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Moving from the ship to the lighthouse

Throughout my career, I have often thought of my work as being that of serving on a ship coursing the seas. Sometimes I was swabbing the decks. Other times I was fighting to keep the ship afloat in stormy waters. And, from time to time, I was simply able to stand on deck watching the well-coordinated work of my shipmates as we marveled at the glorious sea and sky surrounding us.

But, my role is shifting. While I’m still on the ship some of the time, my work as President & CEO of 1517 Media ends as of August 31. I will continue to work with the leadership team as President & CEO Emeritus, focusing on board member identification, recruiting, and on-boarding. And, I am privileged to assist other organizations in my leadership roles as an independent board director.  I also enjoy my mentoring/teaching roles as speaker, workshop leader and interim executive.

I have come to think of these Board Director and mentoring roles as being more akin to lighthouse keeper rather than shipboard captain. Both roles are vitally important, but they are very different.

I recently toured the lighthouse in Mukilteo, WA...just down the hill from where my husband and I live. On the wall was this quote from George Bernard Shaw:

“I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse.

They were built only to serve.

They weren’t built for any other purpose....”

As a Board Director, I try to keep this in mind. Lighthouses are simply built to serve. Lighthouses just stand, ever watchful, on beautiful days when the seas are calm and the sun is shining. But, their beacons shine brightly when the waves turn rough and the sky darkens; shining to help the ships avoid rocky shoals. And, when the fog rolls in making it difficult to see, lighthouse beacons are often accompanied by foghorns with their deep, non-anxious tone of warning.

While the analogy isn’t perfect, there is something of the lighthouse in the work of an excellent Board of Directors. Not the work of sailing, but the work of constant steady watching, guiding and, occasionally, warning of dangerous rocks or fog.

It is this “lighthouse keeping” work that I now find so fulfilling. Because of my passion for strategic thinking, cultural and financial transformations and the finding and nurturing of top talent for companies and not-for-profit organizations, I especially enjoy the work of being a Board Director. That passion and the contributions I try to make in these Board roles come from many years of leadership experience onboard corporate ships.

If you are interested in learning more about how my background and experience might assist your organization, let's talk!