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In these contentious times, when almost every topic—even the weather—has become controversial, it is edifying to read about a merger that sailed through the shareholder approval process with near unanimity. On Tuesday, July 19, EMC shareholders voted overwhelmingly and without debate to approve a $62.3 billion merger into Dell, with 98 percent of votes affirming the deal, and almost as many approving golden parachute payments to EMC executives in the event of job loss post-closing. The deal received U.S. and European antitrust approval in February and is on track for approval from Chinese antitrust authorities in time for an October closing. The new company, Dell Technologies, to be chaired and led by Michael Dell, will be privately owned.

It’s almost August – a month associated with vacations in many parts of the world—and  a good time to contemplate the meaning of life from new viewpoints. As you break away from your everyday routine to view the big picture, be sure to give nonprofit board services some consideration. An educated guess would put the number of registered nonprofits worldwide at about 10 million—and in the United States alone there are 1.5 million charities, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. This includes about one million charitable organizations (501 c 3s), more than 100,000 private foundations, and nearly 400,000 other nonprofits ranging from chambers of commerce, to civic leagues, to fraternal organizations.

Last month when NACD joined the Global Network of Director Institutes (GNDI) to convene a “cyber summit,” the 200-seat event filled quickly with the key to the future: people—namely directors, chief executives, and information executives empowered to build corporate value and form a powerful bulwark against information destruction.

Open board seats represent potential opportunities for past military leaders. But for many, the question is, “What are my chances? Will I get on a board?” This blog offers encouragement to veterans who seek board seats and challenges boards to go beyond their usual networks to consider military leaders for that next open board seat.

Opportunity Awaits

Every year, most public company boards add at least one new director. The way board hiring trends are going, it won’t be long until two new faces may be the new rule. This opening of the boardroom offers new hope for those hoping to get a board seat – including military veterans.

Of all the career paths winding through the business world, few can match the prestige and fascination of corporate board service. The honor of being selected to guide the future of an enterprise, combined with the intellectual challenge of helping that enterprise succeed despite the odds, make directorship a strong magnet for ambition and a worthy goal for accomplishment.

I recently heard about a board that had developed a “career path” for its directors. Even before I knew all the facts, I gave it a thumbs down. From the sound of it, directors on this board were serving too long –long enough to make a “career” of their service. Also, the term “career” implied that the organization was knocking itself out keeping the directors happy, but I wondered if the company was putting enough focus on the other side of the equation—the board. True, it takes directors to make a board, but by focusing on directors rather than on the board, wasn’t this company ignoring the hardest question: Do we have the right people in the first place? 

When it comes to women on boards, the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) has come a long way, Baby, to quote an old TV ad for the Virginia Slims. The first issue of NACD’s original newsletter, Director’s Monthly, featured a Board of the Month – first American Savings and Loan. The board’s photo shows 15 directors, all apparently white males. This kind of board composition was commonplace in the late 1970s, and NACD’s membership reflected this fact. Flash forward to the present day, when most boards have diversity and the picture looks as quaint as a TV ad for smokes. How can a board grow in diversity? Here is the story from NACD, expressed as lessons learned for boards and for the individuals who seek to join them. 
 

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