Episode 133:

Cultivating Appropriate Responses to Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues, with Helle Bank Jorgensen

Jul 14, 2021 | Boardroom Bound

Digesting ESG and how it relates to the boardroom today.

About this episode

Now more than ever, ESG concerns have been on the forefront of organizations minds. Tackling that with us today is Helle Bank Jorgensen, as she shares her expertise in the area of ESG, and how it relates to the boardroom today.


Helle Bank Jorgensen is the CEO of Competent Boards, which offers the global online ESG Competent Boards Certificate and Designation Program with a faculty of over 100 renowned international board members, executives and experts.

She has a 30-year track record in turning Environment, Social, Governance (ESG), Climate and Sustainability risks into innovative and profitable business opportunities. She has worked with many global Fortune 500 board members and executives, as well as smaller companies and investors.

Besides being a board member, she serves on:

·      His Royal Highness Prince of Wales A4S (Accounting for Sustainability) Global Expert Panel

·      The Non-financial Digitisation Working Group of the Impact Management Project (IMP);
·      World Economic Forum (WEF) Expert Network for Corporate Governance, Leadership, and Emerging Multinationals;
·      The Reuters Panel of Expert Judges for the Responsible Business Awards;
·      Canadian Climate Governance Experts – a Commonwealth Climate & Law Initiative.

She has served as the Chair of the European Sustainability Reporting Association (ESRA); the Global Compact Network Canada; Datamaran; and as a member of International IDEA Finance and Audit Committee; The European Policy Centre (EPC) Governing board; the Sustainability Advisory Panel of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and at the Sustainability Policy Group of the Institute of European Accountants (FEE).

Helle was the creator of the world’s first Green Account based on lifecycle assessment and the world’s first Integrated Report, the first integrated responsible supply chain management system, and was the principal organizer for the CEO/Investor-network for Business Ethics and Non-Financial Reporting. She led the improvement of investor communication for global companies and has worked on Natural Capital Accounting for IFC/World Bank.


In 2020 she was awarded the Global Impact Award and named one of “5 people in ESG to look out for”.  She is a regular keynote speaker and author of many thought-leading articles and books.

She is a business lawyer and state-authorized public accountant (CPA) by training and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Auditing.  She is a former PwC audit and advisory partner in Denmark and the US leading Sustainability & Climate Practices. 


In today’s episode, Helle helps us digest ESG issues facing boards today, as well as how companies are progressing in their preparation after the shockwave that was COVID-19. You won’t want to miss this episode of Boardroom Bound!


Click here to listen now! 



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Liked this episode? I would be really grateful if you’d take 30 seconds to leave an honest review in iTunes. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Plus, I love to give shoutouts on the show to everyone who submits a review. Just click here to review, tap “Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. 



Let’s Get Social! 


I absolutely love connecting with listeners on social media. I’m most active on LinkedIn. (And yes, I do personally post and respond to my accounts!)


This is a great way to hear my latest thinking, get the inside track on new products, and occasionally see a picture of my adorable toddler. 





















Speaker 1: (00:00)
Boardroom bound episode 132, transitioning from the military to the boardroom and the importance of networking with Larry Spencer. [inaudible]

Speaker 2: (00:42)
Hello and welcome to this episode of boardroom bound. My name is Alexander Lowery, and this is the podcast dedicated to intentional leadership in the boardroom. My goal is to give aspiring existing directors, the tips, tactics, and strategies necessary to transform your confidence and build a successful career as a board director. Quick reminder, all of today’s show notes@podcastatgordon.edu and in today’s show, we’re speaking with Larry Spencer. This is one of my annual fun episodes where I try to honor our military. And Larry is one of those rare people. Who’s a retired four-star general and he was actually the second highest ranking military member in the air force as the vice chief of staff long and stored 44 year career. Amazing story about how it started. And now he is successful board member on three boards currently, including Whirlpool, which is a name we would all recognize. And he’s going to be very honest and open about what that experience was like for him. And we’ll talk today about why our retired senior military members make incredible board members. Can’t wait to jump into the show today.

