How to: Find a board member (through your crowd)

It’s been a three month long quest, but we’re almost there replacing the vacant seat on our board. While we’re sad to lose dear Anake, this has been a great process for us to find new talent, mix up our board, and get really clear on where we’re going and who we need in the mix to get there.

Having appointed (and tried to appoint) a few board members over the years, we’ve realised that finding good governance beyond your founding team is hard. Like capital raising — something we know a bit about — it’s often seen as a ‘nice to have’ not a necessary. So I thought it might be useful to document the process PledgeMe took finding our new board member, so other startups (and stay-ups) could see it’s not so hard and it is so necessary to set your companies strategy and manage your risk.

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Advancing by retreating

We’ve been talking about having a team retreat for a while. So long that our Slack channel was optimistically predicting April. But it wasn’t until the other month starting with ‘A’ that we managed to get (almost all) of the team in the same city. (We missed you, Jessie!)

Damn that's a fine-ass team

So a couple of weeks ago, seven of the team gathered in Wellington and headed out to to the KiwiConnect (they’re a shareholder. Wahoo!) house in Whitemans Valley. We wanted to spend a weekend hanging out super casual and discussing some of our goals for the upcoming year. Oh and eating awesome food. The house was amazing and I’m shocked half the team didn’t end up staying there forever. It’s definitely a step up from standard Wellington living.

AWESOME FOOD AND AWESOME TEAM

Here’s what we learned:

  • Branding is hard. We did a good two hour session throwing around all the things we hold near and dear and wading through feedback from our crowd on what makes us special. We’re still working through our final four brand values, but here’s what we’ve got so far:

→ Empowered by your crowd, powered by PledgeMe
→ Trustworthy and transparent in everything we do
→ It’s about more than the rewards and the return
→ Seriously fun humans

  • Rory is the master of the box game. Seriously, as Lana puts it “he has the moves of an 8 year old girl”.Cheesus that's a lot of cheese
  • There is nothing like cooking as a team. You get to learn a lot about people (and about food — who knew pickled fennel was a thing? Turns out Jackson did), and the way to your teams heart is really through their stomach. There was lot of cheese consumed (one wheel was bigger than Lana’s head).
  • Trello is where the party’s at. Seriously. We walked through the ins and outs of how we can use Trello better to manage our team (and lives) and these were Jackson’s top three tips:

1. Use it
2. Seriously. Use it.
3. It’s just like using post-its. Except better.

  • Banjo-riffic timesYou need a mix of work and play. We spent time lazing around reading, sharing stories of things you’d wouldn’t know about each other and working on PledgeMe’s strategy. We find strategy is best developed over S’mores and guacamole (maybe not at the same time, but if you try it, let us know).
  • The best way to force your “boss” to delegate things is when they’re sick and you refuse to let them touch anything. I was forced to sit on a bean bag in the corner most of the weekend (no box game for me…) and watch the team organise everything. It was super empowering to see the team just make everything happen around me.

If you’re thinking about running your own retreat here are a few things to think about:

  • Get outside of your day-to-day, even if it’s just an hour away. It helps you see things differently and makes it more of a break than work.
  • Have everyone propose a meal. It makes the vibe more communal and you all get to learn new recipes. though, if your recipe is the weakest link, you may be pushed off the list and you might just be Sous Chef the whole weekend.
  • Use a Google Doc to coordinate recipes and timings.
  • Encourage people to bring things they just like doing. We had banjos, running shoes, and knitting needles at our retreat.
  • If you can find a whiteboard use it.
  • Appoint someone “Chief Grocery Master”, so they can coordinate all the shopping list and recipes.

Sometimes you need to get ahead by taking a step back and seeing things from a different perspective. What better way to do it than with good people, good food, and good times.Seriously, food.