So Bored with Boards

By Lloyd Graff

Why should somebody work as a volunteer in an organization? My wife Risa and I discussed this topic last night as she was considering her last President’s message to the membership of the Association of Educational Therapists, a national professional organization she heads.

Risa has put her heart and soul into volunteering for this organization. She wants other people to follow in her footsteps. My basic orientation on other hand, has always been, “why should I spend my good time on some dumb organization?”

I have no tolerance for group meetings. They put me to sleep. I’ve never been part of an organization that interested me enough to get me to endure the endless prattle of group discussion. I know this sounds hopelessly arrogant, but I’ll admit to being a lousy member. And if you are a lousy member of a group, you will certainly be a terrible leader.

For me, one of the ugliest words in the English language is “committee.” To serve on a committee is to be sentenced to boredom. I may have a little ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), which educational therapists address in their work, because when somebody inquires if I’ll work on a committee for a charity or professional group, I run for the closest foxhole. To me a board meeting is a bored meeting.

Yet I realize that organizations like the Association of Educational Therapists, the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) and the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) do good work and rely on the members input. That means groups, subgroups, and committees. As a member of these organizations I freeload on their efforts. I pay my dues and tune out when members laud other members for the many hours they put in.

I believe the world is divided between the people who like meetings and process and chitchat and sociableness, and the aliens who prefer to be alone or go one-on-one.

If I have the choice of a meeting or Siena vs. Towson State in basketball on ESPN, I’ll choose the engagement with the TV.

Question: If you do boards and committees, what do you get out of it?

Photo from Aransa

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5 thoughts on “So Bored with Boards

  1. Deborah Rudy

    Lloyd, I agree that a lot of board meetings are boring, but that’s a failure of leadership. Board and committee meetings run properly have a beginning, middle, end and a point. When you feel passionately about something, you realize that you can’t make a difference all by yourself. By finding others that share that passion, you can marshall your energies toward a common goal. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Some people do participate on committees and boards because they like socialbleness, process and chitchat. That’s not me. And you know that’s not Risa, either. Except for big issues that I feel affect the greater good regarding things about which I am passionate, I am perfectly content to be the “alien” who goes it alone or one-on-one. In fact, I far prefer it. But about the really important things to me, I have step outside that comfort zone. I can’t allow myself to be like a part of a coral reef, just latching on to any old bit of nourishment that floats by.

  2. Al Bjork

    Lloyd, I completely agree with your viewpoint on the boards that you mentioned. Please don’t forget the non-profit boards that serve the less fortunate. Business owners and other people who want to get involved can be a great benefit to boards like this. From my experience, serving on these types of boards is very rewarding, even for an ADD, hate the group meeting kind of guy.

  3. John Belzer


    At the risk of sounding arrogant myself, I would suggest that you are describing the difference between givers and takers. I have little patience, myself, for endless “prattling”. But without givers, others don’t have the opportunity to take. It was over 25 years ago now that I was the president of my synagogue after spending several years on the board as a very young man. I’ve served on many boards since and advisory committees since, mostly industry-related.

    I hope to look back on a productive life and claim honestly that I gave more than I took.


  4. John Belzer


    I was disappointed to see my private email to you made public. It was purposely not posted on your blog. I’ll never again write to you privately unless I can know that you have clear boundaries. At this point, it’s obvious that you don’t.



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