How to get any successful business owner to mentor you!

17 replies
It's very simple . . . don't ask them to be your mentor or coach. If you do, they will nearly always turn you down.

Let me explain by first clearing the air a little about online mentors and business coaches.

To me, at least, mentors and coaches are not the same thing. I realize, however, that these two terms are confused and used interchangeably online all the time.

I believe a mentor is a friend, a teacher, a supporter, and an advisor.

I believe a coach is a something different. To me, a coach is a private tutor or trainer, someone who is typically retained under contract to give one-on-one direction and specialized training fit to the needs of the client in order to get that client to a higher level of output or performance. A coach is also a motivator and a cheerleader that sees the client/coach progress as a team effort.

Certainly, I acknowledge that there is some cross-over in the roles and functions of mentors and coaches.

Why does all this matter? Let me explain my thinking here.

If you want to hire someone to help you individually in your business, IMO, you should go out into the marketplace specifically looking for a successful business owner that does paid coaching.

If you ask most successful business owners to be your mentor they will almost always turn you down. They will worry that if they become an "official" mentor -
  • it will become a major time drain for them - time away from their own business effort
  • they may not be able to provide you with what you really need
  • they will let you down when they can't constantly hold your hand
  • you are just one more "iron in the fire" that complicates their business day and worries their mind
  • named association with you may not be in their best interest
  • they may not appreciate your valued time by being themselves lazy, unteachable, or unwilling to follow the advise that you are genuinely giving - in essence, they are a waste of your time.
Can you hire or pay a mentor to do that? IMO, you are confusing terms again and what you really want is a paid coach. When compensation, or contracts, or specified time commitments are involved, we're in the realm of coaching.

So if you want a mentor (a teacher or advisor), here is what I suggest:
  1. Befriend a wise and successful business owner but don't abuse your relationship by expecting hand-holding, specific time commitments, or special "preferred" status of any kind
  2. Be willing to observe how your mentor does his business without personally taking up his time. Watch and learn how he executes his business, dissect his selling system, his lead generating activities, his funnels, his web site, his email list, his newsletter, his follow-up, how he converts prospects into customers, etc. If you can, buy his product(s) and become his subscriber and see what he does for you, his customer. You can learn as much (maybe more) by watching him as you can by having him talk to you.
  3. Offer to help him in any way you can with no reciprocation needed (or expected) on his part
  4. Cultivate your relationship in various professional ways without being a stalker, a groupie, or like a clinging child under foot. Offer to give him time in your specialty, take him to lunch occasionally (if you are nearby), give him credit for your successes, support his business, help him to be successful if you.
  5. Very important: don't abuse your relationship or "expect" anything beyond friendship.
I have often heard people describe how much their wonderful mentors have helped them, but if you were to ask that mentor what he had done for them, he may looked puzzled . . . as though he hadn't really done anything special for that person except to be a friend.

If you ask me to be your coach or mentor . . . I will say "No thanks - nothing personal, but I turn down all such requests." But I am happy to talk to friends about business, my own experiences, and what I believe are best practices, tools, and approaches in IM. I even try to help strangers when I can (I hope my posts here show that).

Is this post making sense? Contrasting views are certainly welcome.

Steve
#business #mentor #owner #successful
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  • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
    I couldn't agree more - especially about the part where you ask to help them and learn from doing. Most successful people in this business that I know work a minimum of 60 hours per week. They don't have time to be your mentor. They are more than happy to "accidentally" coach anyone who is willing to take the load off of them, though.
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    • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
      Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

      Most successful people in this business that I know work a minimum of 60 hours per week..
      IMHO, If they're still working a minimum of 60 hours per week, they're not as successful as your giving them credit for. They're slaves to their business.
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      • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
        Originally Posted by OptedIn View Post

        IMHO, If they're still working a minimum of 60 hours per week, they're not as successful as your giving them credit for. They're slaves to their business.
        Or, they're trying to make even more. Some people are happy making money; some people are happy making lots of money; some people are happy making lots and lots of money.

