Ten lessons from Reagan on building a brain trust
“And always keep meetings and phone calls as short as possible,” he adds. “Again, it’s very likely that the members of your brain trust will have big problems of their own that need tackling. If they start to feel that advising you is too time consuming or that you’re wasting their time with questions you should be able to answer on your own, it won’t take them long to bow out of your Kitchen Cabinet. Those are losses you shouldn’t risk.”
Hear everyone out and take their advice to heart. As Quiggle has noted, a Kitchen Cabinet that really works won’t always tell you what you want to hear. He underscores how important it is to hear your advisors out, even when you’d rather stop listening. And if a majority of them seem to agree on a course of action you aren’t excited about taking, strongly consider changing your own plans. Remember, you asked these people to advise you for a reason.
“When I need to make a crucial business decision, I talk to my Kitchen Cabinet,” shares Quiggle. “I trust and value their various backgrounds, experiences, and expertise to steer me appropriately. As my father used to say, they usually give me ‘just enough rope to hang myself’ if I choose to, but I trust their judgment and know that they’ll tell me the truth, even when I do not really want to hear it or may disagree. If a majority of them tell me not to do something, I probably won’t do it.”
Make sure everyone shares your success-oriented vision. It stands to reason that your Kitchen Cabinet won’t be very effective if its various members have different visions for your business. If one member wants you to open a second retail location while another believes your resources would be better spent on new product development, for instance, they’ll probably spend more time locking horns than helping you make progress.
“It’s important to note that the responsibility for making sure your Kitchen Cabinet shares a vision falls on your shoulders,” says Quiggle. “Never forget that you gathered these people to advise and guide you as you pursue your own success, not so that they could turn you into a puppet whose strings they control. Make sure you can articulate what you hope to accomplish, as well as your mentors’ role in helping you achieve it.”
Return the favor. As your business grows and matures, don’t be surprised if others start coming to you for advice.