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More Music, Less News

Nov 22, 2020

Every edition of The Savvy Director works to connect you with some of the latest resources and thought leaders to stimulate your thinking and governance skills in becoming the most effective board director you can be. This week is no exception. We have a couple of great links for you on chairing a board.

We’re also highlighting a recently released report entitled High Performance in the Boardroom, from corporate director Tony Gaffney of Lambay Group Inc. with support from Canada’s Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and Odgers Berndtson. More than thirty of Canada’s leading board chairs and selected executives were interviewed. Stay tuned for details about that.

But first, I have a declaration to make. Consider it as the confession of a news junkie.


Confessions of a News Junkie

“I’m a news junkie.” There, I said it. To illustrate, we have a satellite TV service with over two hundred unique channels, but I watch fewer than six, of which three are cable news channels and two are sports channels. There’s also HBO and maybe a west coast channel for re-runs of Big Bang Theory to get a comedy fix before bed. Thank goodness the streaming services do not yet deliver news. But that could change soon enough.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sitting on the couch glued to the TV news all day long. It just seems to be turned on whenever I take a break from work, prepare a meal, or enjoy a coffee in the kitchen. I do try to watch opposing viewpoints to limber up my critical thinking skills, but it has all become a bit much.

I can get the day’s headlines in an online newspaper summary in the evening, or the next morning, or later in the day. It takes a fraction of the time and I don’t seem to miss much. The same ‘Breaking News’ story on television seems to run incessantly for 10-12 hours. When can we consider that the story has finished ‘breaking’ and is finally ‘broken’? You get my drift.

With the post-election period in the U.S., a light went on for me. It dawned on me that there was very little music in the house - or in the office - anymore. Instead, the TV news was on incessantly in the background, as repetitive as ever.

When did that happen? What changed, and why? Music of all kinds has been a mainstay in my world forever, and a little smooth jazz in the background has always helped me with creative writing. And now I seemed to be bumping into writer’s block more often. Coincidence?

Was this a Eureka moment? I don’t know about that, but I did make a conscious decision to listen to ‘More Music, Less News’. It’s only been a short time, but I can attest that watching less news has not left me less well-informed. And an unexpected side benefit of turning off the news has been a better night’s sleep.

I need to allow that scrolling through LinkedIn is a different form of information gathering, but it’s still time spent in front of a screen. So, I have a bit of work to do there.

The purpose of this monologue is simply to share my view that ‘More Music, Less News’ seems to work well. There’s lots happening in this pandemic environment, and I still want the news summaries a couple times a day. But now I have a greater sense of freedom that comes with being proactive in my free time, instead of wondering what I might have missed since last checking the news channels.

Now, let’s get back to why we’re here at The Savvy Director … to generate a governance connection.


Chairing boards

Boards differ markedly. Board leadership, by the chair, can make all the difference. As my mentor used to say, “If you want to find a good board, find a good chair.”

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) recently published an article entitled The COVID-19 leadership test: How effectively is your board chaired? I found this article, which deals with the work of the board chair during COVID-19 and beyond, and what a director can do in a situation where the board is not chaired effectively, to be one of the most concise narratives I’ve come across. It includes links to an article on the role of the chair as well as a position description. Thank you to the Aussies for sharing this work.

Rather than create a synopsis, in this case I think you will get more value by simply following this link and reading it for yourself: The COVID-19 leadership test: How effectively is your board chaired?

On the topic of chairing a board, The Great Chair - A Window on Effective Board Leadership is a new book by our ICD colleague, Brian Hayward. Inside you will find stories from the front lines, triage tools, checklists and lessons from the road by a very successful board chair.

If you aspire to chair a board or committee or you’re simply interested in ‘sharpening the saw’ of your own board leadership, check out The Great Chair. Click here to connect to the Books page of DirectorPrep’s Resource Hub, where The Great Chair is currently our feature book.


High Performance in the Boardroom

High Performance in the Boardroom, an exclusive report on contemporary best practices of high-performing boards in a time of accelerating change, has just been released by corporate director and author, Tony Gaffney of Lambay Group Inc. Tony and his team of advisors identified and then interviewed thirty of Canada’s leading board chairs and consulted select executives.

They held a discussion of emerging governance priorities and how they are responding to the challenges of the day. All industry sectors were represented along with Regulators and Government Institutions.

This report is all about governance in a period of accelerating change. It has insights that can make companies better. See what you learn from the synthesis of these interviews to find powerful application for your organization, no matter the size.

From what I’ve read so far, this is a very powerful report, thoughtfully researched by Tony and his team. Support was provided by Canada’s Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and Odgers Berndtson. Click here to read the report online, or download it in PDF or ebook format.


Your takeaways:

  • ‘More Music, Less News’ - Give your brain a different environment in which to think.
  • Take advantage of learning opportunities provided by global thought leaders in the board governance space. There’s no need to travel or do another video call when you have high quality reading information available from local authors and director institutes around the world.




Leave a comment below to get in on the conversation.

Thank you.


Scott Baldwin is a certified corporate director (ICD.D) and co-founder of – an online hub with hundreds of guideline questions and resources to help prepare for your next board meeting.

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