        A large percentage of the most successful people never really stop working. Some may call that being a "slave" to their business. Most of the people I know who work that many hours who don't really have to do so because they truly love what they do. They love the challenge and the rewards. It's what they would be doing for fun.

        There are much worse things than loving what you do to make money.
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        • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
          Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

          Or, they're trying to make even more. Some people are happy making money; some people are happy making lots of money; some people are happy making lots and lots of money..
          My observations in life has shown me that when people need to make lot and lots of money, it's usually to offset unhappiness in another aspect of their life. I've seen it many times.

          There's more to life than making money and if that's the main focus of your life, you may be alive, but you're certainly not 'livin'. :-)
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          • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
            Originally Posted by OptedIn View Post

            My observations in life has shown me that when people need to make lot and lots of money, it's usually to offset unhappiness in another aspect of their life. I've seen it many times.

            There's more to life than making money and if that's the main focus of your life, you may be alive, but you're certainly not 'livin'. :-)
            Everybody has different things that make them happy. Some people absolutely love their work and that makes them happy. To each, his own.
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            • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
              Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

              Some people absolutely love their work and that makes them happy.
              Very, true, but that wasn't your assertion. You were talking about how the pursuit of more and more money is what is making them happy.

              Some people work for peanuts and are very happy. Some people with all the money a person could hope for are some of the most miserable human beings you will ever meet, regardless of the belief you may have that they are happy making all that money

              Hey - I think I just came up with a new saying. It goes like this. "Money can't buy happiness." Loving your work, even if it barely pays the bills can. Some of the happiest people I know are what are commonly referred to as, 'starving artists.' It's not a life I would choose, but as someone once said - "To each his own."

              There's much more to life than money and working at least, as you say, 60 hours a week in pursuit of it. Well, if it makes them happy, that's great. I'm just not buying it because I've never actually seen it - "and all I knowz iz what I seez!"

              Cheers.
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              • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
                Originally Posted by OptedIn View Post

                Very, true, but that wasn't your assertion. You were talking about how the pursuit of more and more money is what is making them happy.

                Some people work for peanuts and are very happy. Some people with all the money a person could hope for are some of the most miserable human beings you will ever meet, regardless of the belief you may have that they are happy making all that money

                Hey - I think I just came up with a new saying. It goes like this. "Money can't buy happiness." Loving your work, even if it barely pays the bills can. Some of the happiest people I know are what are commonly referred to as, 'starving artists.' It's not a life I would choose, but as someone once said - "To each his own."

                There's much more to life than money and working at least, as you say, 60 hours a week in pursuit of it. Well, if it makes them happy, that's great. I'm just not buying it because I've never actually seen it - "and all I knowz iz what I seez!"

                Cheers.
                Actually, if you read beyond the first paragraph, you would have seen that I also wrote ...

                "A large percentage of the most successful people never really stop working. Some may call that being a "slave" to their business. Most of the people I know who work that many hours who don't really have to do so because they truly love what they do. They love the challenge and the rewards. It's what they would be doing for fun."

                I work that many hours a week because I love it. So now, you can say you know someone who does! The great thing is, I also have the flexibility to work when I want, work from home and take breaks to do the important things with my family whenever I want. I can take a day off, a week off, a month off whenever I want and do!
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                • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
                  Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

                  Actually, if you read beyond the first paragraph, you would have seen that I also wrote ...
                  I read it all. I'm funny like that. Just had trouble following your shifting positions.

                  "A large percentage of the most successful people never really stop working. Some may call that being a "slave" to their business. Most of the people I know who work that many hours who don't really have to do so because they truly love what they do. They love the challenge and the rewards. It's what they would be doing for fun."
                  Are you saying they never stop working a "minimum of, at least 60 hours per week?" That was what you stated in your original post. Now you're moving the goal posts, again. Very hard to debate an assertion if you change it in each consecutive post. lol

                  I work that many hours a week because I love it. So now, you can say you know someone who does!
                  Or, at least states that they do, but, not according to what you say, next.

