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Build The Damn Thing

Nov 10, 2022

Episode 3: How to Build Your Personal Advisory Board


A corporate advisory board gives strategic advice on the management of the business. Your personal advisory board gives strategic advice on the management of you. On this episode of the Build The Damn Thing, find out how a strong support system, aka your personal advisory board, can help you create the business you've always wanted.



Brian Aoaeh   |   ReFashiond

Dr. Lisa DeRoche   |   Roosevelt Institute

Felecia Hatcher   |   Black Ambition

Darlene Gillard   |   Genius Guild / Copper Media Group

Kendra Bracken Ferguson    |   The Brain Trust



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Kathryn Finney


Twitter: @KathrynFinney

Instagram: @hiiamkathryn

Facebook: Kathryn Finney


Genius Guild


Twitter: @GeniusGuild

Instagram: @geniusguild



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Produced by Genius Guild Content Studios

Executive Producers:  Kathryn Finney and Darlene Gillard Jones

Post-Production Company: Prosper Digital TV

Post-Production Manager: Joanes Prosper

Post-Production Supervisor: Jason Pierre

Post-Production Sound Editor: Evan Joseph

Co-Music Supervisors: Jason Pierre and Darlene Gillard Jones

Show Music: provided by Prosper Digital TV

Main Show Theme Music: "Self Motivated" Written & Performed by Tamara Bubble 


Full Transcript

Darlene Gillard  (00:00):
Having been an entrepreneur for most of my adult life, one of the things that I've come to understand is that you really need people who you can trust 100% of the time. People who will be giving you advice, guidance, and sometimes help as you continue to grow your business. And that group of people, whether they're your family or friends, mentors, former bosses or colleagues, whoever are going to be critical to the success of your business as well as your personal success, there are a lot of decisions that you'll need to make over the course of your entrepreneurial journey. And it's just nice to have people you can lean on and who care about you for you and not about what you can do for them. 

Kathryn Finney (00:50):
A corporate advisory board gives strategic advice on the management of the business. Your personal advisory board gives strategic advice on the management of you on this episode of the Build a Damn thing. Find out how strong support system, aka your personal advisory board, can help you create the business you've always wanted. 

Kathryn Finney (01:11):
Building a personal advisory board is critical to your success. As you think about building your personal advisory board, think about areas in which you need help and where you have a weakness. They are the people who really give you the advice and direction and sometimes the slap up on the head that you need to be able to really get through this process of building. And for me, I have a lot of people who are in my advisory board, my mother, I have my close friends like Darlene, Gill Jones, Darlene, and I started off working together and then became great friends. She is the godmother to my son. Darlene has a particular talent that I do not have, which is she has the ability to speak cuckoo. I do have very low tolerance for kooky people. Darlene is able to do that, and that's really helpful for me as someone who's very impatient, to have a friend who is patient, who can say, Hey, here's how to approach this. Or even sometimes, You know what? Let me just talk to them. Catherine, you're all in the clouds. You're down the road. We don't need for you to be in this mindset because we need you to be in the clouds. We need you to be building and we don't need you to be distracted. And that has been enormously helpful for me 

Darlene Gillard  (02:32):
With so many things being thrown at her while leading these various organizations, having so many responsibilities and having to deal with so many personalities from the staff to partners and everyone in between. It can be challenging and a distraction for her to have to always manage it alone. So I come in and I can diffuse almost any situation. My name is Darlene Gillard Jones. I'm the owner of Copper Media Group and executive producer and friend of Catherine Finns. I'm a critical and empathetic listener, and I really do pride myself on being able to meet people where they are. If you're from the hood, I can speak hood if you're a billionaire ceo, I speak that language too, and I've been in many situations that required me to fully lean into that thing of meeting people where they are. And if you're not able to do that, then you should have someone in your inner circle who you can lean on to release you from that. 

