NACD Directorship – The Unsociable Boardroom: A Costly Strategy for 2014

The Unsociable Boardroom: A Costly Strategy for 2014

Social Boardroom

Directors need to understand how strategies are being applied or affected by the social world.

Or as I like to say “Directors need to make friends with Social Media if they want their strategy to be relevant in 2014″

As a board leader a half decade ago, you might have believed that emerging social technologies such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ had no place in the boardroom. Social media platforms appeared to have no relation to financial performance, nor were they considered strategic business drivers, and therefore were not part of the boardroom agenda.

In 2014, the corporate boardroom is being bypassed by the investment community in recognizing the strategic importance of social media to corporate performance. Investors are analyzing and interpreting “big data” derived from social media as predictive tools. In 2013, 11 percent of Twitter’s revenue was derived by licensing data culled from its massive store of user data. Many firms are using this information to inform strategy and decision making. Both Twitter and @StockTwits have built a category of investor relations to connect investors to equities. [Read more...]

NACD So Cal Corporate Governance Week – #USCSummit

Our NACD Southern California Corporate Governance Week is a series of events both public and private.  Our focus is on creating opportunities for the governance community to identify ideas and process to enhance their service to investors and stakeholders.  Here are my tweets and pictures from the week. [Read more...]

GOVERNANCE | Wired – Conference Pictures #Society13

2013-07-13 11.15.18

Steven M. Davidoff @StevenDavidoff

funny facebook

Wonder if @VinnyJindal , CEO at @Stockr thought ” Why do my friends post this stuff when they know I have a business presentation?”

Jim B

Society #13 Conference Chair Jim Brashear@JFBrashear

2013-07-11 13.58.11

Doug Chia @dougchia moderating the panel. [Read more...]

GOVERNANCE | Wired – William S. Ayer, Chairman, Alaska Air Group #Society13

“You need to have short term performance to get to the long term.”

Bill is the leader that makes following easy.  He likes to keep it simple and focus on the alignment of three primary stakeholders: customers, investors and employees.  He brings his interest in people into view with this wisdom “let’s build a company that provide meaningful benefits not at the expense of each other.”

His eye for talent focuses on people who understand priority and bring persistence till they get it right.  As a leader he wants to ensure people who demonstrate these skills are given new opportunities.

It is great to see a self-aware leader who can say “As a CEO I don’t want to overstay my welcome and accept I only have a certain range of capabilities.”  Boards, are you ready to hear this from your CEO?

Business Wisdom

The plan is a lot easier than the execution.  Business is about people and change.   You need the right critical mass of people.  Opinion leaders are not on the formal organization chart.  Find them and bring them in on the vision.

The board’s role is critical and is the most senior level of leadership.  The role they serve for the CEO is holding the team accountable to the plan and being supportive of transformation.  Things get worse before they get better so the board needs to understand the cycle of the strategy.

The right board leader has an agenda that brings out the strengths of the board.  It is structured to:

  • Focus on a few key things
  • Bring balance on compliance and strategy

The board leader is the architect of the agenda.  It is their duty to make sure the board does not spend too much time powerpointing which take time away from engagement.  The way a board chair sets up the agenda builds a board intelligence culture.  The chair should ask themselves “How can the board be most helpful to the CEO.” [Read more...]

GOVERNANCE | Wired – Opening Reception, Exhibit Hall #Society13

Seattle, Wa

July 10-13, 2013

2013-07-10 15.02.55

  [Read more...]

Annual General Meeting (AGM) Bingo Card

As we read through proxy statements and prepare for Annual General Meetings, let us not forget to have some fun.  In that spirit, bring along this bingo card to add to your engaged listening.  Winning cards get to leave the meeting and get on with their lives.

AGM Bingo Card v1

2013 AGM Bingo Card v1

Special Thanks to Broc Romanek for including the AGM Bingo Card in his recent post:





[Read more...]

Lean In – Boardroom Edition

March 5, 2013 - My Broads Circle Keynote: Broads on Boards Event

LABJ April 2013

Welcome to the 4th annual Broads on Boards program:  Women on Corporate Boards

Hi, I’m Fay Feeney, my day job is CEO of Risk for Good where we equip CEOs and their boards to govern in this new mobile, transparent, connected world by bring digital intelligence to the competitive uncertainty in the equity markets.

I’m also the President of the Broads on Board program for Broads Circle which is an executive-level networking group with a focus on MONEY and POWER for WOMEN.

