A "Success Team" That's Lasted a Decade

What's made it work.

Posted Sep 17, 2020

Teleconference by romzicon from the Noun Project
Source: Teleconference by romzicon from the Noun Project

Ten years ago, I invited seven people who I thought were wise and would do well in a group to form what's been called a "Success Team," or what I named, a Board of Advisors. Since then, we’ve met once a month by phone using FreeTeleconference.com. (We tried video conferencing but ended up going back to the phone.)

The members must feel that being in the group is of value because five of the seven have remained throughout the decade, and the other two bowed out only because they had a new baby.

At last night's Board of Advisors meeting, I read the above to the group and asked, "Why do you think the group has lasted so long?" Here were their responses:

"I particularly appreciated the last meeting when I talked about the problem my wife and I were going through."

"It felt good to tell you about the cancer scare I had."

"I always look forward to the meetings because the advice we give each other is good."

"We've grown comfortable with each other."

"The group has spawned friendships between sessions."

"Although we're diverse in political and world view, I think it really helps that we're all upper-middle-class and well-educated so we can relate to each others' problems."

"I appreciate that you (Marty) usually let us talk but occasionally bring us back on track, and reliably, right at the one-hour mark, end the meeting and have us agree on the next date. Also, the morning of the meeting, you email us a reminder."

I'd add that today's work and personal relationships tend to be more transient, so there's something nice about a small group of people who've gotten together regularly for a decade.

Also, after 10 years, it's not surprising that we sometimes run out of problems that members bring up. So, if there's a long silence when I ask the group, "Who has a problem they'd like to share?" I have a fund of trigger questions on hand. Examples:

  • Is there something going on in your life that you want to tell us about? It needn't be a problem.
  • Is there something you're particularly looking forward to or dreading?
  • What's something that people misunderstand about you?
  • Anyone want to give a two-minute lecture on something?
  • What's your definition of the meaning of life?

The takeaway

Especially in the time of COVID, when virtual meetings of all sorts are the norm, it helps to have some proven rules and principles for such meetings. Perhaps those that govern my Board of Advisors might be helpful to you.

I read this aloud on YouTube.

Here's a previous post on nuts and bolts of running such a group.