Speaker 3: (01:43)

Speaker 1: (01:50)
Before we jump into today’s show, I’d like to share a message from our sponsor about director certification. Want to join your first board, or are you looking for additional board seat opportunities in either scenario, be sure to be disciplined in your approach now through the becoming an exceptional board director, candidate coaching and certification course, to get both modern board director, candidate, packaging, and modern board operations knowledge integrated within one program, remember the key to landing additional or your first board seat is in your packaging, make the effort to do it right. Program graduates all sorts of see they’re globally recognized. International board director competency designation. Upon course, completion is designed for individuals and groups. You can learn more at Bitly slash IB DC dash D that’s Bitly B I T dot L Y slash IBC DC dash D. And now let’s jump into the show.

Speaker 3: (02:45)
[inaudible] Larry Spencer. Welcome to the boardroom bound

Speaker 4: (02:54)
Podcast. No, thank you so much. Well,

Speaker 2: (02:58)
It is an honor to be talking with you today and I probably should’ve said retired general, Larry Spencer. So, uh, this is one of those special episodes. I get to do a few of these a year where I get to speak to, uh, in many ways, people that have done great and good work for our country and have done that in the military services beforehand. And now we’re doing that in a boardroom. So it is an honor to spend some time with you today. And we’re going to talk about your story. And I want people to think about this generally, in terms of our service members, the incredible skill sets that they bring. Certainly the leadership is something we all know, but how that translates, what at whatever point they leave the service back into say the civilian world, what that can do. And so we’re going to use some of Larry’s story to talk about that today. But of course, this is one of the special times a year, where are we think even more about the people who sacrificed so much for us? So, Larry, what I would love to do just at the beginning is you had a long and storied career in the air force. Can you talk about that before, because then we’re going to talk about how some of that experience translates across and how you got into the boardroom.

Speaker 4: (03:58)
Sure. I’ve got, uh, I, uh, introduction to the military was certainly, uh, uh, unanticipated and, and a bit unusual. Um, but when I graduated from high school, uh, I was a little bit lost. Wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I, uh, I was the oldest, uh, in my family of five siblings. Um, my mother had not graduated from high school. My father was an enlisted man in the army. Uh, and so I was there first dealing with college, uh, and neither of us had any experience or quite knew what to do. I had a ton of football scholarship offers, uh, but really didn’t know how to navigate that. And to be quite frankly, Frank with you, I was, uh, living in my parents’ basement, uh, after high school, uh, and found myself in a mall over in Maryland. Uh, I was born and raised in Southeast DC and, uh, I walked by an air force recruiter’s office and I saw the airplane pics.

Speaker 4: (05:05)
Uh, and so as I was looking at the pictures, the recruiter stepped out, um, asked me to come in. I said, Hey, I’m really not interested in joining the military, but I said, well, come on in anyway. So I sort of stumbled into his office and about an hour later, when I stumbled out of the, I was in the air force, uh, and that’s kinda how I started. I started out enlisted, uh, joined the air force would not one semester off college, uh, got into the military and, uh, completed my degree at night. Uh, got my commission. And then once I became a, an officer and a second Lieutenant, uh, sorta worked my way up to a four-star general was it was, uh, a career path that I wouldn’t offer it to others to emulate. Uh, but certainly one has been, uh, been interesting. Now

Speaker 2: (05:51)
I’ve got to jump in here. I think you’re being a little humble. I want to, I want to make this clear for our audience and I certainly hope that recruiter got a nice bonus because you were tired as a four-star general. And it is a very small number of people that make that rank and 44 years a distinguished career in the service. I believe you were also, you were the vice chief of staff, so that’s the second highest ranking military member in the air force, right? So this is not, you made it pretty far up the ladder here. So I think that person who convinced you, you’re looking at the pictures, why don’t you come in anyway? I hope he got a metal himself, because that was an incredible career that you had.

