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Leadership calendar    Apr 28, 2022

Electrifying Growth Episode 1: How to Use Your Board As A Strategic Weapon with Dawn Zier and Tricia Han

Edison Operating Partners Dawn Zier, former CEO of Nutrisystem, and Tricia Han, CEO of MyFitnessPal, sit down with Managing Partner and Host Chris Sugden for our first ever episode of Electrifying Growth: How To Use Your Board As A Strategic Weapon.


Dawn Zier, serial Board Director and former CEO of Nutrisystem, and Tricia Han, CEO of MyFitnessPal, join Managing Partner and Host Chris Sugden for our first episode of Electrifying Growth: How to Use Your Board as a Strategic Weapon.

So, that's the question: How? While success is not limited to one tactic, three main themes arose throughout their conversation: maintaining realistic expectations, taking advantage of your board members’ expertise, and investing in leaders.

Stay Realistic and Thoughtful

Growth is a balancing act. It requires enough optimism to persevere through the hard times but enough realism to keep you alert. What sets companies up for success, then? Setting and measuring goals is critical, but it’s just the start. You also need to look out for threats and risks.

Dawn explains, “You have to change the conversation from growing a certain percent to always being on the lookout for what can knock you out. Having a fighter instinct brings a different energy that you need.”

You also have to balance process and creativity when it comes to growth. You can’t reduce growth to a formula, but it can’t be pure intuition either. Flexible, clear processes allow for innovation guided by experimentation and advisors' expertise, like your board. 

Play Your Board like a K-Pop Band

Many organizations make the mistake of not taking full advantage of their board. Executive teams tend to see their boards as bosses to impress rather than advisors to learn from and miss out on a wealth of wisdom and expertise. 

Some organizations slipped out of this mode during the pandemic because no one knew how to handle the situation—the unknown forced conversations between executives and boards rather than one-way presentations. Many groups recognized how this dialogue led them to the meat of their issues quicker, helping them drive success. We think (and hope!) this shift will stick around, allowing companies to fuel their growth using the expertise of their boards.

Tricia has an incredible analogy for structuring your board strategically: a good board should be like a K-Pop band. Let us explain—K-Pop bands are very strategic. Every member plays a particular role, whether it’s as singer, rapper, dancer, or spokesperson. Just like a K-Pop band, each member of your board should bring unique skills or expertise. Keep an eye out for gaps in experience a new board member could fill.

Build a Strong Cultural Foundation

Growth requires a firm foundation: great people and a defined culture.

It’s critical to invest in your team early to equip them to drive outcomes, create a place people want to be, and eventually develop others. Dawn shares, "People work for companies, but more importantly, they work for leaders. We can't invest enough in teaching our leaders to be good mentors and developers of talent."

These building blocks also allow you to attract top talent as you grow. Candidates look for a strong culture that can be articulated—something that goes beyond fun perks to a mission the whole organization stands behind.

Are you ready to fuel sustainable growth? Subscribe to Electrifying Growth for more of Dawn and Tricia's advice on growing yourself, your business, and your people!

Chris is Managing Partner and Chairman of the firm's investment committee. He has been on both sides of the table as a successful entrepreneur. His experience includes leading sales, product, finance, business strategy and capital formation.