“If I ask CEO <x> about what your most transformational value on the board was over the last twelve months, what would she say?”
My firm also invests in other venture capital funds, known as ‘fund-of-funds’. I recently met a long-time friend from a great fund in enterprise software who I deeply respect. When I asked him the question, I had already asked two of her CEOs where she sits on their board.
It’s an interesting question: I did not ask “What are you good at” but about the actual value at the board-level. Sometimes what you’re good at is not what was the most transformational advice or insight you had on a board.
It was a fun discussion: one CEO echoed precisely what my friend thought she would say. The other CEO’s answer was a surprise, an area that my friend had not paid much attention to. We dug a bit deeper over the weeks, and it turns out that it was an area that she had so deeply internalized that she thought most of her advice would sound trivial or obvious. It is going to be a significant help for all her startups and their founders from now on.
Sometimes you just have to ask.