Speaker 4: (06:23)
Yeah, that’s that I never thought about it that way, but you’re right. Uh, vice chief of staff, uh, it was probably, uh, you know, a, I couldn’t think of a better way in my military career, uh, working with the chief of staff, um, to provide leadership for the entire air force. Uh, it was just an incredible experience. Um, and, and something that I will treasure my entire life.

Speaker 2: (06:49)
Now, I think what many people don’t understand, I’d love if she’d said some light on, when we think about some of the most, um, you know, senior officers in the military, they’ve had varied careers because no one stays in one role for 40 years, you get moved around quite a bit for a lot of good reasons. For example, you were the first air force officer to serve as the assistant chief of staff in the white house, military office. Uh, people are often regularly working in the white house or Congress or different places for having teaching at one of the academies. So there’s so much different background experience that you get within say the larger wrapper of the air force. And I, I don’t think most people really fully understand sort of the wide varied experiences that someone might come out with. So perhaps you could talk a little bit about, I imagine being in that role probably changed some of your perspective, communication skills and attributes like that.

Speaker 4: (07:35)
Yeah, that’s a great question. A great point because folks, I think when they think about the military, they think of, you know, military movies they’ve seen and, you know, people in uniform and, and which is okay, but the military, if you step back for a second, it’s not all that much different from a civilian career, uh, in that the military. And in my case, the force, they had, you know, the pilots and they had the engineers and nurses and doctors and lawyers and people that do payments and drove trucks. And you name it. I mean about every, uh, career area you can think of within the military. Uh, in my case, I sort of started out in financial management, uh, and then jumped around a little bit from Barnett financial management in, into logistics, supply chain, uh, major repair and overhaul. And then of course, once you reach a certain grade, you kind of transitioned into a general leadership.

Speaker 4: (08:34)
Um, so I’ve had the opportunity to command a, a wing, which is essentially an installation, if you will, uh, and then command it just about every level, uh, including, uh, being the, uh, the, uh, CFO for the largest, uh, command in the airport. So you’re right. The, I got to jump around and do a lot of neat things like working in the white house, uh, which involved, you know, of the camp, David and, you know, flying on air force one and, you know, interacting with the president and his staff. And it was just, just a wonderful opportunity.

Speaker 2: (09:09)
And w I also want to put a little context around, imagine this as a business. So the air force has hundreds of thousands of employees. It has, I lose track of the tens of billions, of hundreds, of billions, of dollars. So everyone who’s leading in these major positions is basically running what what’s called a fortune 500 company. Perhaps these are very large organizations that you’re leading and Larry, if we take all of that, and obviously you had an incredibly storied career, you’ve received so many different awards, like the defense distinguished service medal, the air force, distinguished metal, the defense superior service medal Legion of merit clearly have been recognized as one of the best of the best coming out of the military. And at some point you were thinking, well, this may eventually end, and after 44 years, it did give us a sense what that looked and felt like for you leaving that career, that you’d never anticipated based on the story you told us so far and thinking about what life was going to be like perhaps outside in the

Speaker 4: (10:02)
Civilian world. Yeah. I was, uh, like many, uh, senior military folks. Uh, and I hate to admit this, but I’m being honest here. I was completely unprepared, uh, to transition out of the military, not because I was worried about separating or retired from the air force, but, you know, as the vice chief of staff, I worked, uh, seven days a week essentially, and, uh, late night. And so I literally worked, uh, up until, uh, the day I retired. So there wasn’t a lot of time to think about what I was going to do. Um, my plan was to take some time off a couple of months, so to decompress and think about what I wanted to do in the future. I had attended position courses, uh, that sort help you think through what you want to do. I attended the, a CD course, a battlefield to boardroom.

