Informal board of directors

Published 6:01 pm Monday, May 28, 2018


ear counsel and receive instruction; that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” Proverbs 19:20

The above passage from the Bible sheds light on my experience with Sam on a hot August day.    

Sam is a criminal defense lawyer from Alabama.   He grew up learning from the best lawyers in north Alabama and is serious about the work he does for people. I met Sam at Valley Hill Country Club in Huntsville over a decade ago. He was alone that morning, so I asked him to join our golf group for 18 holes.   As we rode together in the cart, the saying, “a person’s true character is often revealed on the golf course” came to mind. 

Golfers are competitive. Bad shots and losing holes can affect confidence level and sometimes generate anger. A person’s self-control, or lack thereof, can best be revealed on a golf course.   

While Sam was not a scratch golfer, he carried a 10 handicap.   But, he played terrible that day.   So, with my 16 handicap (or maybe higher), we were in a one on one battle. Sam remained calm and pleasant throughout the day.   

At some point between #7 and #9, I felt the need to seek his advice. As a young inexperienced lawyer, I was struggling with a strategic decision in a case that was surrounded by risk and uncertainty. So, I told him about my challenge and welcomed his thoughts.   

His response surprised me.   He said, “I don’t practice in Georgia, don’t want to practice in Georgia, don’t know any of your judges, prosecutors or the ‘lay of the land.’ I also don’t know the people in your community. My advice is worthless.” 

Great, I just wasted my time even asking the question. But, he was not finished. “Jason, your informal board of directors should be consulted here.”

I asked him what he was talking about. Little did I know that Sam would give me some of the best advice I would ever receive. Sam, who is a little older than me, created a group of close advisors years ago to consult when challenging decisions arose. In turn, each of them would consult Sam and the others when they faced challenges.

This, he said, was his informal board of directors. He told me there are four cornerstones that must be in place — complete trust and loyalty, find the best in their respective areas of expertise, weed out the “yes men and women” and decide.

Sam stressed the importance of praying for God’s guidance above all. 

Interestingly, Sam was the first member of my BOD. The BOD has had a huge impact on my life and the decisions I have made.