February 3, 2021

Use Cases to Bolster Your Team: How to Leverage On-Demand Talent in Your Business

(This post was written by my colleague Bethany Crystal and originally published on the Bolster blog yesterday. While I am still trying to figure out what posts to put on this blog vs. Bolster’s blog since the blogs are pretty similar, I will occasionally run something in both places.) At Bolster, we believe that 2021 will mark the rise of the on-demand economy for executives. More than ever before, executives are seeking out roles that distinctly aren’t full-time for a variety of reasons – they’re in between full-time roles and want to stay engaged and meet a wide range of potential employers; they’re retired or semi-retired/post-exit and want to keep working, just not full-time; they’re fully employed but are looking for advisory opportunities to help others; or they are committed to the more flexible lifestyle that being an on-demand affords. As business leaders, you might be wondering how to take advantage of this trend and incorporate on-demand talent onto your existing team. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Let’s start with a quick primer on the distinct types of on-demand talent. Here are the four most common themes we see among our member network at Bolster: The Four Types of On-Demand Talent Interim: Someone […]

December 8, 2020

Introducing the Bolster Board Benchmarking Survey

Over the years,  I’ve had a list of nagging questions every time I’ve contemplated my board, but didn’t have anyone I could turn to who had deep, broad advice on this topic. Those questions were: How big should my board be at this stage?   How many independent directors should I have?  What is the right profile of an independent director?  How many options should I give a board member?  How do I find the best, diverse, talent for my board openings? That’s why Bolster is excited to announce the launch of our first CEO tool: Board Benchmarking. This application (which […]

December 1, 2020

The New Way to Scale a Board of Directors

As we wrote in Bolster’s Founding Manifesto, one of the reasons we started Bolster was to create a new way; a faster, easier, and more cost-effective way, for startup and scaleup CEOs to grow their boards of directors and make them more diverse. There’s a lot of research out there that the more independent a board is, the better it performs for companies — and that there’s a high degree of correlation between more independent boards and higher performing companies as well. There’s also a lot of research out there that shows that teams which have diversity of gender and […]

October 23, 2020


(Written by both my Bolster co-founder Cathy Hawley and me) I’ve attended two remote conferences, which Cathy dubbed “Zoomsites” — one here at Bolster and the Foundry Group CEO Summit.  Both hold interesting lessons for how these kinds of events can work well. We founded Bolster two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and our founding team had not met in person after 6 months of working together. Now, luckily, we’ve all worked together for many years, so we have a lot of trust built up, and have a very strong operating system which includes full team daily standups. Still, nothing […]

October 8, 2020

What Kind of Gig Economy Executive Are You?

(This post also appeared on Bolster.com). As we wrote in The Gig Economy Executive, the major societal trend to “gig,” or part-time/freelance work, has reached the C-Suite.  We created Bolster to help organize a talent marketplace out of what is mostly an informal economy today – one where VC- and PE-backed companies find trusted freelance executives and consultants from their networks.   In that earlier blog post, we wrote about the different types of on-demand executive work that C-level executives engage in:  interim, fractional, mentor/coach/advisor, project-based consulting, and board roles. As we’ve been building Bolster this year, we’ve come to appreciate […]

October 1, 2020

The New Way to Scale an Executive Team

(This post also appeared on Bolster.com) As we wrote in our Founding Manifesto, Bolster was started in part to create a new way for startup and scaleup CEOs to think about growing their leadership teams. Why do CEOs need help with this? CEOs of any company have too many things to do at all times. This is even more true at startups and scaleups, which by definition are more fast-paced, dynamic, CEO-driven, and thinly staffed. All those challenges point directly to the specific challenge CEOs have with their leadership team. Think about the journey of a company from a founding […]

September 24, 2020

The Gig Economy Executive

(This post, written by my co-founder Cathy Hawley, also appeared on Bolster.com) The gig economy is a labor market where short-term or freelance roles are more prevalent than permanent positions. It’s generally characterized by having independent contractors rather than full-time positions, but in some locations and for some types of roles, gig workers may be part-time or fixed-term employees. The gig economy that started with roles like artists, drivers and web designers is quickly expanding to include executive-level roles. There are  a few trends in today’s workplace that are driving this expansion. Startups and scaleups have more flexible, remote-friendly work […]

September 17, 2020

Bolster’s Founding Manifesto

(This post also appeared on Bolster.com and builds on last week’s post where I introduced my new startup, Bolster) Welcome to Bolster, the on-demand executive talent marketplace. We are creating a platform that is the new way to scale an executive team and board. We believe that startups and scaleups are not average companies. Their rapid growth means their appetite for talent constantly outstrips their budget — and that they can’t spend months searching for it. Their dynamic industries dictate that they keep pace with bigger and better funded competitors. Their leadership teams — the people and the roles — […]

September 9, 2020

Introducing Bolster

As I mentioned earlier this summer, I’ve been working on a new startup the past few months with a group of long-time colleagues from Return Path.  Today, we are officially launching the new company, which is called Bolster.  The official press release is here. Here’s the business concept.  Bolster is a talent marketplace, but not just any talent marketplace.  We are building a talent marketplace exclusively for what we call on-demand (or freelance) executives and board members.  We are being really picky about curating awesome senior talent.  And we are targeting the marketplace at the CEOs and HR leaders at […]

August 27, 2020

Startup CEO Second Edition Teaser: Thinking about Your Next Step

As part of the new section on Exits in the Second Edition of the book (order here), there’s a final chapter around you as CEO and thinking about what you do next.  I’ll start this post by saying, while am really happy with where I am now (more to come on that!), I am not happy with the way I handled my own “next steps” after the Return Path exit.  I did follow some of my own advice, but not enough of it.  I jumped back into the fray way too quickly. Some exits leave CEOs in a position of […]

August 20, 2020

Startup CEO Second Edition Teaser: Transition and Integration

As part of the new section on Exits in the Second Edition of the book (order here), there’s a specific chapter around handling the post-sale transition and integration process.   No two transitions are exactly the same.  If the buyer is a financial sponsor, you may have the same job the day after the deal closes that you had the day before, just with a new owner and new rules for you.  Sometimes you’ll stay on with a strategic buyer as the head of a division, or the head of your product.  Sometimes you leave on Day 1.  Sometimes you leave […]