Speaker 4: (10:58)
Uh, and the reason I did that was because I did get to serve on active duty on a couple of boards. So one for the, uh, defense commissary service and the other for the army air force exchange service. So I had board experience. I thought it was something that I would like, I had a financial background. So I thought I could offer a good perspective to, to on a board, particularly given my leadership. Um, so the transition was interesting, uh, but, uh, I, I have to admit, I was a little bit lost initially until I got my, my people leave me.

Speaker 2: (11:32)
Why don’t we just spend a few minutes helping everyone understand a bit more about the military versus in the civilian life sort of example, in this show, we talk a lot about networking and how important that is. And let’s say you are targeting. I want to be in the financial services industry. There’s these certain types of companies might be a mutual fund board. It might be a bank others that you might want to be on. Okay. These are the type of people I need to go meet. It’s a little different when you’re in the military, right? Of course you want to meet the right people and to know who they are. And I’m sure that the two star generals are trying to connect with the four-star generals, et cetera, but it’s not like you’re necessarily positioning yourself in the next quarter you’re going into, that’s not necessarily always how it works. So give us a sense what it looks like being in the military, what networking means there so that we can all wrap our heads around it and compare it to in contrast to the civilian world.

Speaker 4: (12:17)
Yeah. Well, networking is obviously a sport and whether you’re in the military or not, I think networking in the military is a little bit different because you generally get promoted in the military, uh, based on your record of performance and potential to achieve that next grade, based on the assessment of your supervisors and commanders. Uh, I have found outside the military, that networking is, is, is almost as important if not more important than your actual performance or reputation, because as you know, well, getting on a board is not something where you, you fill out a resume in the health plan and they give you a call and tell you to come in for an interview. I mean, you really, the best way to, to, uh, secure a position on a board is to, is through networking and having someone that, you know, that will open some doors for you in my case, that’s exactly how it works.

Speaker 4: (13:18)
Uh, you know, when I retired, I was struggling trying to figure out this whole board process and how one gets themselves on a board. Um, I contacted the, you know, the head hunter agencies that knew me. I had interviewed with a couple, but I, you know, it was a slow process. And, uh, during my career I had, uh, I was fortunate enough to meet and become friends with, uh, Cheryl Sandberg. Who’s the COO for Facebook. And I shot her a quick email and said, Hey, Cheryl, I’m, you know, I’m new at this. You’re a lot more experienced at this than I am. Um, you know what I should do, you know, how do I, how do I make this work? How do I get my foot in the door? Uh, she turned around within an hour, uh, emailed to several of her contacts. And a week later I found myself sitting in Chicago interviewing for the Whirlpool, uh, board, uh, which I got selected for. So again, this networking, uh, you know, having someone that can open a door for you, someone who can bounce for you, uh, that knows who you are. And, uh, it’s just really, really critical.

Speaker 2: (14:29)
And we should talk about that because unfortunately, most of us don’t probably have Sheryl Sandberg on speed dial, but clearly that’s a good, good sense of what your network is in the circles that you’re running in. And I think that you you’ve really hit the nail on the head. In some ways we all need some mentors, we need some good guidance. Some peers, people are going to help us out. There are the people you want to talking with. The executive recruiters of course, are key going to the different trainings, but at the end of the day, you have a background and an experience, a position of authority, and that will resonate with certain realizations, but you still need someone to open the door for you. So Whirlpool, great first board to land on, right. Fantastic background and experience. So if that was how the first one came about, that’s not the only board seat you have, give us a sense of how the other ones happened.

Speaker 4: (15:11)
Yeah. So, uh, I’m on the board of the triumph group, uh, who, uh, is ports, the aerospace industry, obviously having been in the air force, I had an aerospace background, uh, but once again, I knew someone who was on the board, uh, and they actually contacted me and asked me, was I interested in taking on another board? And I was at the time, um, and the Seminole Lee with the painted a national board that produced specialty for the aerospace industry. I had a friend that was on the board, who I had worked with on eight on the triumph group of all things, uh, and they were looking for a board member. And so she asked me, would I be interested in joining that board? So it’s really been all pretty much all personal contact, personal, uh, relationships, networking, uh, from people that know me, that I’ve worked with me, uh, that, that got me the opportunity to at least, uh, go compete for the position.

