What’s the best way to choose board members?

Ryan Howard (Founder @ Practice Fusion)
Transcript: Protecting yourself as the founder; Ryan Howard | VatorNews

Dial in your EQ, watch for dysfunctional behaviors. Everyone here is a cognizant human being that’s alive. You’re picking up lots of data all the time. Fast talkers, anxiety, twitches, things like that, germ-phobes, one of my favorite board members wouldn’t shake anyone’s hands. How do you think that person reacted when we told her we were off our finance plan? Head spun around backwards like the Exorcist. Those things can be quite challenging.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Board Members – Sam Altman

Great board members, with a lot of experience seeing companies get built, are the sort of people founders should want thinking about their companies every day. There are a lot of roles where experience doesn’t matter in a startup, but board members usually aren’t one of them. Board members are very useful in helping founders think big and hire executives.

Matt Blumberg (Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman @ Return Path)
The Board Of Directors: Guest Post From Matt Blumberg – AVC

Top 5 things that make an awesome Board member:
They are prepared and keep commitments. They speak their minds. They build independent relationships. They are resource rich. They are strategically engaged but operationally distant.

Matt Blumberg (Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman @ Return Path)
The Board Of Directors: Guest Post From Matt Blumberg – AVC

My interview/vetting process for Board members:
Take the process as seriously as you take building your executive team. Source broadly, get a lot of referrals from disparate sources, reach high.
Interview many people, always face to face and usually multiple times for finalists. Check references thoroughly and across a few different vectors. Have a finalist or two attend a Board meeting so you and they can examine the fit firsthand. Give the p… (read more)

Scott Kurnit (Founder & CEO @ Keep)
The Board of Directors: Guest Post From Scott Kurnit – AVC

And it’s the unwillingness to depart from traditional norms by those around the table that stop them from happening. 1. Your best friend should be on the Board, and 2. No one who works in the company other than the CEO should be on the Board. Ideally, your best friend has industry or financial or board expertise – but even if not, having someone who has your back… who tells you the unvarnished truth… that you believe in an instant… is in everyone… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Board Of Directors – Selecting, Electing & Evolving – AVC

In summary, the shareholders elect the Board. That is the essential truth in every company. But how they elect the directors can be very different from company to company. For public companies, it is largely the same for all. In private companies, as JLM would say “you get what you negotiate for” so negotiate the Board provisions carefully. They are important.