members two days before the meeting to answer questions (a huge time saver the day of the meeting) and to see if there are any additions to the agenda.7. The Independent Directors should meet the same day as the board meeting. Meet before the meeting so the work product can be injected into the meeting and then meet again after the meeting to chat about the meeting. Keep notes.8. The meeting themselves should be as crisp as possible — no smartphones, tablets, laptops in the room. Undivided attention. The Chairman should run things not the CEO.9. The agenda should contain every possible subject but only discuss those that are relevant. I think that list is more than 25 items but only about 5 need to actually be discussed. As an example, a company should have a dollar weighted org chart and a chart showing the current level of staffing (FT/PT) over the last two years. The board should see this every meeting though it doesn’t need to be discussed at every meeting.The agenda should have a time budget for each item and the board should rotate the time keeping responsibility. Run the meeting, don’t let it run you.10. There has to be “open” time for brainstorming and questioning. If your meetings are well organized and crisp. If the boardmembers review the materials, then you have the time to do a little brainstorming.Directors should ask the CEO to tell them the things that keep her awake at night. You cannot effectively evaluate a CEO if you don’t know what she’s thinking about. You will be surprised as to how that question gets answered.11. The Board has to evaluate the CEO’s performance in a formal and deliberative manner starting with the Comp Committee. This is critical to the cohesion of the company. It shold be paintstaking and objective attainment based.Tell the CEO to his face at least once a year if his job is in jeopardy and give him a bonus if it is earned. Do this at the board meeting.12. The board has to identify the critical plans that require board approval — nobody does anything unless these plans are formally approved and all reporting is versus the plan. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the planning discipline drift.A well run company has all of its annual plans in place by the middle of December, the company briefed by Christmas and hits the ground running by the New Year.Boardmembers should demand this level of performance and clarity.13. Have an annual board retreat and have half of it without the CEO.14. Conduct an anonymous board survey annually. If anyone wants an exemplar, I have several good ones you can have. This is a critical element in the self-evaluation of the board’s effectiveness.15. Ask the CEO to tell the board in writing, once a year, what he needs “more of”, “less of”, and “the same of”. Again, this will surprise you.It takes a little time to do this correctly.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a blog post. put it up on big red car!!!

    2. Twain Twain

      Added to “JLM’s Pearls” folder, thanks.

    3. Richard

      One subject area that has been missing from AVC is that of employee head count. I read this today: Good Eggs just laid of 140 people, more than 50% of it’s workforce and shut down 3 out of 4 of their markets – only SF, their HQ, will remain, and even the SF office sustained layoffs. They are Sequoia/Index backed, and raised $21M less than 12 months ago.The employee head count at Twitter and Uber is mind numbing. Any thoughts on this?

      1. JLM

        .I think one of the most overlooked tools in managing scale is a dollar weighted org chart in which you model the cost of each department and each function by body count and cost. Past, present, future (1), future (2), future (3).Banks, like Wells Fargo, have been doing this for years. They lay off 50-year old bankers, promote (from within) whiz kid MBAs, and cut their overall cost simultaneously while maintaining body count.I see startups adding marketing and sales people without even calculating “revenue/person” or failing to budget time to climb the learning curve. It is a very easy arithmetic exercise to “size” things correctly.I do not like the business ethics of Uber but they are, currently, in a league of their own as it relates to how they manage their growth. There is great wisdom in essentially being an app with all your drivers, being day laborers. Ignoring the 1099/independent contractor dilemma for the moment.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Richard

          have any excel sheets i can look at on this?

          1. JLM

            .I do but I can’t get to them any time soon. It starts w/ an org chart.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Richard

            sounds good. Thanks

    4. ShanaC

      Do boards ever have inside jokes?

      1. JLM

        .One of my favorite utterances, “I agree more with you than you do with yourself” was first uttered at a board meeting.Also, when you know that someone has a majority of the votes for a contentious issue, you say “I am voting in favor of your proposition in protest.”That’s because if you have a seven person board, you count 1-2-3-4-7.Also, if you know you have the votes you poll the room in the order of the “yes” votes so the “no” votes can see they are in the minority and change their votes.Not funny jokes, mind you.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Mark Essel

          A little funny ;), I laughed at “voting in favor of your proposition in protest”ps Hadn’t seen the big red car in action before, enjoyed the picshttp://themusingsofthebigre…Keep having a blast!

  14. Chimpwithcans

    I work in a team which stretches across continents. Though it is not a board per se, it runs on regular meetings, has a leader, and a separate chair of the meeting. The perfect meeting is a difficult thing to make happen – but good chairing of the meeting, preparation material long in advance, and strict time keeping are most vital, IMO. Great post.

