The travel business gets more competitive every day, with changing
market dynamics and a challenging economy demanding that every
agency be a “best-practices” operation.
But how can you get solid business and professional direction
without paying a lot for consultants and business coaches?
“Many of us don’t even realize we’ve got a constellation of
advisors, but we do,” said Kirby Tepper, a Los Angeles-based
organizational development specialist and executive coach.
And formalizing this group of friends, colleagues and
acquaintances has helped many businesspeople to be more effective
To start, Tepper suggests setting a few goals: “Ask yourself
about your core goal or value and if you don’t know what that is,
it’s time to ask!” And then, he says, look at your professional and
personal life to identify areas needing improvement.
Finally, determine whether you can take advantage of a board.
“You have to be willing to hear what they say and then act on it,”
Tepper said. “You don’t have to follow everything they say, but you
have to listen and check it versus your core.”
“I use my advisory board for everything,” said Mark Weinstein, a
Santa Monica-based real estate developer. “There’s nothing personal
or professional that’s out of bounds.”
Weinstein’s board has advised him on issues ranging from cash
flow analysis to business development and strategy, and tax
“They give me accountability, structure and motivation,”
Weinstein said. “They make me work.”
On the Board
And who are the right people to make up a board?
You could choose someone from your industry (Weinstein has a
fellow developer on his board), someone from an analogous
profession, or a person who has the skills and experience you
Their profession is less important than their character, Tepper
said. “You want to identify people who are knowledgeable, objective
and trusted. Someone has to be able to tell you ‘You’re about to
make a big mistake’ or ‘Try approaching that problem this way.’
Good choices might be a personal mentor, a friend who is dealing
with business challenges similar to yours or a fellow travel agent
whom you admire.
Asking for Help
For many people, the hardest part of the process is actually
forming the board. “You have to be willing to ask for help,” Tepper
Both Tepper and Weinstein advise asking honestly and sincerely
for help in developing yourself and your business. After all, they
note, you’re not asking for free legal advice or tax
The board members may benefit too.
“I’ve found that being on my board actually helps them with
their own challenges,” Weinstein said.
Either way, forming a personal advisory board is a great way to
improve yourself, stay competitive and manage both your career and
personal life. “My advisory board is one of the most positive
things in my life,” Weinstein said.
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