If I could only pick one resource to have in business it wouldn’t be money, or luck, or great ideas. I would pick mentors. They have meant the world to me in my success and, sometimes even more important, peace of mind. For each business I have had since high school, I can remember the mentors who helped me along the way.
I am a HUGE fan of having mentors. People who help guide, console, and inspire by sharing their own real-life experiences with me. Over the years I’ve read stacks of how-to books, and have gone to tons of seminars and classes. My BEST education has been from meeting with people who have accomplished great things.
Most of my mentors have helped me grow and helped my businesses grow. Some of them have helped me through some real crises moments like having to lay-off half my staff during the dot-bomb days, or dealing with a mentally deranged employee, or having a new competitor copy us. Having mentors and, in more recent years, a great business partner as a mentor, has helped me get to great places and get through some tough times.
How do I find mentors? If I get the sense that I could learn from someone else’s experiences, I buy them lunch. Earlier on I would actually cold call people I read about in the local newspaper. As time went on and my network grew, I could get introductions from people I know. After an intro, I offer to buy them lunch to hear their experiences. 80% of the time people say yes without knowing much more than I am a young entrepreneur who is excited about learning from their experiences. If I feel there’s chemistry, I’ll let it flow from there. Maybe it’s an email or phone call asking their advice about something. Maybe it’s an introduction to someone else. maybe it’s another lunch. It is usually followed up with a lot of thank you’s and gratitude.
Mentors haven’t always been older than me either. I have a lot of mentors who are contemporaries. A lot of my friends from YEO (now EO) were the same age and had a lot of valuable experiences to share.
So, THANK YOU to all of those amazing, wonderful people out there who have helped me over the years. I started to list them off and realized two things: 1. there are way too many to list, 2. I’d hate to miss someone on the list because of how much each one has meant to me.
I hope I can give back and help others in similar way to how I’ve been helped. So, if you ever feel that my experiences can be of help to you or someone you know, feel free to give me a shout.