                  The great thing is, I also have the flexibility to work when I want, work from home and take breaks to do the important things with my family whenever I want. I can take a day off, a week off, a month off whenever I want and do!
                  That's not working, a "minimum of, at least 60 hours per week," then - is it??? lol

                  Focus!
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                  • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
                    Originally Posted by OptedIn View Post

                    I read it all. I'm funny like that. Just had trouble following your shifting positions.



                    Are you saying they never stop working a "minimum of, at least 60 hours per week?" That was what you stated in your original post. Now you're moving the goal posts, again. Very hard to debate an assertion if you change it in each consecutive post. lol



                    Or, at least states that they do, but, not according to what you say, next.



                    That's not working, a "minimum of, at least 60 hours per week," then - is it??? lol

                    Focus!
                    Working 60 hours per week and working 60 hours per week every week of the year are not the same thing. I think most people who say that they work 40 hours per week don't count the weeks that they are on vacation and the holiday time off they are given, but maybe you do. Perhaps you can start an argument with everyone who says that and correct them, telling them that two weeks per year they are not working plus their 10 holiday days off so they are really only working 36.92 hours per week ... oops, you took 4 sick days, too, so we're going to need to deduct another few minutes per week!

                    Seriously, don't you have anything better to do with your time than parse every iota of a sentence and then try to start arguments with people? Whatever the number of hours you work, you sure don't seem to be a very happy person.

                    I'm sure nothing you have written in this thread has done a thing to contribute to the premise of what the OP stated, but I guess they'll have to decide that. Happy trolling!
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                    • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
                      Originally Posted by dave_hermansen View Post

                      Working 60 hours per week and working 60 hours per week every week of the year are not the same thing. I think most people who say that they work 40 hours per week don't count the weeks that they are on vacation and the holiday time off they are given, but maybe you do. Perhaps you can start an argument with everyone who says that and correct them, telling them that two weeks per year they are not working plus their 10 holiday days off so they are really only working 36.92 hours per week ... oops, you took 4 sick days, too, so we're going to need to deduct another few minutes per week!
                      Just holding you responsible and accountable for your words. I'm funny that way, too.

                      Seriously, don't you have anything better to do with your time than parse every iota of a sentence and then try to start arguments with people? Whatever the number of hours you work, you sure don't seem to be a very happy person.
                      I'm not arguing. I'm quoting your words. Since they change with every post, it's more like you're arguing with yourself. I'm merely pointing it out. I know that can be frustrating.

                      Also, I don't work at all. I spent the day driving around S. jersey in my convertible. If you saw the smile that is stuck on my mug, you'd have an idea of how happy I can be. I find it funny that you think that just because someone wants to engage you, you think that they are unhappy. You need to try to ascertain where that originates from because it's a specious assumption, rooted in nothing.

                      I'm sure nothing you have written in this thread has done a thing to contribute to the premise of what the OP stated, but I guess they'll have to decide that. Happy trolling!
                      Yes - that's not really for you to decide. I'm sure you find that frustrating, also. :-) Also, I was responding to your posts, directly. That happens sometimes in discussion threads. Anyone can comment, on anything said.

                      People know when I'm arguing with them. Ask, around. Throwing out the 'trolling' accusation just means you have no other way to defend your position. It's OK. You'd have to pick one and stick with it, before anyone would expect you to be able to confidently defend it. Your original comment was 'Mind Warrior' sub-forum fodder about the joy of pursuing more and more money by working "a minimum of, at least 60 hours per week." I felt that deserved some rational push-back. Really sorry you felt attacked by that. My intentions were much more benign.

                      Have a great evening.

                      BTW - the forum has an 'ignore' function. You can spare yourself from reading anything I write by employing it. We both know you won't do that, though. lol
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  • Profile picture of the author DURABLEOILCOM
    The key part here is to be able to ask the correct question and then apply the advice given. Paid coaching is great only if you have tried self educating and learning by trial and error have not worked for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Instead of looking for a free mentor or coach, I suggest newbies become interns, offering to do grunt work for people that are successful. Instead of asking them to donate their time to you, offer to donate your time to them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Obermair
    Finding a mentor is awesome. I have had several mentors over the years and based on their experience, they have really assisted in identifying challenges that I would be facing - before I screwed something up. The key for me was to listen to the advice - this helped build the relationship. More recently have been assisting a couple of colleagues with their startup endeavors. I only do this because I think they have a great idea and they have the skills to succeed - just not the experience. My background is operations - so I guide them in setting up accounting systems, sales channel strategies, connect them with companies that may have interest in their products and guide them through fund raising. I actually enjoy watching them succeed (I know it sounds kinda corny but true). Find a mentor - but make sure you provide them with value as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    you sure don't seem to be a very happy person.
    How would a person know the emotional state of another by what they post on a forum?