Kathryn Finney 03:38):
I also have Brian who's been a really great advisory board member because he's so analytical and just so good. There are people who are just good in the world and who want others to truly win. And he's one of those people who is just really, really good and so very different from me, <laugh>, which is what I love. I seek out people who are not like me because I want people who see things differently. I like to be challenged, I like to rethink things and he thinks sees things so differently. And that's so important to me to have a friend who's a member of my advisory board who doesn't see the world the same way I do, and gives me a glimpse and pushes me to rethink things in how I approach people. And that's been particularly helpful as an investor where I've needed that sounding board. And I know that Brian will always tell me the truth, even if it's hard for me to hear. And you need somebody who's gonna be a truth teller to you, you need that person in your advisory board. 

Brian Aoaeh (04:46):
What I have learned is that wherever your wife there are people, there's going to be discrimination. Racism is one form of discrimination. And I tell people, when I lived in Ghana, I faced discrimination. When I lived in Nigeria, I faced discrimination. Now in the United States especially one of the problems that I've learned to overcome is that typically when I walk into a room, one, I'm the only person who looks like me. And then two is that people assume that I don't know what I'm talking about and question how I got where I am. And so I have to demonstrate that I earned my right to be in that room and participate in the conversation like anyone else. My name is Brian Long Aware. I am a co-founder in general partner of Refashioned Ventures, and I am the co-founder of the Worldwide Supply Chain Federation. When you are going through those difficult times, the people who stand by you, the people who stand up for you, the people who check in on how you're doing, even if that is all that they do, those are the people that you should keep close. Those are the people that you should keep close. Those are the people that you should cling to. Those are the people whose opinions you should worry about. And everyone else, people can. People who are listening to audio can't see this, but <laugh>, I just shrugged. Everyone else is just okay. I mean, that's interesting. That's your opinion. It's not necessarily a reality. 

Kathryn Finney (06:37):
My friend, Denetria Lewis, who's a mentee, a dear friend she's worked for me, she understands social media and the social media space and community. No one I know. And so she's been really helpful to me of saying, Okay, Katherine, we know you don't like to do lives. We know you don't like to do Instagram, but you need to do it and here's why. And let me give you some advice. Here's some things that you maybe wanna pose. Here's some things that you might wanna amplify. And so those are the type of people you can have on your personal advisory board. People do need to prove to you that they are basically worthy of being in that first layer. But the lesson, I think this is for any black woman who's truly a leader, is be very careful and it's something I have not done well. And I'll admit, be very careful about who you confide in. Be very careful about who's in your first layer of people and keep it very small and very tight. And that is not something that I have done well with. 

Kendra Bracken Ferguson (07:52):
Who are the people around you? Who do you trust when it's hard? When you have to make a decision? Some of that is gut and you gotta listen to your gut. And then some of that is having the right group that will tell you when you are not thinking correctly or when you need to think about something else. But at the end of the day, we have to be the voice, the guiding light for the next generation. That's what keeps me going. Hi, my name is Kendra Brocken Ferguson. I'm an entrepreneur, founder, advisor, investor, and the founder of Brain Trust. I've learned <laugh> to ask for help. I've learned to raise my hand and I've had to trust people around me to help me carry the vision forward. I created my company Brain Trust because what I learned as an entrepreneur and my first company is that I wanted to be around smart people. And I wanted to be around people that I trust, people that I trust to what they say and say what they're gonna do and to actually do it. And that integrity piece is just so important. 

- Commercial Break - 

Felecia Hatcher (09:41):
I'm a mother and I have a six year old and I don't have the luxury of just relying on myself because when I need to travel or I need to do something for work, I'm going to need someone to watch him. And so my community is very important to me because they allow me to do what I need to do. And community is not just biological family. I'm talking about the people around you who support you and allow you to do what you need to do to be the best that you can be. All of us who know the importance of having this community of people and support around us, particularly as we're building companies, entrepreneurship is hard. It's not easy, it is tough, it is exhausting. But knowing that you have people behind you who are there to support you, who can do things, even as little as this cooking dinner and bringing over a dish for you on the night that you're just so exhausted, like little things like that are really crucial to our success and has been crucial to my own success. 

