Mentors: Why You Should Get One…
I’m lucky. I’ve always had a really good mentor, my father.
My dad was the CEO of a big company and I would always ask him questions about business to which he used to spout gems that he probably doesn’t even remember giving me.
Always under-promise, over-deliver
Always hire people smarter than you
Don’t buy something you can’t afford
Classics, but things I wonder if I would have picked up if he hadn’t taught them to me. Maybe, maybe not. I’m lucky again because my Dad is still around and still mentoring me with my businesses as well as being a Trustee of the Live More Awesome Foundation. I trust his judgement on everything as he’s one of the smartest and most honest people I know. It was one of our talks one day that proved this even more when he said to me that I should get a mentor. I told him I already had one, him. To which he responded, “Yes, I will always be your mentor but you need another mentor, someone who isn’t related, someone who is more impartial and has a different skill set.”
This made sense to me, Dad was great but there are other people out there that can help me as well. So Dad and I started to make a list of people that might be good as a mentor for me. The list wasn’t really that long, we couldn’t really think of all that many people that would fit with me (that I liked enough to ask). It took a couple of months of thinking before we settled on a man that Dad and I had done some business with in the past. Dad regards this man as the “most connected man in NZ business” and as it turns out, we’re very similar in a lot of ways.
I emailed this guy and asked if we could have a meeting, his PA came back to me and said that he could meet with me in two months. I took the meeting and sat back and waited. Two months passed and I went and had the meeting, we talked about all sorts of randomness, caught up in general before I popped the question…
“I was wondering if you would consider being my mentor?”
He was taken aback. Apparently no one had ever asked this guy to be their mentor before. A man who is the CEO of a big company, a heavyweight in NZ business and the “most connected” man around. NOT ONE PERSON HAD EVER ASKED HIM TO BE THEIR MENTOR. Ever. This fact took ME aback. He had some questions…
“What do I have to do?”
‘Not much,’ I said, ‘just have breakfast with me once a month.’ He wanted to know what we would do at these breakfast meetings. ‘Nothing more than talk shit. I’ll tell you what I’m up to, you can give me advice if you want. It’s about that simple.’
He agreed. I now officially had a mentor.
So that’s what we do, we have breakfast once a month. I tell him about what I’m up to and he gives me advice. Good advice. Advice that I take on board just like I would with my father. It’s a great arrangement. Not only does he gives me advice, he gives me help. He finds out about things and recommends me for them, he gets me meetings with his friends and business partners and just generally helps me make my projects better and it’s not just business either, he gives me advice on my general life as well… I need that too.
Sounds very one sided doesn’t it, him helping me. But, here’s the thing, it’s not. Mentors get just as much out of it as the person that they are mentoring. They get that awesome feeling of helping someone become better. They’ve already become someone and are usually happy to help out other people trying to make something of themselves. It makes them feel good.
Want my advice? Get a mentor.
Here’s the biggest lesson I learnt, aim high, pick someone that you really admire and someone who has been really successful. They’ve probably never been asked if they’d mentor someone before and will most probably say yes.