Lessons From The Algonquin Round Table
This week another New York landmark closed, the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel. Among this generation of singers who performed at the Oak Room over its three-decade history were Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall and Michael Feinstein. The Algonquin was already famous for its “The Algonquin Round Table.”
The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of “The Vicious Circle”, as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day from 1919 until roughly 1929. At these luncheons they engaged in wisecracks, wordplay and witticisms that, through the newspaper columns of Round Table members, were disseminated across the country.
Daily association with each other, both at the luncheons and outside of them, inspired members of the Circle to collaborate creatively. They advised each other. The entire group worked together successfully only once, however, to create a revue called ‘No Sirree!” which helped launch a Hollywood career for Round Table Robert Benchley.
The group was advisors to one and other. Franklin Pierce Adams was a newspaper writer, columnist, radio persona and went to the University of Michigan. We might best recognize one of his works, “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” and its famous line “These are the saddest of possible words: Tinker to Evers to Chance.” Heywood Broun newspaper writer and baseball fan, lifelong friend of Babe Ruth and Christy Matheson. Harpo Marx was a regular member, and advisor to others on the Roundtable.
“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”
— Erica Jong, American writer and feminist
Advice can be defined as an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc; A communication, especially from a distance, containing information.
An advisory board is a body that advises the management of a corporation, organization, or foundation. Unlike the Board of Directors the advisory board does not have authority to vote on corporate matters, nor a legal fiduciary responsibility. Many new or small businesses choose to have advisory boards in order to benefit from the knowledge of others, without the expense or formality of the Board of Directors.
A board of advisors is a small group of people which meets periodically to offer advice and direction to a company. Members of the board of advisors do not usually have a share in the company, and they do not bear legal responsibilities for the company’s actions. Generally, small and startup firms use a board of advisors so that they get a firm footing in their market, and people on the board are chosen on the base of expertise and prestige.
It can be easy to confuse a board of advisors and a board of directors, since to the uninitiated these two groups may sound the same. However, a board of directors is a group of officials who are elected by shareholders to oversee the company’s operations, in contrast with people who are selected by the company. Members of a board of directors do bear legal responsibility for the events which occur on their watch, and they are compensated in stock or cash for their work.
Some people may also use the term “board of advisors” to refer generally to a group of professionals convened to offer advice and assistance with a project. Universities, for example, might have boards of advisors to guide them on sensitive issues, and such boards might also assist research teams and other groups. In this case, members of the board are chosen for their expertise and reputation in the field, to ensure that the project is carried out in a professional and ethical manner.
An advisory board can be a great tool for a small company, especially as it expands and its operations start to go beyond the reach and knowledge of the company’s officers. Since the members of the board do not hold any power, they cannot make decisions for the company, but they can offer useful suggestions based upon research and experience. The size of such a board may vary, but three to 10 people are common, ensuring a broad spectrum of views and experience.”
If your business is considering an advisory board, contact HRB.