Your Personal Advisory Board Featured Image
By - Sandi Webster

Your Personal Advisory Board

I help business owners create advisory boards – we all know about a company having an advisory board, but do you know that individuals can create a personal advisory board to get them to a particular goal?

Yes, you can.  An advisory board is simply a group of people whom you have selected to get you to that goal you’ve set.  You should respect the opinions and advice of these people – even if you only came across them at a networking event or someone introduced you.  They should have that special “something” that makes you feel you can confide in them and, in turn, they can help you meet your goals.



I’ve taught the following groups of people to create a personal board:

  1. Corporate Executives

Most corporate executives reach the first level of management on their own.  A few had mentors, advocates, or sponsors, but the corporation is not ready to supply them with a coach that typically goes to senior executives.  Instead of a coach, the executive can assemble a personal advisory board.  This board would be helping them create a strategy for their career path – including leaving the company, if necessary – to accomplish their goals.


Additionally, women and minority executives need to build their networks to advance.  The regular route of waiting to be promoted doesn’t work in a traditional, white-male, patriarchal organization.


A female executive needed to make a career decision.  She had her first child and worked hard to become a manager.  Then, she had her second child, and the job no longer aligned with her family goals.  She was thinking of changing her career, perhaps even the industry, and wanted a flexible work arrangement, if she could get it.

Solution: She created a personal advisory board that comprised of:

  1. A mentor – she had her mentor from a different company in the same industry to get a perspective outside of the company where she worked
  2. An industry expert – she attended an industry association event and was very impressed with the guest speaker. She asked him to be a part of her board and he agreed.
  3. A past colleague with whom she worked on an award-winning project – she wanted to have someone who knew how she worked as well as her capabilities.
  4. Her best friend – she wanted someone who knew her home situation and was on her side but could be unbiased
  5. Her husband – she knew she had to get buy-in from her spouse to make a transition that was good for the family
  6. The family’s financial advisor – since this move would involve a change in income regardless if it were positive or negative, she wanted her advisor to run the numbers to see where she would net out.


A Winning Result: The advisory board identified a few industries where the same job function commanded a higher salary.  The female executive was advised to use the skills she acquired in her current role to move to a different, higher-paying industry.  One of her advisory board members knew of an executive who was staffing up for a new business unit that used the executive’s skills.  He recommended her.  She got a higher position, increased her income by 30%, and got a schedule where she worked two days in the office and three days from home.



  1. High School and College Students

Getting into college is highly competitive in today’s landscape.  A student needs all the help they can get.  Forming an advisory board when they enter high school will make their quest for college easier.

A high school student’s board must include at least one parent, a school counselor, a mentor. These individuals can guide a student through some of the hurdles of getting into the school of their choice. Then, the student can add board members based on the goal.  For example, if the student is an athlete, add a coach. If the student is a theater major, then an actor would be good to have.

When that same student enters college, a different board, or additions to the board, should be done.  The goal of the student is no longer focused on getting into college, but choosing a career path, whether athletics or the corporate world.  They are focused on getting a job; therefore, the team should change.


Situation:  In tenth grade, a student athlete formed his advisory board to get press and exposure in the football and track areas where he competes.  He ran track in the summer and played football in the winter as he considers them complementary skills. However, he’s unsure as to the direction he will take but want to secure a scholarship to play Division A sports in college.


Solution 1:  The student put his personal advisory board together.

  • He included the three key people: his father, a high school counselor, and the high school track coach
  • College recruiter – he wanted to know what colleges are looking for so he can create and build his portfolio to appeal to them
  • Public Relations Manager – getting press during high school is key to having exposure to colleges so the public relations manager can guide him as to how to get free press
  • Local Videographer – excellent video reels are imperative for athletes to distribute to college coaches demonstrating the plays that they made

Result 1: The athlete was able to create a portfolio that included his video reels of both footbal games and track meets, press releases and press clippings, and student newsletters that included him. With the letter that his counselor guided him to write, the athlete received a full-ride scholarship to a Division A school.


Solution 2: The student’s goal changed once he started college.  He assembled a board structured to get him into the NFL or to work in an area that included athletes.  His board now included:

  • Main team: his father, his college counselor, and the football coach
  • Public Relations Manager – now he has one that focuses on NFL priorities
  • Videographer – more professional who attends every football and track game to get the right angles.
  • NFL-Retired second-string football player – he needed to understand the difference between high school games and NFL-quality players
  • Entrepreneur who was an ex-athlete – this is the “after” college preparation as his back-up plan in case of injury, poor grades

Result 2: The athlete became injured in his senior year of college.  He was able to pivot to start a real estate business.

Personal advisory boards are becoming popular with the above two populations.  The cool thing about an advisory board is that you can change the members to suit your goals. If you know young people who need guidance, feel free to help them form a personal advisory board…or better yet, be on their board!