Build Your Own Personal Board of Directors

Four prominent business women shared their leadership advice at last week’s Executives’ Club of Chicago Women’s Leadership Breakfast.  CNBC anchor Marie Bartiromo led the panel discussion about the importance of creating a broad network–your personal board of directors. 

Following are short-hand notes of some of their tips for a successful network, career and life: 

  Maria Bartiromo, CNBC 

  • Knowing what you’re good at will raise your confidence
  • Avoid a sense of entitlement
  • “Can’t be successful without relying on people around you”
  • Become a “serial networker”
  • “Need to truly understand your craft to be successful at it.”


Carol Lavin Bernick, Executive Board Chair, Alberto Culver

  • Keep connections alive, especially with friends
  • Don’t burn bridges. 
  • Focus on the 82% of your life that makes you happy; can’t control the other 8%
  • Community service and non-profit friends can be your best sounding board and promoters
  • Make time for your friends – they will be there when you need them
  • Don’t wait to add good professionals to your circle–medical, legal and financial


Christy Carpenter, President, The Paley Center for Media

  • “Your kitchen cabinet” – people who make you feel safe, have no agendas, exhibit honesty
  • Various levels of experience and see things from different perspectives
  • Include “Martians” (men) and people who think BIG!
  • Remember your mother’s advice…in her case “laugh more” and be optimistic
  • Lastly….be a mentor and share – pay it forward

  Michele Coleman Mayes, General Counsel, Allstate 

  • Measure what “matters”
  • Ask “What kind of person I want to be to attract the people I want on my board”? 
  • Take stock, take credit (share), take a risk, take a stand (but listen), take a hand! 
  • Support people around you, and listen to them
  • Enjoy the ride – take care of yourself and emit positive energy

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