The Advice Business

Sometimes it seems the advisors get more out it than the advisees

3 min read

Through the years I've had the privilege of serving on advisory boards and committees for government, academia, and industry. The work is unpaid, and sometimes there's a lot of it, but I've always gotten a great deal from it—working with the best and brightest is a crash course on important new technologies and strategies for using them. Sometimes, though, I wonder what's in it for the recipients of my advice. Are the benefits for them commensurate?

The answer depends a lot on their expectations, which often reflect a blend of objectives. If you're asked to join the board of the local opera, it's clear that you're expected to contribute personally, and they don't want you to tell them what to stage. But other charities may have goals that are less obvious, and while you may be assured that they're looking for expert advice, you may discover that donations are what they really expect.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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