Developing Your Personal Advisory Board

By Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, MBTI Certified

When you need solid advice, whom do you call? When you are looking for productive feedback, to whom do you turn? Who causes you to think differently about things that may challenge you? Do you have a personal advisory board to help you through making difficult decisions, evaluating new opportunities, or pursuing professional goals? If not, how do you develop one?


What is a personal advisory board?

A personal advisory board is a small group of objective people whom know you well, who are interested in your personal and professional success, and who are able to help you think. They can help accelerate your success and take some of the fear and uncertainty out of the process. A good personal board will provide both support and wisdom for you as you pursue your personal and professional goals.

How do I select my personal advisory board members?

Over the past five years, I have purposefully spent time developing a personal advisory board and identifying criteria for whom I should include. As my career has grown and evolved, having a personal advisory board has become more and more critical to my personal and professional success. I’m very selective about whom I place on my personal board. Here are some of the criteria I consider:

  • Who sharpens me?
  • Who inspires me to achieve more?
  • Who supports and encourages me to keep climbing and reaching to achieve the goals I have set for myself?
  • Who brings new perspectives and ideas into my life?
  • Who stretches my thinking?
  • Who is willing to offer truly constructive criticism when I need it?
  • Who is willing to tell me directly that he or she thinks I have a bad idea or am headed in the wrong direction?
  • Who brings a completely different background and set of experiences into my thoughts and awareness?
  • Who knows and understands my strengths, weaknesses, and personality type?
  • Are they emotionally tied to the outcome of my decisions? Or can they be objective?
  • Are they positive and forward thinking?

These are the people I want to surround me and support me no matter what comes my way.

I have both men and women on my personal advisory board. I have administrative professionals, business owners, financial and legal professionals, and executive/success coaches. Their educational backgrounds vary. Their experiences overlap in some areas and significantly vary in others. It’s a fantastic mix of trusted advisors.

Meeting and communicating with my advisory board

Most of my personal advisory board members do not know they hold that “unofficial” title. I do communicate with each of them regularly, though, by phone, e-mail, getting together for coffee or lunch. I share what I’m doing and the goals I’m pursuing. I share my successes and my challenges. I bounce ideas off of them. They help keep me accountable to my timelines. One of my board members is so in tune with who I am and what I’m trying to accomplish, she sends me ideas and supporting information to keep inspiring me on an almost daily basis. I love that! Her random thoughts and tidbits of inspiration have been extremely valuable to me. In turn, this also inspires me to be the type of person others would want to have around them and supporting them as well. It’s contagious.

Giving back to my personal advisory board

As my advisory board members support, encourage, challenge, and inspire me, I realize this is not a one-way street. I am constantly thinking about ways I can add value to their personal and professional lives as well. I want to be the kind of advisor for my friends and colleagues who meets the same criteria I have set for my own personal advisory board. I also try to show my sincere appreciation in the form of small gifts or books, treating them to coffee or lunch occasionally, saying thank you verbally and in writing.

There’s an old adage, “There’s wisdom in a multitude of counselors.” Surround yourself with many wise advisors, and you’ll reap the benefits of their wisdom and insights as you actively pursue your personal and professional goals. Your long-term success depends on it!

© 2010 All Things Admin and Julie Perrine International, LLC

Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at

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