Speaker 2: (16:14)
And I, I’m going to guess here, and you can tell me if this is right or not. Once you had that first major board, like a Whirlpool on your board resume, the conversations probably begin to change, right? You’re, you’re in the space, you know, what’s going on. It probably raised her profile a little bit. Do you feel like it was a bit of a different process after that? Or did it feel exactly the same as it did the day before that board ship happened?

Speaker 4: (16:35)
There was no question, no question about it, boys, to get boards. And so, uh, once you’re on a boat, you’ve got experience, uh, you become really valuable to other boys because not only of your experience, not just your experience sitting on a board, but you have a perspective of how other than maybe in other industries operate. And you can bring that experience that you have to, to new boards and to help them grow and best practices and things you learn on the board. So clearly being an experienced board member makes you a really valuable commodity to other bullets. And to be honest with you, uh, I have been asked since then, uh, since my last board to join a couple of other boards, and I’m just not able to, I’m working full time. I just don’t have the time, but, you know, once you get on a board and folks hear about you and your name gets out, uh, then the situation changes quite a bit.

Speaker 2: (17:34)
So Larry, we talk on this show a lot about each person needs their own brand, their own position of authority, what they’re known for. And we can probably all pretty easily wrap our heads around, okay. Someone retires as a four star general from a military service. Okay. They might be an expert in like geopolitical risk, uh, risk management in general, uh, could be aerospace if you’re coming out of the air force, for example, a couple of sort of different areas in the cybersecurity, something like that. And you’re okay. That’s great. You hang your hat on that. And I imagine many of us do, okay. You know what, Lockheed Martin organizations like that, some of the ones you’ve talked about, Hanes triumph out, good places that have that fit and record it. And those are natural, but Whirlpool’s a very different piece. That’s not going to feel very military does.

Speaker 2: (18:14)
We could argue that they produce machinery and some of the things are related to that, but just good business sense, I think is a good value. And to some extent, um, the importance of the network and we’ve talked about as good, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Because when I think about boardrooms, they require integrity leadership. Passion. To me, this is the fabric of military leaders. And this, when someone leaves from, you know, being a military flag or general officer, they have this in spades. And I don’t know that every organization naturally thinks, oh, when I think about the diversity of stuff I want to bring in, we’ve traditionally looked at gender, um, you know, ethnicity, race. But to me, veteran status, especially someone who’s made it to the senior ranks. They’ve probably worked all around the world with different sorts of people. They bring a different mentality. And I wonder if, if almost, if you were speaking to some of these, say the executive recruiters who are listening to our show or people that are on boards already leading nom gov committee, listening to show how they should begin to actually think about people from the military who might be of so much value to their organizations.

Speaker 4: (19:17)
Yeah, there’s no question about it. Uh, so when I was interviewing for the Whirlpool board, um, one of the things I did in preparation was I did some study about the company and one of the things that really impressed me, uh, among being the largest appliance company in the world, their, their integrity, uh, the way they did business, the CEO at the time told me that, uh, you know, one of his mantras for the company was that there was no right way to do a wrong thing. Uh, th th they were, they are very honest, they’re very forthright. Uh, and they’re really committed to providing a good product, both at a good price. Uh, and so that, uh, that sense of integrity, that sense of service, um, to make sure folks have with the need to conduct their lives really drew me to the company.

