Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Hyman talks about the importance of having a “personal board.”
Jennifer’s personal board is made of a “handful of friends who I click with and trust implicitly.” We love how she says she found these friends at the “hundreds of entrepreneurship boondoggles (i.e. Goldman conference, SXSW, F.ounders)” she’s attended as she began the roller coaster ride of starting a new business. As we like to say, make your colleagues your friends. Clearly, Jennifer has mastered this aspect of living in the grey by making the most of arguably useless business conferences.
The formation of her personal board actually came out of the need for her startup to secure advisers five years ago. She explains that of all the people she met when jumping into this new territory, the individuals who remained her advisers were the people she connected most with as friends. She points out that people tend to advise “entrepreneurs they like and therefore want to succeed.” It’s a great example of how blending your personal and professional lives can lead to success in both worlds.
Jennifer’s personal board brings her fulfillment in a few different ways:
She’s found people that understand the journey she’s on, because they are on it as well, “I find myself able to discuss issues and vulnerabilities that I have and get their take or at least listen to how they handled the exact same situation.”
She’s motivated to be her best self because her advisers/friends call her out on any lame excuses she might have created that keep her from living to her potential.
Leisure time blends with work, in such a way that you feel you are always moving the business forward (she admits she wrote this piece from a ski weekend with some of her personal board members – inspiration is everywhere!)
But the most unexpected perk of living in the grey via the “personal board” is that Jennifer “get[s] to live the highs of entrepreneurship, not just via Rent the Runway, but through my friends’ successes. When you care about other entrepreneurs, you are genuinely happy for them when they raise an amazing round of funding at a great valuation, sell their company to Adobe, have a baby or just come up with a brilliant new idea.”
So how does all of this apply to you?
Take a look at who you hang out with. Who makes up your “personal board?” Do they have the same passions as you? Do you motivate each other to pursue them and fold them into your professional lives?
And don’t forget - if you, like Jennifer, find yourself at ineffective work events, make the most of it by making it your mission to find new members of your personal board!