Hearst's Tracy Yaverbaun chooses board of directors as secret work weapon

Tracy Yaverbaun: the global vice-president, digital at Hearst Magazines International
Tracy Yaverbaun: the global vice-president, digital at Hearst Magazines International

Tracy Yaverbaun explains why she created her own board of directors to gain control of her life.

Doing an international role, living and commuting in London every day, can be enough to send the most positive Zen personality over the edge from time to time. Though I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as Zen. I always try to see the lesson in every situation. Even when trains are cancelled, flights are delayed and presentations crash.

For me, it’s the people in my life and the relationships I have fostered over the years that have given me a framework in which to operate and bring my whole self to everything I do.

The most sage advice I ever received was from an old boss at Facebook, Baroness Joanna Shields, who said: "Tracy, you need to treat yourself like a plc."

She shared with me why it is so crucial to surround yourself with people you trust, who you can share your goals with, who can support you, be objective and will always have your best interests at heart. So I created my own personal board of directors.

I have a chief operating officer, a chief technology officer and a chief spiritual officer to keep me in check and help me evaluate what’s actually important. But, crucially, I have a chief fun officer.

I strongly recommend that everyone has a couple of these people on their own board. Being the chief executive of your own life – taking true ownership and real accountability for everything you do – sounds simple, but it’s not.

In my experience, lack of personal accountability and ownership of actions can be the very thing that holds us back from our potential.

My board members are all friends and colleagues I have collected over the years. They have taught me so much and I admire them greatly. I am proud to sit on some of their boards and hope I can add value in return. 

Tracy Yaverbaun is the global vice-president, digital at Hearst Magazines International.

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