  15. Sam

    The scenario is clear…”There is nothing worse than a collection of strong minded people who don’t agree with each other all telling you what to do and pulling you in multiple and opposing directions… [F]ind the strongest and most natural leader on the board, take them aside, tell them what you need from your board and what you aren’t getting, and ask them to step into the Chairman role and assist you in organizing, managing, and leading the board.”But it’s also difficult for me to imagine how a group of “strong minded people who don’t agree with each other” is going to agree to suddenly begin following someone among the group (and presumably not the current Chairman, who is not doing the job the right way) in this new role. Especially if the implication is that this new person is the natural leader — in a room full of people who likely all view themselves as highly accomplished leaders.Any thoughts on how to get that to happen?The other thing this tells me is keep the board small. I imagine this is a much more likely scenario when the board gets to be more than 4-6 people.And be very careful about who you “hire” to the board. You can hire and fire employees. Can’t quite do that with the board.

    1. JLM

      .You can fire a board member for cause — look to your Articles of Incorporation, your corporate ByLaws and your Board Charter for the methodology. If you are not happy with the provisions, revise them.In addition, board members should have a finite maximum service period and should stand for election every year.The election of a board is undertaken at the annual meeting of the company shareholders. It is also possible to call a “special” meeting of the shareholders to consider any matter that is properly before them — like an unscheduled special election of board members.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  16. conorop

    There’s an interesting balance between having the vision for the organization and showing the leadership needed to get things done. At first, I’d assume that most founder CEO’s are providing both. If things are going great, this doesn’t change. Once doubt arises, getting an additional board member to back your leadership and vision is crucial, so you can stop seeing the trees amongst the forest.

  17. TrustEnabler

    You say, “They should be someone who can put their interests aside and act with the best interests of the company and management at heart.” Depending on where the company is incorporated, all board members might be required by law to act in the best interests of the company (some states, other than Delaware, and Canada included).

    1. fredwilson


    2. JLM

      .In fact, that is NOT correct.Boardmembers are required to act only in the interest of the shareholders. They owe a fiduciary duty — the highest legal duty that can be formulated — to the shareholders and only the shareholders.As a practical matter, the interests of the shareholders often overlaps and subsumes the interests of others.Boards are elected by shareholders.Boards appoint management.Management runs the company in accordance with the directions of the board and for the interest of shareholders as articulated by the board.When you have conflicts — as an example something good for shareholders writ large is not good for an individual board member — boardmembers should recuse themselves from considering, commenting upon, or acting on such conflicted matters.Look to Delaware law for a very clear codification of these duties and practical examples of how they are to be resolved.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  18. William Mougayar

    I know that some of your posts are like white-labelled real case studies (or a composite of).Do you believe that Board Leadership can save a company (if it was allowed to emerge)? Is that the key subliminal message?

    1. fredwilson

      yes i do and no it wasn’t

      1. Rick

        I’ll take the opposite side as I often have to with the hope that others will be glad to discuss it..I think board leadership cannot save a company. But board leaders can. Anyone?.Also, Fred, it would be nice if you could throw some counter humor at some of my “Uh oh… I think Fred saw me” type posts.

  19. Matt Hardy

    I recently read Hatching Twitter. Having it fresh in my mind provided interesting background while reading this post. Seemed like in that instance you showed leadership by delivering tough messages and acting with conviction. I imagine that being extremely helpful as a founder/CEO navigating the ambiguity and complexity that comes with running a company.

  20. Peter Van Dijck

    (For everyone): what % of the boards you’ve seen in action do you think have added real positive value overall?(Versus having little real effect or being overall negative). 20%? 50%? 75%? (Trying to get a sense of how well boards generally function.)

    1. JLM

      .The challenge with answering that question is that often a well run board and a seasoned CEO are so well attuned, you cannot see their lips moving or their feet moving.Running a company is something you get much better at with the passage of time.A board almost always gets better over time if the CEO and the Board work together earnestly.I would just guess that less than 50% of boards have any real impact on a company but EVERY board has at least one member with whom the CEO develops a good relationship and it’s usually a former CEO who understands what the CEO is going through.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  21. sigmaalgebra

