Reboot Podcast Episode #164 – How To Be a Stable Board Member – with Aileen Lee & Brad Feld

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.


Aileen Lee

Aileen Lee

Founder of Cowboy Ventures

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Brad Feld

Brad Feld

Co-founder of Foundry Group & Techstars

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Episode Description

When markets are volatile and times are turbulent, being a VC can be a nerve-wracking experience. How should seasoned board members handle themselves when anxieties are high? In this podcast conversation, Jerry sits down with Aileen Lee from Cowboy Ventures and Brad Feld from Foundry Group to discuss how to be an effective board member in stormy times. This conversation offers much to think about if you’re a board member, new VC, or CEO.

Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

“The way we functioned internally was much less about worrying about anything in that moment other than how do we help all these companies that we’re investors in? How do I help all these CEOs who I’m on their board navigate through what is incredible anxiety in this moment for them?” – Brad Feld

“A really effective board member, arguably first and foremost, knows how to manage their own anxiety so that they can then be that stable mountain in a hurricane and be of service to people.” – Jerry Colonna

“I’ve actually seen investor board members block the right kinds of financings to keep companies going forward because they did not wanna take a write-down.” – Jerry Colonna

“A lot of VCs have a lot going on in their personal portfolios and they’re really anxious, but instead of actually putting it in a box and thinking clearly in their role, it’s like they’re projecting their anxiety onto founders and they’re just kind of asking a bunch of questions and not really thinking through the implications of the way that they’re showing up. And it’s not super constructive.” – Aileen Lee

“My personal philosophy is, if I’m in a board seat, my job is to do everything I know how to do to help the CEO be successful. Fundamentally, as a private company board member, in some ways I put myself in a position where I work for the CEO rather than the CEO works for me.” – Brad Feld

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity to reset boards right now and to kind of start over. Do you have a healthy board? How do you know? Are you measuring board health? How would you define board health?” – Aileen Lee

“What is the role of the board in building companies? What should we be focused on? How do we encourage the best possible behavior?” – Jerry Colonna

“How do you address the power dynamic of wanting to have a board that challenges you but makes you feel safe?” – Aileen Lee

“The board should be mirroring the company’s blind spots. From that perspective of not being in the day-to-day. But having this sort of uplifted here’s what we’re seeing in the world at large perspectives so that I can see the blind spots.” – Jerry Colonna

“When you’re that mirror reflecting the feedback, but the way you reflect it creates more stress and more anxiety and more frustration or it’s misheard because of the way that it’s reflected. I think that’s an important part of it too. And a lot of the boards I’m on over the years, I would say the mirrors are dirty.” – Brad Feld

Podcast Topics