Speaker 4: (20:08)
But I think vice versa, I think drew me to them because they knew I had the same, the exact same, uh, character traits, the exact same, uh, focus on mission, the focus on integrity, honesty, uh, doing the right thing. Uh, and so, yeah, I, I can’t imagine if I were setting up in company, uh, regardless of the industry that I would want to have one of more former military on my board, just for those reasons, the leadership experience, uh, the, the ability to stay calm and work through crises, the experience working overseas and with international partners, it’s just such a good fit. Uh, and quite frankly, you know, I just enjoy, uh, all of my boards sitting through the meetings, listening to the challenges, being able to talk to the folks on the board, being able to talk to a CEO, the, my experience, my advice, and work through issues with them. It’s just to me, uh, one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had. And I think having served in the military for so long, uh, it, it prepared me for those roles.

Speaker 2: (21:20)
It’s interesting the way that you described it there, because when I think about an organization and the types of, you know, sort of well-rounded people that they want to have around the table, I love it. He talking about like leadership under pressure, right? The ability to manage those situations. I think about things like organization, global strategy skills, um, you know, courage, decision-making abilities. And to me, the, the people that are coming out who’ve led our military through the ups and the downs and places all over the world that we wouldn’t even want to talk about. It’s incredible to think how much that is needed in organizations. When you think about all the terrible headlines we’re seeing today, where corporations are struggling or boards are struggling. And I imagine there’s a bit of, um, language, uh, that needs to be figured out like TLAs. We love our three-letter acronyms perhaps in the business world, but so does the military, right? So there’s a different language being learned. There’s a learning curve, but I imagine there’s probably a, sort of a 50, 50 split there’s stuff that you are bringing from your backend experience translates across directly, but it’s probably a lot of fun coming to those new opportunities, new situations where you’re growing and developing in different ways.

Speaker 4: (22:23)
No, absolutely. And in fact, I smile when you talked about acronyms, because I thought that was a creature of the military, and clearly it is not, I mean, every boy that I’ve joined, I’ve been blown away by the acronym, but I had to figure out, uh, in the meeting. Uh, but you’re right. Uh, so some of it is, you know, natural leadership, uh, experience that I have my financial background that I bring to the table, but a lot of it is own learning and, and, and, and understanding how this company operates and what he feels is, and, and, you know, how can they become more efficient and how can they raise revenue? How can they take care of their people and on and on and on, but I’ve done my entire career, take a company like Whirlpool as an example, that was a really good transition for me because Whirlpool has a very large, uh, veteran presence in their company.

Speaker 4: (23:20)
Uh, they’ve got, you know, a hundred thousand employees, but the cab, a lot of those are veterans. And so I was only on the board a a month or so when this veterans group, uh, within Whirlpool asked me to come speak and one of their, uh, one of the functions they actually, uh, which was interesting, I think they go home for homeless veterans, of course, Whirlpool provides the, uh, appliances. And so they asked me to come, uh, and, and that led into, uh, sort of a connection with the veterans on, in their company. So it was a really smooth transition, and I was very happy to see, not only with Whirlpool, but with the try improve and with pain, most, every company and industry we have, there are a good number of veterans in those companies until there’s an automatic sort of kinship, if you will, that you strike up when you, when you become a board member, because the folks that are working there feel like they have a connection on the board and someone that understands who they are and what they stand for.

Speaker 2: (24:23)
That is a fascinating way to describe it. And I love that. So I’ll go to a place that I naturally tend to think I’m the lifelong USA member. And when I look at say the USA board, I, I get, imagine very few organizations that would have more former military people. And I know there’s, for example, a at least an unwritten requirement that I’d have a four-star general retired from each of the four services, plus they use, they have many more apart from that. Uh, but to think about the people within your organization and can they see themselves on the board, we would tend to normally think about that by gender or by skin color, some different ways, but also, you know, does this organization respect and appreciate and understand me and seeing someone who has, was like yourself, Larry, who has served in the military up there at the highest levels, that must be inspiring for many of them. Very exciting.

