Managing Communication with Your Board with Matt Glotzbach
INTRODUCTION: Welcome to the Daily Bolster. Each day we welcome transformational executives to share their real world experiences and practical advice about scaling yourself, your team, and your business.
MATT BLUMBERG: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. I'm Matt Blumberg. I'm co- founder and CEO of Bolster, and I'm here today with Matt Glotzbach. Matt is the former CEO of EdTech, Juggernaut, Quizlet. He, prior to that was head of product for YouTube and is someone I've gotten to know well over the last bunch of years, fellow CEOs and some of the same venture portfolios. So Matt, welcome to the Daily Bolster. Good to see you.
Matt Glotzbach: Thank you, Matt. Great to see you as well. Thanks for having me.
MATT BLUMBERG: Yeah. Well, so one of the things I love about the arc of your career is since you've left Quizlet, you've been doing more coaching and more advising. I know one of the topics you and I used to cover quite a bit was board and effective boards and the relationship between CEOs and their boards. So the question I have for you is when you're advising your clients on how they can get the most strategic value out of the board, how do they make the board work for them as much as they work for the board? What are some of your top suggestions on how they can either manage that process or manage communication to get that end?
Matt Glotzbach: Yeah, I think it's such a great topic. It's one that I got a lot of advice from you on and learn through the process of doing, and it's so key about turning your board into a strategic asset as you alluded to. So the first one is really simple but counterintuitive I think, to a lot of CEOs, which is frequent and regular communication. And so one of the simple examples is, I would send out my board a monthly update, a dashboard, if you will, of KPIs, a little bit of commentary, and then I would make a note to try to reach out with something to my board every couple weeks. And I found that giving them information more frequently, more consistently actually helped them know the business, but it also shielded me from a lot of the random inbound questions of, " I haven't heard from you for three months, what's going on?"
MATT BLUMBERG: Oh, totally. Totally. That's a great practice. What I actually do, I'll just add to it, I send an email every Friday to the whole company that's just like, Hey, here's what happened this week, here's going on, here's what I'm thinking about. And I just copy the board on it. I'm not doing a board communication, but they hear from me every week.
Matt Glotzbach: They hear from you every week. No, that's great. Yeah.
MATT BLUMBERG: So early or communicate early and often. What's number two?
Matt Glotzbach: Communicate often. And with consistency. A consistent format to your point is key to that too. Number two is as people prep for the board meeting, they put a lot of time and energy with your leadership team kind of getting the deck together, et cetera. And what I found is it was really valuable to spend time with each board member one- on- one prior to the meeting. So I would send out the agenda and then reach out to each board member and schedule a half hour, 45 minutes an hour with them and talk through the agenda and ask some key questions: Is there anything that you don't see on the agenda that you wish was on there? What's top of mind for you? And then areas where I knew there might be some conflict or that they'd want to dig into, have that discussion because you can make a lot better use of the meeting if you know all that going in versus at all surfacing in that high pressure three or four- hour timeframe. So those regular one- on- ones with board members prior to board meetings were really key.
MATT BLUMBERG: Yeah, I like that. I don't do that well, so that's good learning. I'm taking a note here while we're talking about, okay, and bring us home. Number three.
Matt Glotzbach: Number three, the last one, and this may sound again, really trivially simple, but something I used to screw up all the time. Your board is great at giving you feedback, but not on open- ended items. So rather than saying, what do you think we should do, saying we looked at options A, B, and C, I want to go with option B for these reasons, I'd love your feedback on that. And the quality of feedback, the structure, the scope of feedback was so much more useful. Didn't mean we would always go with option B. Maybe they would give me feedback and we'd pivot to option C, but I started getting a lot more value from their feedback when it was structured and when it was guided, versus asking them open- ended questions for them to sort of in the moment too.
MATT BLUMBERG: Narrow the ask. I love that.
Matt Glotzbach: There you go. Well, and make it specific. Give me feedback on X, not what do you think about X? Or I want to go, I want to go right. Here's why I don't want to go left. Tell me, ive me your feedback on that.
MATT BLUMBERG: As opposed to where should we go.
Matt Glotzbach: Exactly. Exactly.
MATT BLUMBERG: I love it. Matt Glotzbach, thank you so much for advice on effective communications to make your board. I love your words. I use them all the time, a strategic asset that works for you.
Matt Glotzbach: Thanks, Matt. Good seeing you.
Your board is a strategic asset. Are you maximizing its value?
Effective communication is key to setting yourself up for success. Today on the podcast, Matt Blumberg and Matt Glotzbach, former CEO of Quizlet, discuss strategies CEOs can use to get the most out of the board.