The mission for Broads Circle is to connect senior level business women. We believe that successful, impactful, powerful people have strong networks.

They draw on these networks in driving revenue and growing capital for themselves and their ventures.

At Broads Circle we talk exclusively about issues related to Money and Power for women.

So let me begin with some action items for you to think about as we talk about corporate board service.  I’m out seeking a corporate board appointment and am using these guiding principles in my search:

Action Items:

1. The world is changing before our eyes; use your influence where you have it – with clients, in your spending, where you invest and with family & friends.  You never know who in your network has board opportunities. Stay connected – if you are in the flow of learning about board opportunities let me know.

 2. Luck favors the prepared – stay informed on corporate governance.  You can join me on Twitter #Corpgov or consider attending a NACD Director Professionalism course.  We’ll have a session August 15-16, in Newport Beach.  I’m proud to be a NACD Leadership Fellow.

 My corporate governance education builds confidence for the Nomination/Governance committee, is proxy ready and more important shows I’m serious about building company value.

  3.  Narrow your boardroom focus. Think about board service opportunities starting with private companies and public companies on the Wilshire 5000.  The F500 have plenty of people vying for those seats.

For example, let’s look at the 79 S&P 500-listed financial services firms, these provide a window into the governance trends affecting these companies.

Among the 2012 trends:

  • Financial services firms welcomed more new directors; 53 new independent directors joined S&P 500 financial services boards in 2012 compared to 45 in 2011.
  • The profile of new directors has evolved, with the boards of financial services firms adding more women and financial services executives and fewer private equity professionals and retired CEOs. Of the new directors joining financial services boards in 2012, 30% are women.  Do the math, 30% of 53. [Read more...]

Don’t I Know You? Bring your Big #Reputation Online!


Don't I know you

Is 2013 the year you are taking social technology seriously enough to engage personally on Twitter?  If so, you may be surprised by the impact on your real life reputation once you go social.

Like the new years resolution for going to the gym, I’m seeing some new people showing up on Twitter. These are people who have established reputations in real life – CEOs, corporate counsel and entrepreneurs.  We even have a hashtag for CEOs who are leading their organizations to leverage social technology #socialCEO .

You may be in enterprises where your business has been engaging in social media for marketing but not personally.  With the IBM Social CEO Survey data we are seeing 16% of CEOs on social media with expectation for that number to triple in five years.

Like the new faces at the gym, I’m here to welcome you and share what I know about operating the equipment safely. Last thing I want is to see someone risking their personal safety and getting hurt!

I’m happy you are here and interested in following you. Like any place, new people bring fresh perspectives and insights. I speak about making this happen in the boardroom and I live it online.  My big idea for 2013 is “let it begin with me.”  With the amazing transparency I’m seeing the last thing I want to do is expose my reputation by going all command and control.  ”Do what I say, not what I do” falls into a category of lessons I’m unlearning.

My board clients are generally not going on Twitter to engage but to observe the #corpgov conversation, follow their customers, company, executives, competitors, employees, investors and issues of interest.  Together we curate a Twitter feed that filters a bespoke experience and closes their information gap.  Directors don’t need to tweet to govern the digital revolution.  What they need to do is listen and understand the strategic issues.  These insights come from big data analytics and are affectionately referred to as “social media exhaust.”

When I bring clients with big off line reputations online their reputation risk goes way up.  Here is my process to equip them to have an experience that will transform them and accelerate their business in the digital revolution:

Week One:

Tour Twitter and identify how it is being used in your ecosystem by collaborators and competitors.

Goal setting: clarify thinking about why you are using Twitter:

  1. Who do you want to connect with on Twitter?
  2. Learn how to listen/speak
  3. How will people connect with you?
  4. Who will you follow back?
  5. How to deal with people who you don’t want to follow you?
  6. Learn what authentic engagement looks like by following my favorites in #corpgov #law #CSR #diversity #ESG #safety #socialmedia and more. [Read more...]

Boardroom Turbulence – Strap Yourself In for 2013


Hello from Fay

I’ve been on the go, which makes sleeping in my own bed that much sweeter this holiday season.  As I think about 2012, my take-away for directors is “more than ever, your CEOs need your wisdom and provocative questions to support them in adjusting their thinking and strategy to a landscape of turbulence.”


Changes brought on in the past year from the digital revolution alone are accelerating business risks and opportunities.  Mary Meeker speaks to this in her 2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update.    She calls it “The Re-Imagination- of Nearly Everything.”