Speaker 4: (25:09)
Yes. I agree the way I have a lot of friends on USA board, um, and, uh, I’ve been a member of USA for years, but, um, yeah, I agree. And, uh, you know, I think one of the things that, uh, there was a challenge for me when I made my transition, not only to boys, but to full-time employment was key. Think about this. Now, a person like me who entered the military when they were 18 years old, just barely 18 Franklin. Um, I’ve never had an experience with interviewing for a job or filled out. I didn’t have a resume. Um, I didn’t, I didn’t understand how to negotiate salaries or, uh, or, you know, I was, I wanted to get on the board. I didn’t, I didn’t think about, well, wait a minute, before you volunteered to be on the board, you met him, do some, some due diligence to make sure that’s a board that you want to be a part of it and that, and that you think you will be compatible with.

Speaker 4: (26:01)
And what about the other board members, you know, are you all going to get along and, and, you know, work as a cohesive group? So there’s a lot to be done. Uh, when thinking about a board membership, frankly, when I retired, I was looking for a lift. I wanted somebody to hand me a list of boards and jobs that I could just look at that list and pick the one I wanted. Uh, it just doesn’t work that way, as you know, I mean, you really have to force yourself to, to narrow down, you know, what type of boys are you interested in? Where do you think you can contribute? You know, in every interview that I’ve had for a board, one of the first questions I asked is CEO or chairman of the board is based on my background and experience. How do think I can contribute?

Speaker 4: (26:44)
Because to me, it’s not about sitting on a board, it’s about being a valued member of the board and contributing to the success of the company. Uh, and, and so my, because I think any board members focus, how can you contribute? How can you make that, that company in that board better? Uh, and so I, I think sometimes paste get on a board. We really don’t think about, okay, wait a minute. Now this backup a second, what are you going to do once you get selected? How are you going to contribute? So I love to think about, I think when you’re thinking about, uh, getting on a board, I like

Speaker 2: (27:19)
That. And so Larry, if we went back in time, five, six ish years to when you were retiring, or perhaps you’re speaking to some other senior officers that are getting ready to retire now, and they’re thinking about the next steps, the guidance, I would love to hear the guidance that you would give, right. To some people listening the show today, thinking you just talked about so much there that as a business person, I would take for granted that I would know how to do a, know what to do, but again, very different world when you’re moving to civilian life. So what would you do differently or what would you be advising people today or the first couple of things that they should be doing in this large process of wanting to land a board

Speaker 4: (27:52)
Seat? Yeah, well, the course battlefield to boardroom was very helpful because it helped me understand how boards operate and, and about the committee and how the whole process works. But one thing I did, I think that was most valuable was, and I’ll just use that network network to work. I mean, I found, I made a list of all of the former military folks that I knew they were on board and I called every one of them. I made an appointment with them. I went visit to them at their office or their home, and I sit down with them and I said, okay, tell me how this works. How do to operate what I do. So initially I, I was gathering information, uh, to, because again, I didn’t have this background. So I think it’s important to prepare yourself through study, uh, through networking. Uh, and then as best you can try to figure out, you know, where would you, uh, where would you offer the most value and what industry and what types of boards try to narrow that down and then figure out, okay, how do I get my foot in the door, uh, for one of those opportunities, do I know anyone on the board?

Speaker 4: (29:05)
You know, they’re easy to Google and find the board members. What I would do is every time I Googled a company, I was looking at the board members to see if there was someone there I knew. And in other cases there was, so I would just call them up and say, Hey, tell me about this board. You think I would be a good fit? Do you have any openings coming up soon? Um, so again, I think combination of networking and research, uh, and frankly of being honest with yourself and, and figuring out where you can most contribute, uh, I think all of those things together, uh, should go into a board search

Speaker 2: (29:40)
To compliment you there because something that you did, and even if it wasn’t thought about in this manner is sort of inside baseball in a very great way. So when we talk on this show, there’s a big difference between say public company, private company, board seats, and generally public company, board seats are never advertised. There’s a lot of reasons for that. So the ability to call someone up who’s on the board, who’s a trusted confidant, and you can talk about your candidacy. Is there something come up? Would I be a fit that is great knowledge that most people will never have, and that alone is changing your perspective of it as a viable candidate for an organization. So kudos for you for figuring it out. And that’s something I would certainly advise for everybody. I agree with you. If you know someone that’s a great person, you should be talking to, they should be someone who’s an ally of yours, a supporter of yours.

