All key leaders have them.

When you hear the term “consiglieri,” you might think The Godfather, but…

All CEOs have them (whether it be Fortune 100 or small businesses).

More aptly named “Trusted Advisors,” these professionals provide the much needed qualified feedback and guidance leaders require as they face a constantly changing and ever adapting marketplace:

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Have achieved the outcomes (whether personally or through other clients) as which the CEO is aiming.
  • Knowing where the landmines are. For every one thing you can account for (especially where change is involved) there are 10x you cannot see nor for which you can account.
  • Providing dispassionate advice and counsel (READ: they’ll tell you when your “baby is ugly.”)

But this isn’t – nor should it be – limited to heads of companies (large or small).

That time I decided to run 50 miles

Years ago, I decided to run an ultra-marathon.

Chalk it up to a mid-life crisis or my need for a severe challenge, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

I have a long history of endurance events (tracing back to my time in the Infantry), so I knew EXACTLY what I need to do BEFORE putting my plan together.

You guessed it…

Find other people who had successfully done what it is that I wanted to do (run 50+ miles without stopping)

And I found a GREAT resource through a Dartmouth listserv.

It became a community I relied on as I made this shift into relatively uncharted territory.

And one thing I kept reading, time and time again, from those who had done what I wanted to do (several times, at that), was this phrase they’d end each post on the listserv with…

“We are all experiments of one.”

The surface level message here is that we are all different. What worked for me may (or may not) work for you.

And, it was interesting to watch how people took the advice being shared and what they did with it.

Some what met with resistance. Some was met with disagreement.

Which leads me to the DEEPER message…

You have to TEST the advice you’re given.

Hence, “experiment of one.”

Which brings me back to the concept of a Trust Advisor…

Because, while CEOs have them…so should you.

You are not only an “Experiment of One,” but…

You are also a Business of One.

We’ve talked about vetting your advice and that, frankly, while most people are well intended, their advice isn’t qualified.

They haven’t been where you want to go…

As a result, they don’t know where the landmines are (hell, they don’t even have a map!)…

Moreover, they probably have a personal relationships with you so they aren’t going to give you dispassionate advice (READ: they don’t want to hurt your feelings).

That last part is the death nail.

What makes for a good friend or colleague, does not a GREAT Trusted Advisor make.