I could not have done any of this along the way, along the years without the support of my family and mentors. I will never be a person that says, I am self-made. I am not right. I am community made. I am tribe made. I am family made for sure. And so my husband, True and true has been the biggest supporter, right? We have a family. We have two kids, and so my parents as well, some really great people and friends. I think if you're fortunate enough, you won't have a lot of friends in this lifetime, True Friends, but you'll have a few that absolutely have your back, and it's my obligation to do the same thing and be the backbone. My name is Felicia Hatcher and I am the CEO of Black Ambition and the co-founder of the Center for Black Innovation. I've had some really great mentors along the way, some that are informal mentors that I can shoot an email to or you know, see them in media press and you're motivated by their story. 

And then some direct mentors. Matt Hagman used to be the former program director at Knight Foundation is someone who is an absolute mentor. And I know sometimes as black people, it's hard to say a white person was like a white man was our mentor, but someone that believed in our idea prior to in our ideas, prior to most people, or when most people were laughing at us you can never not mention that in how supportive that is. And someone just kind of believing in you when you're on the brink of thinking that your idea is just so crazy because so many people have said, No, 

Kathryn Finney (12:20):
It can also be your children. For me, I consider my son as a part of my personal advisory board. He's only six. He just learned how to write his first and last name, but he is hilarious. And you need that humor on your personal advisory board too. And so when he is just funny, he can be a lot because he is my child. So of course he would have to be that way. But for every time he makes me laugh and he makes me laugh. No one else or my mother who's got a particular skill set that she's developed over many years of just like blocking crazy family members. Every time there's a big article that comes front of me, I need her on my advisory board. I need that person to tell cousin, blah, blah, blah. No, no, you're not having Catherine's phone number. No, she's not writing you a check. Continue. Next, How's your mama doing? Right? You need to have <laugh> have those sort of people on your advisory board. When you think of your personal advisory board, don't think of it in terms of the board that you have for your company. Think of it, the people who are in the business of you and the people who wanna see you win and succeed and who are doing things and willing and excited to see you succeed. 

Lisa DeRoche (13:38):
I have researched mentoring at length, and I recognize the importance of being able to bring individuals to the table who have more experience in a situation that you might have. I tend to keep around me. Advisors who I recognize will not only have experience with a particular challenge, but they will also tell me the truth, which I think is number one in value when you are looking to grow individually. I have a spiritual advisor, I have a brand advisor, both from a how do I look and present myself as well as how do I tell my story. I also look at many family members as advisors in my corner those of which who I know care about me and my future, and oftentimes sitting down with the matriarchs of my family. 

My name is Lisa DeRoche. I'm a doctor of business and HR executive and author and chair of the Board of Girls Inc. Of Long Island. Sitting down and having conversations with individuals in their eighties has been one of the most enlightening experiences that I can have because history repeats itself and the lessons tend to be the same both in entrepreneurship, in resilience, in business, and really being able to go after the things that you want. I've heard from many who are older who have traveled the road and can give you the best advice. So I believe an advisory board is a perfect opportunity to help you on your journey in this thing we call life. 

Kathryn Finney (15:45):
When you are a woman entrepreneur or a person of color, entrepreneur or maybe an entrepreneur who comes from a disadvantaged background economically, how much you have to rely on your family and your friends and your community to really support you and to help you do what you wanna do. And for me my community supported me throughout the writing of this book and I'm writing and I'm like, Oh my gosh. Community really is our biggest resource and our biggest asset. When you are an entrepreneur in your building, 

Kathryn Finney (16:19):
When starting a business, you have to ask yourself, is the solution I'm offering actually solving the problem? And if so, will people pay for it on the next episode of Build a Damn Thing? Myself and others will tell you how we navigated the startup space and learn to solve problems that were big enough to scale.