Speaker 2: (30:25)
That’s invaluable information. And Larry, I’m just smiling, sitting here thinking about how fortunate we are to have you leading for the front of organizations today, right? So there are so much going wrong in the world at so many times. And it’s wonderful to know that the leaders that we have trained up, and I can’t think of any organization apart from the U S military service group that are a great at training, great leaders, that we have them in the boardroom now bringing the right skill sets and the right mentality and helping all of them to be the organizations we need them to be because that’s great for our society. So we’re delighted to have you there. And I would love as we begin to think about how we wrap up this special episode, when you look back now over that experience, the last five or six years, and then you look forward, we’ve talked about some of the things that were troubles, uh, challenges, uh, hardships, things that were not in your wheelhouse, but you’ve, you’ve moved up that learning curve pretty quick. When you look out over say the next five years or so, and you think, okay, I’m going to continue to doing this board stuff. This is great fun. What is the next sort of growth opportunity for you as a board member?

Speaker 4: (31:25)
Well, great, great question. Um, so I kind of think of my professional life, uh, and in three phases, um, you know, phase one was, uh, was the military phase two, which I’m in now is probably the most challenging, uh, because I worked full time and I’m on three boards because phase three would be discontinued working full time and just, and just board work from that point forward or something similar to board work. Uh, and so what you have to face is so difficult is because if you’re fortunate enough to get a board opportunity, you have to be really careful about turning it down because you don’t know when that I’m doing is coming again. And so you and frankly, you’re going to work a little harder than you normally would, because again, you’re, you know, sitting on a boat is work. Most boys were four times a year, some six times a year.

Speaker 4: (32:26)
Uh, but there’s a lot of preparation for the, a of work in between. There are meetings between meetings. There’s a lot to know and understand and learn about your industry in your company. So there’s a lot of work put into that. So as I look forward to phase three, it would be a transition away from my full-time job and really more focused on work, maybe picking up another board or so, uh, and so I’m starting to look at that now, what, again, what types of bullets do I think I would be a value to? The other thing that people don’t like to talk about is, uh, you know, most boys have a retirement age and so you can stay on a board a long time generally, uh, but you can’t stay on boards forever. And so all of that has to be factored in with your own age and your own sort of, when do you want to retire, retire and make all that work together?

Speaker 2: (33:22)
Well, Larry, it was great advice today, and it was wonderful hearing about your wildly successful military career. Thank you for your service. And we’re delighted to hear what you’re doing in the boardroom now and how much you’re enjoying that. We appreciate having you on the show and thank you so much for your insights and helping all of our audience to be boardroom

Speaker 4: (33:40)
Bound. Well, thank you so much for having me. I wish your audience, the best of luck, uh, board work is rewarding. It’s enjoyable, uh, and it’s fascinating. And I wish everyone looked at listening. Uh, we’ll get on the board that a board that they really enjoy and that they can contribute to.

Speaker 2: (33:59)
And Larry, that is the official end of the recording. That’s it for this episode of boardroom bound, I really enjoyed chatting with Larry Spencer, and it was amazing to think this young 18 year old guy who wasn’t really sure whether they wanted to be in the military was talked into it. And it led to a 44 year career becoming a four-star general of which there are very few in the world and incredibly high rank, and obviously a wonderful person who was very thoughtful that was career next steps, honest today with his struggle of which we can all learn. When we think about how we think about our own individual skillset and brand, how that translates across how we tap into our network. And of course, a wonderful story to hear about why our military men and women are such successful people when they translate back into the civilian world. And I would encourage all of us. I can’t wait to share more stories.

Speaker 3: (36:54)