    This is time out from my work, but maybe it’s worthwhile:IMHO, Fred’s thoughts here are right on target for a hired manager of a large, mature, stable public company with a traditional BoD and otherwise from not so good down to dangerous. A board’s job is to make sure things are going in the right direction and when they are not to step in and make changes in an attempt to get things back on track. That seems to be asking a lot from a BoD and, thus, giving the BoD a lot of responsibility and power and risks giving too much of both. it also involves acting as a sounding board for management’s plans For any company seriously dependent on leading edge work in any of the STEM fields, there are not many Boards able to act as a sounding board for management’s plans A good board can provide immense value to a CEO and his/her company. Yes, but only in cases of a poor CEO? In a case of a good CEO, sounds like the CEO would be spending too much time interacting with the BoD instead of doing the CEO job. if your board is causing trouble for you and your company, consider addressing the board leadership question. Sounds like trying to have a leader in the BoD, a person, then, really, in competition with the CEO for power in the company. Few good CEOs would want that. Likely most good CEOs would prefer that the BoD just do the routine things, e.g., look at the results from the auditors, make sure there is no malfeasance going on, and otherwise go for a big lunch, a long nap, and golf in the afternoon. There is nothing worse than a collection of strong minded people who don’t agree with each other all telling you what to do and pulling you in multiple and opposing directions. Yup. But for a good CEO, the solution is not to get all those “strong minded”, or at least “strong” willed, people agreeing and led by a strong Chair telling the CEO what the heck to do. Better just to have the BoD members all pulling in different directions with each other, and, thus, lacking the consensus to pressure the CEO on what to do. you need to find someone on the board to step up and lead the group. So, the CEO not only has to lead the company but, now, also lead the BoD. Bummer. And in the time left over he’s going to write code? Maybe for a CEO who has no family and needs only two hours of sleep a night.Now that the CEO is leading the BoD, the BoD is what? Sure: A big lead weight in the bottom of the canoe that is the company trying to cross rough waters. Better that the BoD just remain asleep.”Too many cooks spoil the broth.”.When hire Michaelangelo to paint the ceiling, don’t have a lot of house painters around giving him advice.On the bridge of the ship, want exactly one Captain, not zero, not more than one.Eagles don’t form flocks.A committee is nowhere near as smart as the smartest person on the committee, maybe less smart than the least smart person on the committee. The easiest and best way to accomplish this is to find the strongest and most natural leader on the board, take them aside, tell them what you need from your board and what you aren’t getting, and ask them to step into the Chairman role and assist you in organizing, managing, and leading the board. Sounds like a way to have a poor CEO put up with playing second fiddle to some leader on the BoD.This solution creates a competitor of the CEO for power in the company. The problem is not to make the BoD stronger but just to keep it out of the hair of the CEO.These days, quite broadly across the US startup economy, the BoD stuff is looking really dysfunctional. Reasons:(1) The desired companies are exceptional and, now, maybe in some crucial respects quite technical. So, such a company needs a founder CEO who is uniquely qualified for the exceptional results desired.(2) In these days of delayed IPOs and high value private companies, much of the old role of a BoD for a public company is gone.When the company goes public and the early investors have their exits, have a traditional BoD that hires a traditional manager who does a good job getting the standard stuff done. Then Fred’s advice here is likely right on target.Sure, in a big, stable, public company with a traditional BoD, the hired CEO can have a long list of C-level subordinates, a big staff that gives him a single page report a day that lets him manage by exception, and for his standard 20 hour work week spend half his time playing golf with the BoD.

  22. Larry Putterman

    I agree a CEO needs fresh eyes and a board that is behind him or her. Fred does a great job of giving the alternatives when a board is not I sync.

  23. ShanaC

    Is it better for leadership to come from the outside?

    1. Twain Twain

      Some teams can’t “see the wood for the trees”? In which case leadership from outside might be helpful.However, there could be all sorts of rejection issues — much like how, in organ transplant, the existing ecosystem of the body doesn’t quite take to that organ even when the body NEEDS it to survive and thrive.

  24. marko calvo-cruz

    Super great post, timely for me too as an entrepreneur. I’d be really curious to hear what are some prevailing thoughts, especially from investors in the community, on allowing founders (and even college aged founders) to keep control of the company after a Seed stage and Series A (two distinct answers please) fund?Right now I’m building (what I expect to be) a highly anticipated product for college students (which I gather from the people I’ve gone out and surveyed and showed my prototype to). I read a lot about fundraising but I think it’s probably something nobody knows anything about until they have experience doing it.

  25. Ernest

    Cheers for the run down. So is “The leader of the Board” traditionally the Chairman?How early should a startup have a board and who should it consist of (inc. size)?

  26. JLM

    .The voice of experience from the Sage of Lancaster.Wisdom.Big Trump supporter. [OK, I’m just pulling his chain but he is having a debate watching party.]JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  27. JLM

    .Haha, good one.The other day a friend of mine directed me to the Bush for President guacamole bowl. I was surprised to learn that running for President has become an eCommerce undertaking.Tempted to scorn it as BUSH LEAGUE.Can I buy a beanie?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  28. JLM

    .Be suspicious, very suspicious of vegan hot doggers in the red meat of politics.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  29. LE

    Chris “The Place for Politics” Matthews (a Pennsylvanian) can’t even come close to containing his glee.

  30. Donna Brewington White

    Vegan hot dogs is just wrong.(Although I will only eat kosher hot dogs because the imagined ingredients in regular hot dogs freaks me out.)

  31. JLM

    .Has Chrissy admitted to his leg, or any other body parts, tingling?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  32. LE

    Not sure if it was on his show last night or I heard it watching CNBC but apparently word is Bill Clinton spoke to Donald prior to his decision to enter the race fully knowing that there was the chance if Donald was there that the democrats could end up winning and specifically Hillary. I LOVE THIS SHIT!!!!

