How To: Landing a Mentor
Undoubtedly, the most important thing you could accomplish when you're trying to start a business, is to find a proven mentor who can help you grow.
"Smart men learn from their mistakes. Wise men learn from the mistakes of others."
There is nothing more valuable than having reliable access to a mentor who has already been to where you want to go. When you have someone who has experience and is willing to teach you, your earning potential increases dramatically. However, even though the monetary benefits can be great, the real value of having a mentor lies in what they save you. When someone is willing to pick up the phone for you and give you advice, you make less mistakes, which will save you from losing money. When you have access to someone's connections that they already spent a lifetime building, you save time. When someone teaches you tricks and tips that you otherwise wouldn't have learned on your own, they save you pain. The current state of mentorship in this country is suffering. The relationship between a mentor and a mentee is a very sacred one, and unfortunately not one that is often honored. A consultant will teach you because they are paid to, a mentor will teach you because they want to see you succeed. If you want to attract, and keep a good mentor, here is what you need to be doing:
1. Selection. The first myth regarding mentorship is that YOU must identify and select a good teacher. The reason I truly believe that this myth needs to die, is because in every successful mentor relationship I have seen, the mentor selected the student, not the other way around.
The worst thing that you can do to yourself is establish a preconceived notion about what your future mentor should look like. The truth is, that you can't make anyone teach you, and if they don't want to, nothing you do is going to change their decision. Instead, focus on the people who are showing an interest in you, because those are the people who WANT to give you time. Many times, people are oblivious to the ones trying to teach them, because they're focused on trying to chase someone down who really doesn't care. Knowledge and skill can be taught. Genuine interest and concern cannot.
2. Semantics. Communication, and increasing the amount of time you spend thinking before you speak, is possibly one of the most important things you can learn, especially when you're talking to a potential teacher. The most common thing someone will say to me is "Can I pick your brain?" While the sentence itself is innocent and good natured, you're already setting the wrong tone. Are you looking for a single piece of advice? The tone you're setting is initially saying that you're looking for a disposable relationship.
Instead of focusing on yourself, and the information you're looking for, focus on them. Allow someone to talk about themselves, and not only will you bond with them, but you're likely to learn something as well. One of the best opening lines that someone ever approached me with was "I really like the way that I always feel so motivated when I'm around you. Could I take you out to lunch sometime? I would really like to figure out how you created such a great mindset for yourself." Instead of sounding transactional, it sounded like someone was genuinely interested in me as not just a mentor, but a friend. The street goes both ways.
3. Self Starting. The type of person you should be seeking out as a mentor will have not just a vast amount of knowledge, but also a vast amount of real like experience... first hand. Very few things will irritate your teacher more than if it seems like you want them to do all of the work for you. All of the information they have, they likely learned the hard way, and the long way. It can be extremely frustrating to see someone who wants to benefit from what you have worked to earn, without being willing to put in the work yourself. The truth is, your mentor shouldn't be doing any work for you. You should be learning the lessons yourself, and using your mentor to steer you in the right directions. He/She is there to teach you, and to keep you from catastrophic failure. Their job is to make your path a little bit easier... not to lay the bricks for you. An ideal mentee is someone who is out doing their own thing already, and needs advice along the way. When someone is out conquering their own empire, and needs help, it is very different than someone who needs to be pushed just to get started.
4. Gratitude. If you have a good mentor, they'll probably tell you repeatedly that they don't need thanks, and that they just want you to succeed. The last part of that sentence is true, but the first part isn't. Gratitude is one of those things that you thing you can live without... until it's not there anymore. Wanting to feel appreciated is innate in each human being, and your mentor is no different. No matter what they may say, thankfulness and gratitude will always be a must.
There are plenty of other ways to show how grateful you are besides saying thank you. You can help them out on their other projects, make them lunch, or really just do anything that saves them time. In a sense, you can look for opportunities to give them back some of the time that they have given to you. Time is ALWAYS appreciated.
5. Acknowledgement. This one is incredibly important, and has two different real life applications. The acknowledgement of your mentor may seem like it is the same as showing gratitude, but it is actually very different. The first part of this is to acknowledge that the person teaching you may not have had a mentor themselves. This is important for a few reasons. Mentorship is not a perfect art. It takes plenty of practice, and patience. If they did not have a mentor themselves, they're probably having to learn how to be a good mentor, just like you're learning to be a good mentee. Patience will need to be a two way street. The other part of this is that especially if your mentor had to learn all of their lessons the hard way. Sometimes seeing someone breeze passed all of the massive obstacles that you had to suffer through can be a difficult thing to deal with. Acknowledging their role in allowing you to do that is key to keeping your mentor happy.
Finally, when the day inevitably comes that you've become knowledgeable and successful, and are taking on new mentees yourself, it's very important to acknowledge and pay homage to the person who mentored you. Nobody in this country is truly self made. Perpetuating that belief is both harmful and hurtful.
6. Attention. This one is pretty straight forward. If someone is willing to take their time to teach you, you need to give them your attention. The people with skills worth teaching have very busy lives, and to spend time with you, that time is being taken from somewhere else. When you're with your mentor, don't be on your phone. The secret to life has always been to make sure that whoever you're with feels like they're at the center of your attention. When you make somebody feel special and valuable to you, they're willing to work much harder for your interest.
7. Respect. This is the one that everyone believes is common sense, but it's the #1 reason that mentorship falls apart, and why it is becoming increasingly harder to find someone willing to mentor you. Respect isn't just about being polite, it's about courtesy and foresight. Here are the top two things I see people do that irrevocably damage their relationships with their teachers. Specifically in real estate, but the foundation is true in anything.
- When someone spends their time and takes you around their projects and market, and educates you on how to do what they do, they are essentially training their own competition. It is quite a big deal, and requires lots of trust. Training one person to compete with you is enough, when a mentee (intentionally or unintentionally) shares that insider information with other people, it creates more competition, and can often cost your mentor large amounts of money. This essentially punishes them for being willing to teach you.
- When your mentor teaches you how to do what they do, it's because they want to see you progress and grow in the business. However, when you aren't going to use those skills for your own benefit, the person you taught should be offered the first right of refusal. This is a sign of respect. An example of this would be if you have been taught how to track down and acquire undervalued property, and you find one, but can't afford to buy it yourself, you should offer that opportunity to your mentor before you offer it to anyone else. Why wouldn't you allow the person who taught you how to fish, the opportunity to catch one? This is the most common form of disrespect that I see every day, and it always ends poorly.
I know that when it's written down, it seems to be very common sense, but I see mentorships break down every week because for some reason, one member of the party failed to value the relationship properly. Real estate has NEVER been a numbers game. It has ALWAYS been an influence game. Influence over vendors. Influence over contractors. Influence over markets. Influence over people. It's all RELATIONSHIPS. Numbers follow people, not the other way around. I hope this article will help to slowly rebuild the trust and bonds that come with maintaining healthy relationships with your teachers. If you learned anything, or clicked with anything you read, subscribe up above! Leave me a comment! Follow Us! Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DWinvestors19
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