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Dawn Lepore has been on both sides of the relationship between CEO and board, as the former leader of and a past board member at companies including eBay, Walmart and New York Times. At GeekWire Startup Day on Friday, she shared her unique insights on this relationship, and tips for assembling a board.

Dawn Lepore at GeekWire Startup Day

The role of a good board is much more than nuts-and-bolts, Lepore said. “Obviously boards have a corporate governance role. I’m not trying to minimize that,” she explained. “But I think the most important roles that boards play is to help the company and most importantly the CEO be very successful.”

She continued, “People who are on your board will have an impact on your day-to-day life, and they’re going to have an impact on the vision that you have. So you really need to think carefully as you build that board. They can simplify your job, make your much job easier, make you feel supported. Or it can really complicate your job if the board isn’t working right, or you don’t have the right people, or the right skills or the right feeling on the board.”

Some of the highlights from her tips:

  • Don’t use your board seats as currency.
  • Go beyond your own network to assemble your board.
  • Make sure your board members are courageous and “confident enough to not talk.”
  • At least one person on the board needs to have walked in your shoes.

See the video above for Lepore’s full talk. Thanks to everyone who attended and supported GeekWire Startup Day. We’ll have more highlights from the talks in the days ahead.

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Editor’s note: Join us for our next big GeekWire event — the GeekWire Gala — on Dec. 4th at the Museum of History and Industry. Details and tickets here

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