  33. LE

    Charlie would get flattened since he doesn’t have a bad red meat bone in his body. He can’t even think on the level of what people might be able to do or are capable of. He doesn’t know the enemy. You have to be an enemy yourself to know the enemy.I am reminded of the time I was approached by some drug addicts collecting money outside of starbucks (for some halfway house). I gave them money. Since I have no clue about the whole druggie thing (didn’t even know what 420 meant until I married my current wife) I took whatever they were saying on face value and didn’t question it. Like I thought they were actually being honest I was that naive.Then I came home and told my wife the story and she promptly proceeded to schmuck me in a massive way (because she knows I pride myself on being clued in in what I do). She deals with these drug seeking types on a daily basis and knows their shtick. She knows the parameters of what they say and what they can do.

  34. JLM

    .The calculus by which Hillary ends up as President is becoming more specious and difficult not because of any prospective opponent but because of Hillary.She is not a natural campaigner like Bill. His charm is not hers. She does not have the common touch.She resorts to silliness that is obvious and apparent — like her faux Southern accent in South Carolina recently. It is a caricature.She has incredible “unfavorables” right now. So high that nobody has ever been elected dog catcher with unfavorables that high. Ever.Her unfavorables are so high that I am personally skeptical as they don’t seem to comport with what I observe personally.She has not clicked with the young folk like Candidate Obama did. You get one chance to be “cool” and then you are smoked.Young folk do not think that a rich, white, fat (mean spirited but true), elderly woman in unfashionable pants suits is cool. Candidate Obama was cool. She is not. Young folk are just that clueless.The young folk from the last two election cycles are pissed off about the job market. Lying on their basement couches in their parent’s home has made them bitter.Hillary does not really have any interesting initiatives or ideas from a policy perspective. Bernie Sanders does even if they are bat shit crazy.This election may be the Big Crazy election in which the parties are turned over to the next generation in much the same way that the JFK election took the country from the Eisenhower age to the younger WWII vets.She is reactive rather than active and she cannot dare to cross the Obama White House — can’t criticize Obamacare, as an example. This could be dicey because the WH might be willing to wreck Hill to protect their perceived “legacy.”Everyone is giving Hillary credit for having an effective “machine” but they forget that l’machine Hillary got blindsided by Candidate Obama who ran over them with his organization.Nobody will have a real money advantage this time around as there will be gobs of money out there. Look at the advantage The Donald has in regard to the issue of who he owes his allegiance to.Expect to dine out on that factoid tonight. It is an advantage completely Donaldized.Bill Clinton won in 1992 and 1996 because of Ross Perot.If The Donald mounts an independent campaign, I suspect that Hillary wins.Absent that, I am not impressed with Hillary’s candidacy and I am amazed at some of her ineptitude (purely as a campaigner) and tone deafness.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  35. LE

    elderly woman in unfashionable pants suits is cool.God I noticed that to. What’s next, a “moo moo”? Really who let her walk out in that polyester shit? I think Liz Warren dresses better. She comes across like an annoyed public school administrator.Agree with most of what you say about Hillary but keep in mind she has Bill who can campaign and that’s twice the meetings, press coverage and so on.She is not a natural campaigner like Bill. His charm is not hers. She does not have the common touch.Bill’s secret sauce can be reduced down to one thing. That smile. He is a “grinner”. That “hand in the cookie jar” forgive me thing. My wife has that as well. She has this way of un-arming me (and I am high strung and uptight you know because I don’t smoke pot and all of that or do drugs or yoga (fuck that shit)) no matter what she messes up (not that she does much but you know every now and then it does happen). So she will just giggle and automatically any of my anger goes away. And the amazing thing is this. I could be pissed off heading home for some reason (not related to her or related to her in rare cases) and I will just remember that giggle and automatically I end up having all of the anger dissipate. Just like that!. The same way Samuel Jackson said in some movies that it was the “bubbles” that drove him to drink. Thought of the bubbles and the drink brought him pleasure prior to even having the drink. The anticipation. Here the anticipation of the smile makes it all go away!Anyway back to my point. Hillary also triggers retrograde negative thoughts in people because of how she acts, the way she dresses, how she smiles and how she appears. Bill (or a grinner) is like anesthetic and bubbles. That teflon really helps and has helped him get away with shit.

