A rockstar board helped Julie Kantor overcome ‘startup isolation’

Julie Kantor

“Get On Board” will be spotlighting companies that have successfully
implemented advisory boards. If you have a successful advisory board
and would like your firm to be spotlighted in this column, please email
Marissa at marissa@successfulculture.com. If you are looking to
implement an advisory board, we would like to hear from you as well.
See below for more information.


This month, we spotlight Twomentor, LLC, a Washington-DC based
start-up that brings mentoring programs and curriculums to the private
sector. In the following interview, founder and CEO Julie Kantor talks about how her advisors have
championed her and helped her get her startup off the ground.

When did you first implement an advisory board?

Kantor: I implemented my advisory board on day one! I ran a board of advisors when I was at Network
for Teaching Entrepreneurship for 20 years, and it was a fabulous and invaluable experience to build with
brilliant, awesome leaders who taught me so much. I started bringing on Advisors for Twomentor right
away.

What prompted you to do so? Was it in response to a pain or challenge, was it in response to a growth strategy or goal, or was it a combination of the two?

Kantor: I believe that entrepreneurs stand on the shoulders of giants. Also, I am a people person, and I
needed some big brothers and sisters to launch my company with no real safety net. I reached out to
rockstar entrepreneurs and people with great knowledge of the HR, diversity and CSR space for
corporations. I view having advisors as part of our growth strategy. They help us understand our
customers’ needs, and help inform the business model. It also personally and psychologically helped me get
through the startup isolation. I felt incredibly supported, and my advisors got me up to bat for many
business opportunities.

How many people serve on your advisory board?

Kantor: We are now up to about 15 members. We are blessed with outstanding leaders. It is a diverse
group, with individuals that possess a multitude of skills and complementary strengths.

How did you recruit your advisors?

Kantor: One at a time. I have been building movements for the past 22 years, so I knew exactly whom to
pick. I have worked with every single one of my advisors, or they have mentored me on an issue integral to
the company over the last 12 to 24 months.

How often do you meet? What is the format?

Kantor: To be determined. Right now, I schedule one-on-one calls with our advisors, meet the local ones
in person, and send them reports on our progress to date. They do have a desire to connect and meet with
each other, so I am thinking through that strategy. We have an incentive model as well in our business
development strategy for advisors as we are building. None of them asked for it, but we insist unless it’s a
conflict of interest for them professionally.

What has been the single greatest benefit of your advisory board?

Kantor: The greatest benefit is that most of our advisors are both mentors and sponsors. A mentor talks
to you, advises you, and a sponsor is someone who talks about you behind closed doors, meaning they
champion you to others. I have access to exceptional advice at all times, and I know I have a team of
champions behind me.

What advice would you give to a CEO looking to implement a board?

Kantor: If you can open the space for others to build with you and help inform your strategy, don’t
hesitate to build a board. Make sure that they hold you accountable and have a very clear, customized
action plan on how they will engage over six to 12 months with your organization. Leverage your advisors
as much as possible.

“Get On Board” will also be spotlighting companies that are looking to implement advisory boards, and will
serve as an online recruiting center to connect potential advisors with these firms. If you are currently
building an advisory board, please email Marissa at marissa@successfulculture.com.

Marissa Levin is CEO of Successful Culture, a consulting firm that helps CEOs build excellent cultures. She is
the author of Built to SCALE. www.successfulculture.com. Contact her at marissa@successfulculture.com or
on Twitter @marissalevin. Contact us at editorial@smartceo.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A 20-year entrepreneur, speaker, & globally recognized growth strategist, Marissa Levin’s lifetime legacy mission is to educate, equip, & empower 100 million entrepreneurs & leaders with the skillsets and mindsets they need to reach their greatest potential.

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© 2020 Marissa Levin | Successful Culture