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How to Navigate Startup Board Appointments & Meetings: Advice from Debora Tomlin & Juan Pujadas


Board members can be a huge contributing factor to a startup’s growth and member selection is just the first step. We spoke to Blumberg Capital advisors Debora Tomlin and Juan Pujadas to learn more about how founders can maximize board appointments and meetings.

Debora is a veteran CMO and go-to-market leader – formerly CMO at Symantec, NortonLifeLock, CSAA, USAA Insurance Company. She is currently a board director at LiveRamp, Nexla and Weave (NYSE: WEAV). 



Juan is a leader in the technology, financial services, and mortgage industries – a retired principal of PriceWaterhouseCoopers where he served as the Vice Chairman of PwC International and Chief Executive of Global Advisory. He has served on the board of directors for Wells Fargo & Company, Wells Fargo, N.A, and UST Global, Inc.


Here are four pieces of advice from Debora and Juan to help founders make the most of their board. 

1. Establish Clear Expectations and Boundaries

Debora: Define your expectations early on. From the outset, make sure to articulate your expectations and boundaries for board interactions. Codify how you and your team intend to engage with board members, outlining specific roles, responsibilities, and desired contributions. Ensure mutual agreement and revisit these expectations briefly at the conclusion of each board meeting to reaffirm alignment.

When selecting board members, remember that each individual was chosen for a reason. Encourage open dialogue to understand their perspectives and expertise fully. Establishing mutual agreement on communication norms, decision-making processes, and the scope of involvement creates a cohesive and productive board dynamic.

2. Encourage Open Communication and Updates Between Meetings

Debora: Maintain consistent communication with board members by sharing monthly flash reports with key performance indicators (KPIs). These reports provide a snapshot of the startup’s progress and performance, fostering transparency and accountability outside of formal board meetings. Regular updates ensure that board members remain informed and engaged in the company’s trajectory.

Similarly, foster transparency with board members by inviting them to meet with customers. You can — and should — even bring customers to meetings. This first-hand interaction offers important insights into market dynamics, user experiences, and emerging trends. Board members may be able to help with customer pain points with the product or go-to-market strategy. Encourage open dialogue and collaboration between board members and customers, fostering a deeper understanding of market needs and opportunities.

3: Skip Presentations and Optimize Meeting Agendas for Productive Dialogue

Juan: When crafting the board agenda, prioritize topics that align with the board’s strategic objectives. Avoid lengthy, overwhelming presentations and instead create ample time for questions, dialogue, and strategic discussions. Schedule board meetings when you can really utilize the expertise of your advisors. Address key topics comprehensively during meetings to minimize the need for follow-ups and maximize the efficiency of board interactions.

4. Cultivate a High-Performing Advisory Network

Juan: Beyond just board members, founders should aim to cultivate an advisory network comprising individuals who offer strategic guidance and tangible support. Choose advisors who not only provide constructive input, but also actively contribute connections, introductions, and industry insights pertaining to your specific niche. Strive to strike a balance between advisory expertise and actionable assistance.

Regularly assess the performance and engagement of your advisory networks, pruning the list to retain high performers. Encourage active participation in strategic discussions, leveraging their expertise to address emerging challenges and capitalize on growth opportunities. By nurturing an engaged advisory network, startups can tap into a wealth of knowledge and connections to drive long-term, sustainable success.

Making Your Board a True Value-Add

Board appointments and meetings can be extremely valuable for startup growth and success, if managed effectively. For new founders and executives, board members who have been through the ups and downs and successes and failures of building a startup can be valuable extended team members throughout the highs and lows of the business. By understanding the necessary work and taking the steps to build and maintain a strong board, founders can leverage the collective expertise of the members to navigate challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and grow their businesses.

Thank you Debora and Juan for your guidance! 


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