  36. sigmaalgebra

    This is time out from my work, but maybe it’s worthwhile:Here’s my take on Hillary; IMHO, from experience, “the best teacher, and some will learn from no other”, plus, then, quite a lot of study from some of the most respected sources, where I “paid full tuition”, where what an MBA costs is chump change in comparison; YMMV:(1) Hillary’s bright. She’s genuinely intellectually talented. I suspect that in college she could take a 400 page novel, read it all in two hours, make notes on 3 x 5 cards as she read, then arrange the cards in some order, type the paper just from the cards, one shot, no corrections, no revisions, turn in the paper, make an A and have likely the best paper in the class.In politics and public policy, she’s heard it all, remembers it all, knows it ice cold, and in discussions can be really fast making good responses.(2) Hillery’s driven. Determined. Typically, and likely in her case, and, sorry to be sexist, four times more common for women than men, she has a medium strong case of anxiety disease. Her case is largely from nature but likely also from nurture — of course, these two, as usual, are difficult to separate if only because the source of the nature part, the parents, likely also has the disease and, thus, also passes it on as the nurture part.Standard results of anxiety disease: obsessions (thinking about some things too much, whether want to or not), compulsions (doing things too intensely whether want to or not), being all wrapped up on own concerns and not willing to dilute own concerns by genuinely caring about or joining with others.So, really, Hillary is a loner, totally dedicated to her own concerns, pursuing her own goals largely alone, etc.(3) Hillary’s angry about something(s). Really pissed. Deeply pissed off.The main thing she’s pissed off about is that the world is just not the way she wanted by the time she was, say, 18, maybe 14, 12, or 10.There could be a long list of reasons she’s pissed off and what she’s pissed off about, but my guess is that she wanted to be a boy and deeply resents being a girl. Why? Maybe she thought that her father wanted a boy instead of a girl. More? No way does she want anything to do with traditional female roles or anything like demure, self-effacing, secondary, submissive, subservient, subordinate, supportive of others, etc.(4) Hillary’s manipulative. Already in the crib, girls are paying attention to people and boys, to things. The girls quickly learn how to elicit smiles and support from others. So, early on girls are good little manipulators. That’s how they get their grandparents to buy them pretty clothes at Zulily and, then, get smiles from others as they wear those clothes.Hillary is an especially determined, guiltless manipulator. By now she’s a bit transparent at it.(5) For what she really wants, Hillery’s willing to push the boundaries.IMHO, Hillary’s not a sweetheart or a nice person. What Hillary is 99 44/100% interested in is Hillary.What does Hillary want? She wants the pride of being on top as a way to tell herself that she escaped the traditional female roles and is as strong as any of the men.Is Hillary interested in the poor people, US standard of living, US quality of life, the US economy, US national security? She can discuss such topics and can show that she knows a lot about them, but she’s not really directly interested in them. Instead Hillary is just interested in Hillary.She’s been a Senator and Secretary of State and, thus, can tell herself that that’s enough to be what her father wanted and to be as strong as nearly any man. Maybe that’s what she’s telling herself and, thus, now letting herself be unattractive in public. She’s also got the pride of being way ahead in the polls among Democrats really without much trying.It may be that the Democrat machine and the MSM can elect her like they did Obama — “We’ve had our first Black president and now will have our first woman president. Now the US is getting redemption from the old transgressions of racism and sexism.”. Maybe.But now, I don’t think so: Instead, too many people are torqued at Obama’s headlines but no real action and W’s costly, lost wars and, instead of those two, want real seriousness and competence.Trump? Who in the Republican party will beat him for the nomination? We’ll know more tomorrow. Then who in the Democrat party will beat him in the election?

  37. Rick

    You need your own talk show!

  38. JamesHRH

    I agree with you on almost all points Hilary – given her current approach, her campaign motto should be ‘ I Have Put in the Time, I Deserve It ‘.She campaigned about herself last time (I am a Woman) and she is campaigning about herself again this time (I am Experienced not just a Former First Lady).She could learn a lot from the Donald, who is campaigning about something else (Making America Great Again) and then sliding himself in as the solution.I like the Donald’s chances re: staying power. He has, at this point, mastered a pas de deux with the media: I say something off the cuff, you flip out, I explain further and finger you as playing political ‘gotcha’ BS games, I get more support from the public.Hell, he has provided the only workable (if unbelievably vague) solution to the illegal immigration issue.Maybe he will recruit Sanders to be VP!

  39. JLM

    .Bill will be exposed as a creep in the course of the election. His creepy relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and all the young girls will be dragged out and aired out. The stench will be substantial.Bill Clinton is all that you say but for all of his raconteur charm, he did not get the votes everyone thinks he did in 1992/6.No Ross Perot, no Pres Clinton.He is a little overrated.The public may like Bill Clinton but they do not trust Hillary Clinton. The email scandal will continue all through the election. Worse, it will probably get a lot of “criminal” play and the notion that the “rules are for little people” (ala Leona Helmsley) will stick even if there are no criminal charges.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  40. Salt Shaker

    Unless Trump blunders immeasurably, which I don’t think will happen, he’s gonna get a huge lift in the polls after tonight. His mere presence on stage w/ dyed-in-the-wool politicians ironically helps to further legitimize his candidacy, even as he plays the role of un-Washington iconoclast. All Trump needs is a few talking points on major issues to stay the course. That said, as the field gets whittled down w/ a much narrower cast of characters, future debates will reveal his shortcomings, if his mouth doesn’t do him in first.Agree if Trump runs as an independent the GOP is doomed, while Biden could possibly have a 4Q end run if Hilary’s prob escalate.