Mary MeekerThe “weapon of choice” in the digital revolution is proving to be the smart phone.  It provides stakeholders a tool to connect with like-minded individuals anywhere, any time.

This year, when speaking on social technology, I’ve been asking directors to think about issues from the constituent’s viewpoint (investors, customers and employees) for a start.  Broadening to stakeholders is the next level request.

I recently heard Mark T. Bertolini, Chairman, CEO & President, Aetna Inc., speak at the NACD Board Leadership Conference.  Yes, he has a Twitter account @mtbert, but that’s not the only reason I like him.  He spoke to the value of having the CEO be an active participant in the social conversation.  Here is a link to his session, which is a blueprint for the #SocialCEO.

We certainly expect our C-suite to align their messaging to demographics, but it is far more complex than it appears.  People are expressing their underlying attitudes and values in a variety of ways that are being expressed in the public domain on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.

An expectation for CEOs is to listen, assess and, if appropriate, adapt to the feedback.  It reminds me of the first two steps in a risk management process: identify and assess.  I encourage directors to stop and consider ways they can help their CEO speak to values that define, strengthen and grow the company.

As a board leader, your agenda needs to allow time for the on-going, dynamic issues that are emerging that may not have been assigned to a committee:

  • Company culture and talent
  • Company brand and reputation
  • Opening communication channels from the outside/in
  • Sustainability and safety
  • Supply Chain
  • IT and social technology including cyber-risk
  • Diversity & Inclusion

I heard James Robinson, III speak in New York City at the NACD D100.  His message to business was simple: “To grow and sustain a successful enterprise, recognize that we are all in it together, act accordingly.” [Read more...]

Engaging the Boardroom: Social Media for Corporate Directors

“Your business is operating in a digital revolution, use your peacetime wisely” with this statement Richard S. Levick, Esq., President & Chief Executive Officer, Levick kicked off our panel on “Everything Directors Need to Know About Social Media” at the 2012 NACD Board Leadership Conference.

Speaking to a packed audience my curiosity was: who in the audience will leave seeing social media as a strategic business advantage?  Will they take action and get social media on their next boardroom agenda?

As we began our session, I asked Allan Grafman, CEO, All Media Ventures and Chairman, Majesco Entertainment to help us better understand boardroom thinking, “What’s the biggest misconception that many directors have about social media as it relates to their business?”

He said, “They think it is being handled.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is an iceberg…and larger than you think” which gave the audience one of the many opportunities to sit up in their chairs.  Allan gave us a couple of takeaways right up front:

  1. Don’t let social media get put in a functional silo: it touches and impacts every part of your business.
  2. In the boardroom, it is too large for any single committee…this is a topic that needs the entire Board’s attention.
  3. Don’t believe social will go away, make a list of questions and begin the conversation with your Board and Management team.

It was time to tap into insights from Neil S. Braun, Dean of Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York.  He has previously been President of the NBC Television Network, Chairman and CEO of Viacom Entertainment, Braun serves on the board of directors, audit, compensation and governance committees of IMAX Corporation.

Neil spends many hours now with students who are driving the digital revolution using social and mobile technology.

Asked about how to connect with students, he shared that email is becoming passé.  If you want to get your message to his students it requires texting.  They are using their mobile phones as ways to stay connected in their world.  This is consistent with a global trend on mobile devices.

Social media is part of a larger technology revolution where social connects to mobile, cloud and big data.  It is becoming a foundation for business transformation and innovation.  It is also a new form of radical transparency into your boardrooms where fans, critics and disruptors are questioning the “art of director decision making.”

At the end of 2011 there were six billion cell phone subscriptions globally, which means that 86% of the people on the face of the earth can now connect and talk or text directly with each other.  By comparison there are only 2.3 billion internet users.  More people in India now have mobile phones, than have indoor plumbing.

As directors your role is to support your CEOs in exploring how they can socialize and humanize the company as a place to buy, work and invest.  It is important to remember that these social conversations have just begun with your customers, employees and investors.  With or without you they are talking about your brand with each other.  The challenge for the business is to accept that you do not control the conversation anymore.

This opens your business up to a variety of emerging risks which were defined in a recent study by Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, in conjunction with The Conference Board, where they surveyed CEOs, senior executives, and corporate directors.  The study could be summed up as: Lots of Knowledge, Little Action! [Read more...]