Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Jul 13, 2021

In this episode of Nonprofit Architect, Travis talks with Mark Pfister.  His popular book, 'Across The Board: The Modern Architecture Behind an Effective Board of Directors,’ an Amazon best-seller with circulation in over 70 countries, has influenced a whole new generation of Board Directors.

Travis and Mark talk about setting up a Board, finding the perfect Board Members, and structuring a Board that will be successful.

Conversation Highlights: 

{00:48} About Mark Pfister.

{02:47} Background on Mark’s Board and what it looks like.

{06:48} The size and structure of a modern Board without wasting bureaucracy.

{12:05} Being a Chief Executive Officer, and what Mark’s organization looks like.

{17:34} When you have top-level guys, especially on boards, working on something they have no business spending time on? 

{25:02} Being challenged to ask uncomfortable questions, not being compliant.  

{28:24} What happens when you are stuck with a sudden emergency that knocks you off your feet.

{31:19} Be open to feedback. Once you have your mission have you checked your impact on the community? Are you meeting your goal? Do you have goals?

{35:15} How do you structure awards intentionally, and make sure you are starting your board or recreating your board with the success that you want to have sure? 

{40:58} Why having a marketing expert on the board is essential.

{42:03} Where do you find the perfect board members?

{46:49} Planning for the future and picking board members that will spread your message.

{49:42} Why Mark has worked on over 800 Boards.

{55:18} Advice for Board of Directors, preparing for the eventual changing of the guard.


Remarkable quotes: 

90 plus percent of their problems or inefficiencies are due to the fact they were not structured properly from the beginning. 

You must know where you came from to know where you are going. 

I think this is one of the biggest misses right now that a board is viewed as a hindrance.

20% of the time, as a CEO or Executive Director, I'm going to now put on a different hat and I'm going to ask questions 80% of the time and give my opinion or my input 20% of the time.

The maturity of that decision-maker's ability to allow for discourse, but not take it as an example as a personal attack on them.

A board director is not going to be comfortable going out and representing a program, that is not as impactful as it should be. 

Three components create the depth of the board.  The vertical component creates your expertise Influence. The horizontal component is your planes of congruence that create your character and then your coverage and balance create the depth of the board. If you can get those three areas balanced in some way, these boards are unstoppable. 






 Bio: Mark A. Pfister


With a strong focus in Strategy, Governance, and Technology / Cybersecurity, Mark A. Pfister is CEO & Chief Board Consultant of M. A. Pfister Strategy Group, an executive advisory firm that serves as a strategic advisory council for executives and Boards in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He is also Chairman & CEO of Integral Board Group, a specialized Board services and consulting company.


 Mr. Pfister is a 'Board Macro-Influencer' and his success has been repeated across a wide range of business situations and environments. He prides himself on being a coach and mentor to senior executives and directors.


 In Board Director circles, Mr. Pfister has earned the nickname 'The Board Architect.’ The overarching theme throughout his career has been his aptitude in leadership positions, passionate focus on people, unique governance models, and ability to create value for stakeholders through innovative business strategies and operational excellence.


 Michael Lorelli, Executive Chairman of Rita’s Franchise Company, has said, “Mark’s unusual combination of excelling at a macro and micro grasp of business, genuine interest in Governance, and ability to coach and mentor a Management Team make him a terrific Independent Director.” Mr. Pfister is a certified project management professional and frequently serves as an expert Project Executive, consulting on global projects in their initiation and operational phases, as well as programs requiring remedial focus to bring them back on track. He has deep knowledge and experience in Board design & operations, strategic planning, business transformation, technology implementations, decisioning processes, continuing education programs, executive coaching, and governance models.


 Previously, Mr. Pfister was CEO of Pro4ia, Inc., an international consulting and professional services company specializing in a wide range of technology solutions utilizing formal Project Management as a proven and repeatable delivery method. With a Fortune 50 client list, Pro4ia was Citibank's Nominee for Crain’s Magazine 'Entrepreneurship of the Year' Award in 2005. He simultaneously served as CEO of Onit, Inc., a national sourcing company specializing in placements for all levels of technology skill sets.


Mr. Pfister was also the National Program Office Leader for American Express leading some of the largest technology transformation initiatives in the company’s history. He served as a Licensed Engineering Officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine, holds a B.S. from the State University of New York Maritime College in Facilities Engineering, and completed Harvard Business School's Executive Education Program for Board Directors.


Mr. Pfister is the creator of the ‘Board as a Service’ (BaaS) engagement model, an industry he is credited with inventing. He is a Master Speaker and conducts national speaking tours, lectures, and seminars focused on effective leadership, strategy, Board architecture, becoming an exceptional Board Director candidate, professional project/program management, and entrepreneurship.


 His popular book, 'Across The Board: The Modern Architecture Behind an Effective Board of Directors,’ an Amazon best-seller with circulation in over 70 countries, has influenced a whole new generation of Board Directors.


 Mr. Pfister is a proficient Board Director and CEO with experience across multiple industry verticals. He is typically the Chair, or a member of the Strategic Planning Committee, Governance Committee, Technology & Cybersecurity Committee, and Nominating Committee. Mr. Pfister’s experience as a renowned Board Consultant, having guided and coached hundreds of Boards, Board Committees, and Board Members, additionally offers up unique and informed viewpoints to the companies he serves.


 He holds an Executive Masters Professional Board Certification through the American College of Corporate Directors (ACCD), is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute (PMI), holds a Global ESG Certification through Competent Boards, and holds a Certified Cyber Intelligence Professional Board Certification (CCIP) through the McAfee Institute.  





Nonprofit Architect Podcast Links  





Ultimate Podcast Guide

Subscribe and leave a review


Watch on YOUTUBE

Listen to these other great podcasts from Veterans.

Want help getting your podcast started?