  41. JLM

    .Have you noticed how lean Jeb Bush has gotten? He is a new person, one half the size of the previous model.If Hillary can’t get in shape, then she doesn’t want it enough.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  42. JLM

    .If Pres Obama had been a popular president, Biden would have been a shoo-in.I agree more with you than you agree with yourself as it relates to Trump.Two things he will drill in tonight:1. I don’t have to kiss anybody’s ring or ass to be President. I don’t have to raise any money and therefore I can just Make America Great Again.He is the only guy on the stage who can say that.2. Politicians are incompetent. No politician can make such a generalization because they are, after all, politicians.Read about Trump’s experience with the Wollman Rink in NYC in the late 1980s. Here is a link to the story.http://themusingsofthebigre…I also predict that Trump will have an air of charisma about six feet in all directions. That is something few of the others have and it will really project because you don’t see politicians that way, in a herd.Last, Trump has probably contributed to EVERY single one of those guys on the stage and he will remind them of it if they chastise him. “You didn’t have any problem taking my money, did you?”The big challenge for The Donald is really can he build a national footprint, a national campaign. With that many candidates the national talent is already spoken for and he will have to wait until some of these guys pull the plug to get able to access talent.A national campaign is a startup.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  43. Twain Twain

    Body fat content is 25% for women at normal size compared to 15% for men.So it’s easier for men to burn the fat off.

  44. LE

    Oh oh oh! That’s Donald grade commentary. Can’t wait to hear what the women say about that one! A direct hit! Joan Rivers would say “oh please” when the people barfed on that one.Jeb is looking pretty good great glasses and serious Presidential look. Much better than brother or Dad ever looked.Anyway let me play the other side of Hillary. Let’s say perhaps the “Merkel” dowdy is part of the plan. She starts off in polyester and then at the end she improves her image greatly in order to make it over the finish line. I don’t think that is what she is doing but it is possible that she could improve her image when it is more important to do so.

  45. JLM

    .The gold standard for an older woman in politics is the late Baroness Thatcher. Next in line would be Pamela Harrington. Can’t forget the Queen of England.That is the look Hillary should be going for rather than the Catskills look.I apologize for my crude statements.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  46. JamesHRH

    AVC TV!That could have some legs…..Under the Rock reporting from Kid Mercury, cooking segments w Charlie C, career advice form Donna B-W, edge of tech specials from Twain and general political brouhahas featuring a cast of 1000’s!

  47. JamesHRH

    Hilary has that ‘ I will do whatever it takes ‘ vibe.

  48. JLM

    .You raise a brilliant point.Hillary is campaigning about Hillary.The Donald is campaigning about making US great. US! It is, interestingly enough, almost as indistinct as Hope & Change.The Donald is not getting credit for some of the policy pronouncements he has made. He has a perfectly credible five point plan for dealing with immigration.I laughed at something I saw the other day. A guy was saying that Trump’s purported $10.5B net worth was phony. The guy said he was only worth $4.5B!That is the kind of criticism every politician wishes they could get.Tonight will be a lot of fun.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  49. JamesHRH

    I love the ‘ take my money ‘ and charisma angles.Modern politicians are not risk takers – they will all shrink from a confrontation with the Donald.If he can pull off the messages you have laid out but lean a little more to the front runner / stateman side of things, he is golden.Coming off as a a$$hole bully is his kryptonite tonight.He could do a lot for himself if he references his father while under attack tonight – humanizing.

  50. Salt Shaker

    If Trump comes off as an A-hole tonight, then he’s doomed. He’ll look way too mean spirited. It’s one thing to shoot flaming arrows from afar, it’s another thing to do it face to face w/ the opposition. He won’t back down, nor should he, but he’ll take the high ground more than not tonight as the non-politician politician. “Let’s Make America Great Again” is a nice tagline if you’re Chevrolet, but Trump needs to add substance and meaningful teeth to his positions. He’s still too much of a Dennis Rodman in the political arena.

  51. JLM

    .I think the downside of Trump is priced into the stock already. Nobody who does not like him is going to be converted tonight.Tonight is about those who have an open mind and, more importantly, who gets the crumbs when the laggards bow out.The nominee will be the one who gets the votes from the losers. That’s simple arithmetic.In that regard, Trump has a very good chance because Jeb Bush is the establishment choice and many of the others are clearly not acceptable to the establishment.I think Trump will get the lion’s share of the non-establishment, “Anybody But Another Bush” votes.This is likely the last election for the rich, white, capitalist Republican establishment to play with their suits and French cuffs on. It is a changing of the guard much like the Eisenhower-JFK election was the guys who ran WWII handing off to the junior officers who fought WWII.Think about it — a 5-star general gave the keys to the White House to a Lt (jg). The greatest change in that century.Trump is plenty smart.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  52. JamesHRH

    Bingo!America Great Again IS the GOP version of Hope / Yes We Can.Hadn’t thought of that.Almost like he read The Candidate.

