I can’t think of a more iconic superstar than Dwayne Johnson.  He’s the personification of the saying, “girls want to be with him and guys want to be him.”  Multiple movies a year, a TV series, and he may even run for President?

So why isn’t he on your advisory board?

You want your company/organization to be the best, right?  You want the best people and to create a brand of trust that opens doors and is instantly recognizable, right?  So, let me ask again, why isn’t Dwayne, or whomever is the superstar in your industry, a part of your organization?

No big mystery here.  Admit it, you didn’t ask.  Its like the prettiest girl in the school who doesn’t have a date.  Everyone was afraid to ask.

Think of your specific industry.  Maybe its Banking, or Aerospace, or Sports, or Technology.  Who is the biggest “star” there is?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have them representing you, speaking for you and advising you?

Setting up an advisory board can take your entire organization to the next level.  Providing the credibility that comes for established “stars” in your industry is one of the best and easiest things you can do.

But how?  Where do you start?

Aim High – Steve Jobs didn’t call me back!

My industries are primarily technology and marketing.  My big stars years ago would have been Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and whoever controls the advertising industry.  I reached out to Steve jobs multiple times and guess what?  He didn’t even respond.  Failure.  However, in the process, I was able to get two of his board members from Apple to join our company.  Not a bad result for a failure.  We aimed high and settled for a great result.

Aim high and work your way back down.

In marketing/advertising, I didn’t even know who the big companies were.  Turns out that 60% of the ad agencies in the world are owned by either WPP or Omnicom.  They own hundreds of agencies each with presidents and vice presidents all over the world.  I learned eventually that “Vice President” is an entry level position. ?

Years ago, I had trouble getting meetings with the presidents of local ad agencies.  They were far too important for me.  One day I simply got pissed, so I went over their heads.  About 7 levels over to the Chairman of WPP and the founder and Chairman of Omnicom.  They weren’t too busy for us and one of these Chairman actually joined our company and we are still working together to this day, 16 years later.

Guess which local agencies will now take my call?  All of them.

Be persistent – The wheelchair leap!

I’ll tell a story on my business partner here.  We were scheduled for a first meeting with the CMO of Daimler Chrysler in Michigan. Her assistant said she was running behind, and from where we were, you could see a line was forming outside her office.  Multiple meetings were delayed and a couple hours went by, until we were informed she had to leave for an event.  We flew 2,000 miles for this and we weren’t leaving without at least saying hello and personally rescheduling.  Coincidentally, there was a gentleman in a wheelchair waiting to see her and blocking the doorway.  My business partner jumped over the wheel chair and into her office.  I couldn’t believe it!  A few minutes later, the next meeting was set not only with her, but with the President of the corporation.  ?

There are many stories of people like Steve Jobs who couldn’t get an appointment with someone.  But, according to legend, he would wait in the lobby of General Motors for hours for the person he wanted to see.  There’s a balance here so I’ll leave it there.  Be persistent, but not annoying or obsessed.

What’s in it for Dwayne?

This is a tough question and you have to be honest with yourself.  It may mean money, tokens, status…  various things.  There are a few things it has to be for them:

  1. Fun – fun can mean interesting as well. These people have jobs.  They are not looking for more work.  If it’s not fun/interesting to them, you’ll never get them.
  2. A Relationship – they have to like you. Could they see themselves hanging out with you socially?  If not, it’s not likely they’ll join you, or it will cost you a lot.
  3. Fulfilling – give them credit and make “it” their idea. People like to feel they are making a difference.  As long as you both succeed, it shouldn’t really matter that a good idea is credited to your new advisor.  If they don’t feel they are making a difference, you may get them on board, but they will soon leave.
  4. Rewarding – sometimes this is in stock, options, tokens, and yes money. They are here to also get the rewards of their labor.  Be generous.  Structure the deal so that its time-based so the more they add and the longer they stay, the more they get.

In summary – ask the pretty girl to the dance.

Ok, yes, “ask the pretty girl or guy to the dance”, to be politically correct. ?  Here’s some recommendations:

  • Identify the right stars for your industry.
  • Go to the top.
  • Craft an introduction message that is fun and easy for them to grasp.
  • Be persistent, but not annoying.
  • Keep it fun.
  • Build a relationship.
  • Give them Credit.
  • Have fun!
  • Always be thinking what’s in it for them.
  • Reward them!

Yes fun was repeated three times…have fun!


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