  53. Erin

    Except when I hear “make America great again”, I hear “make America White again”, or some other 18th century-esque reformulation. Trump makes me sick but I wonder if he proves my theory true, that the great shift that’s happening in what America is looking for in their leaders is someone who is self-aware. Trump isn’t self-aware worth shit but he has the illusion of it because he’s so upfront about his aggressiveness, whereas everyone else hides it under layers of PC. I promise you that if he gets into office, though, we’ll all be barfing when he leaves – not because he’s a bad person (he wasn’t worthy of the presidency after he called Mexicans rapists)- but from the physical side-effect of always having to have look up from whatever we’re doing and acknowledge him whenever he completes a small task- it could give a person whiplash. Someone with his personality type can’t walk into a room without saying “look at me!” Or more specifically, “Can I have your full attention please? Can you stop what you’re doing and look at me please? Look at meeee. What are you doing anyway, and why is it so important?” “Oh pardon me, I’m just living my life.” “Okay well can you just stop what you’re doing and look at me for a second?” It’s “funny” for a little bit but eventually his constant need for you to stop what you’re doing to pay attention to him makes the stomach turn no matter how much you love him.

  54. JamesHRH

    His answer to “where are the details?’ will be – ” you don’t negotiate in public. I’ll get it done. I mean, if it can be done, I have a 10x better chance at it than these guys. “He has a real shot if he can execute.

  55. sigmaalgebra

    > substanceHe’s got a book, quite broad across the issues, awash in details. He first published the book several years ago, but no doubt copies are still available, and no doubt most of what he said is still current.So, now he could just hold up a copy of the book and read from it. Soooooo, why hasn’t he? Because this way he gets more air time to talk.IMHO, that’s what he’s doing now: Talking, to get air time, to create interest, to let people get to know him.Really, in the broad timing, it’s not detail time yet.But saying that he has no details or substance is dangerous: He can use his book or just his memory to swat that charge as easily as swatting a fly.

  56. JLM

    .The very lack of substance to “Let’s Make America Great Again” is its genius. Brilliant!I think it’s even better than “Hope & Change.”You underestimate how incredibly stupid we can be around Presidential elections.The Republicans nominated John McCain and Mitt Romney (I like Romney, admission) and were surprised when they got smoked.In 2014, the Republicans did not mention social issues and let the President’s policies be on the ballot — as he himself suggested they were — and smoked the field.If the Republicans can be that smart once more — no two hand dunk shot — they will have the WH, the Senate and the House.Also, from the perspective of history, a 2-term party almost always loses the WH unless a sitting VP is the nominee.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  57. Donna Brewington White

    Funny that you mention Trump and Chrevrolet in the same sentence and in this context — my husband wrote a song titled “Calling All America” and said either Donald Trump or Chevrolet should buy it. Although after thinking it through, he decided to shop it to Jeep — or at least their agency.

  58. Donna Brewington White

    Sorry for the “spam” but why miss an opportunity? ;)

  59. Salt Shaker

    Can’t wait to see the overnight ratings. Reality TV at its best, all because of Trump. Without him the debate has as much draw as an infomercial. FOX can’t monetize directly but the debate will be a windfall for the network and their talking heads. Can’t buy better PR anywhere. Roger Ailes should kiss Trump’s feet.

  60. Salt Shaker

    It would be a hoot if he pimped his book during the debate. I could see Trump–the biz man, not the politician–holding up the book and saying, “tonight only $19.95 @ Amazon. Use coupon code “DEBATE.” He’d make millions!

  61. JLM

    .I think he should get Megyn Kelly to do that.It will be interesting to see how the Fox folk deal w/ the candidates. Very interesting.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  62. Salt Shaker

    No apologies, but hey, isn’t pimping America’s oldest profession? Oh right, that’s prostitution…..pardon my dyslexia.Your husband should shop his track to Fox News’ Creative Service department. It’s the perfect backdrop for an image spot featuring the network’s talking heads. Seriously.

  63. JLM

    .Love that song. Put me in, coach.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  64. Donna Brewington White

    Thanks, I’ll pass along the idea.

  65. LE

    You know the entire Trump thing will be a true watershed for the media and for people running for office going forward.Not that anyone (politicians or networks) didn’t realize before that entertaining things get coverage and are good to sell advertising. But now we have some kind white hot magnifying effect of exactly how much coverage you can get by getting out of your shell and not giving a shit. And how much the public eats it up. God knows who isn’t going to watch this debate tonight? Remember the OJ verdict? I brought a TV to work that day.This is foundational just like the helicopter chasing OJ which created “Camp OJ” coverage and so on. This will change everything. [1] Politics going forward will never be the same.Donald will work backwards deciding in advance what he wants the headlines to be in the morning. Without notes he will formulate exactly what he wants the mood to be given all of the info on what is being said right now. God knows I hope he doesn’t disappoint and I hope FIOS doesn’t go down during this game.[1] For example during 9/11 when I saw the plane go into the towers all I could think of right then and there was not the lives that were lost or the tragedy of it all but how business wise everything was going to change and that we would start spending money on things that we never spent money on before as a result of that one event.

  66. LE

    Nobody who does not like him is going to be converted tonight.Contrast principle says you may not be correct. There will be converts.When people have a stick up their ass and a preconceived notion it is entirely possible that upon meeting the person that they don’t like (who I might add will tone down the rhetoric and should in theory be more likeable) they very well might end up being converted.Here is an example. You fooled around when you were younger and all the sudden walks in one day another perfect daughter into your life. Luckily someone else paid for college. Anyway, that daughter (after a few years of getting to know you) tells you one day about a boy that she has met that she would like to marry. (Luckily you didn’t spend all of your money on perfect daughter #1’s wedding.) But you don’t like what you hear about the fella. She tells you the boy not only voted for Obama but was a community organizer as well. And he has red hair. You are really not wanting to meet the guy lest have him marry your daughter. But meet you do and you say “hmm he really isn’t that bad he seems much nicer than I expected”. Because he can only go up in your mind basically. I’ve often used the contrast principle in various forms to my advantage and I am sure that you have as well. Deliver more than you promise in another form.

  67. JLM

    .Erin —I don’t think we will have a President Trump, so your worries will likely not materialize. I, personally, don’t hear anything about making America white again. I do have very bad hearing in my right ear.I urge you to take a look at what The Donald did in NYC with Wollman Rink in 1986 during the Ed Koch administration. Politicians tried unsuccessfully to get it fixed for TWELVE years.Trump got it done in less than 90 days, on time, within budget and turned an operating profit. That is not chopped liver.http://themusingsofthebigre…This is all about facts. Reality. A better basis to judge him rather than on his bombast, comb over or wives.I live in Texas where the US gov’t releases illegal immigrants who ICE cannot process within the 120 day deadline. They are released with a phony future court date.I can take you to the street corners in El Paso, Corpus Christi and San Antonio where the buses stop, where they get off the buses, and where murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molesters, violent assailants, and other criminals have been released.The Donald may be wrong on a lot of things but on that utterance, he is, unfortunately, correct.The border is not secure. You can literally walk across the Rio Grande where it has no flow. You can sight down the few places where an inadequate fence exists and watch illegals climb and vault the fence.In Texas, we actually like Mexicans, even the illegals.We just don’t want the US gov’t to dump criminals — criminals with records in the US and/or Mexico — into our cities.We are not talking the high hurdles here.Fight fair and fight about the facts. The facts give fair minded people enough to disagree about. When ideas wrestle, better ideas result.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  68. Donna Brewington White

    :)But, wait, YOU’RE the coach!

  69. Erin

    I love people with this personality type more than most people- I’m often the one defending them to others saying they’re not as bad/scary/mean/unrefined as they appear to be- even though they may be a bull in a china shop, they have a great heart, and carry a lot of weight on their shoulders on behalf of other people. But I also have enough life experience to know that when they don’t have a capacity for self-reflection, they can cause a lot of damage. I mean, we all have a dark (or as Jung would say, an un-integrated) side. I’m just cautious about people who haven’t even noticed that they have this other side yet. Trump has great gut intelligence, totally. But he has to have his other two brains attached- his head and his heart. Otherwise he’s a slave to this need to “vent his pure and unrefined biological drive energy” onto everything and everyone (Sandra Maitri quoting Freud). Evolution brought us the pre-frontal cortex for a reason: so we could employ emotional intelligence in our day-to-day interactions- the ability to read and manage our own and others’ emotions. This has nothing to do with his hair- his hair is the absolute least of my concerns. I did look up the skating rink thing. I’m glad he was able to be so effective there. I didn’t find anything about any collateral damage made along the way, but I only made it to two websites… must retire now.

  70. Twain Twain

    Borrowing this also: “Fight fair and fight about the facts. The facts give fair minded people enough to disagree about. When ideas wrestle, better ideas result.”That’s brilliant onomatopoeia and rhyming couplet!

  71. Erin

    I got someone else to dig up some facts on Trump for me. This would be fun if it were true:

  72. JLM

    .I have no idea what any of what you have written has to do with your assertion that you think The Donald is talking about making America “white” again — which is a totally specious allegation — or the inaccuracy of his utterance regarding “some” of the Mexican illegals being rapists (another perfectly true assertion).Everything you cite is pure speculation which is perfectly proper for you to engage in but has nothing to do with your factually ungrounded assertions as to the statements noted above.I don’t actually care what the facts are (meaning I don’t care whether they are perceived as being favorable or unfavorable) and I am not doing missionary work here — I just want to engage in a factually sound discussion of The Donald.I knew something about Wollman Rink at the time but I was surprised what I learned when I researched it. I like facts. I like accurate facts. I like to base my opinions on real facts.Ad hominem attacks, ungrounded in fact, are not useful in assessing anything. I just like a fair fight even if I am not in the fight.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  73. Erin

    Oh. Sorry man, I thought what I wrote was contributory. I hear you telling me you want facts. I can look some up.

  74. Donna Brewington White

    Ha, James. You are a keen observer of this crowd.I’m in. Although I think I’d be better at scrappy recruiting advice. And if I was a screenwriter there would definitely be an AVC: The Movie.

  75. JLM

    .No, opinions are good also. Opinions based on actual facts are even better. Rock on.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…