    Take anything other than a "that's awesome" view and suddenly you are unhappy.

    parse every iota of of a sentence
    Maybe that's what makes him happy.

    Brent
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Well said Steve.

    Tweeted for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author oppyeaunome
    Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

    It's very simple . . . don't ask them to be your mentor or coach. If you do, they will nearly always turn you down.

    Let me explain by first clearing the air a little about online mentors and business coaches.

    To me, at least, mentors and coaches are not the same thing. I realize, however, that these two terms are confused and used interchangeably online all the time.

    I believe a mentor is a friend, a teacher, a supporter, and an advisor.

    I believe a coach is a something different. To me, a coach is a private tutor or trainer, someone who is typically retained under contract to give one-on-one direction and specialized training fit to the needs of the client in order to get that client to a higher level of output or performance. A coach is also a motivator and a cheerleader that sees the client/coach progress as a team effort.

    Certainly, I acknowledge that there is some cross-over in the roles and functions of mentors and coaches.

    Why does all this matter? Let me explain my thinking here.

    If you want to hire someone to help you individually in your business, IMO, you should go out into the marketplace specifically looking for a successful business owner that does paid coaching.

    If you ask most successful business owners to be your mentor they will almost always turn you down. They will worry that if they become an "official" mentor -
    • it will become a major time drain for them - time away from their own business effort
    • they may not be able to provide you with what you really need
    • they will let you down when they can't constantly hold your hand
    • you are just one more "iron in the fire" that complicates their business day and worries their mind
    • named association with you may not be in their best interest
    • they may not appreciate your valued time by being themselves lazy, unteachable, or unwilling to follow the advise that you are genuinely giving - in essence, they are a waste of your time.
    Can you hire or pay a mentor to do that? IMO, you are confusing terms again and what you really want is a paid coach. When compensation, or contracts, or specified time commitments are involved, we're in the realm of coaching.

    So if you want a mentor (a teacher or advisor), here is what I suggest:
    1. Befriend a wise and successful business owner but don't abuse your relationship by expecting hand-holding, specific time commitments, or special "preferred" status of any kind
    2. Be willing to observe how your mentor does his business without personally taking up his time. Watch and learn how he executes his business, dissect his selling system, his lead generating activities, his funnels, his web site, his email list, his newsletter, his follow-up, how he converts prospects into customers, etc. If you can, buy his product(s) and become his subscriber and see what he does for you, his customer. You can learn as much (maybe more) by watching him as you can by having him talk to you.
    3. Offer to help him in any way you can with no reciprocation needed (or expected) on his part
    4. Cultivate your relationship in various professional ways without being a stalker, a groupie, or like a clinging child under foot. Offer to give him time in your specialty, take him to lunch occasionally (if you are nearby), give him credit for your successes, support his business, help him to be successful if you.
    5. Very important: don't abuse your relationship or "expect" anything beyond friendship.
    I have often heard people describe how much their wonderful mentors have helped them, but if you were to ask that mentor what he had done for them, he may looked puzzled . . . as though he hadn't really done anything special for that person except to be a friend.

    If you ask me to be your coach or mentor . . . I will say "No thanks - nothing personal, but I turn down all such requests." But I am happy to talk to friends about business, my own experiences, and what I believe are best practices, tools, and approaches in IM. I even try to help strangers when I can (I hope my posts here show that).

    Is this post making sense? Contrasting views are certainly welcome.

    Steve

    This is very good advice especially when you need help in your business to move forward. A mentor is really good help and if you need one you have to figure out how you can give value to the person first.

    As you said it's not just about getting from the person, but giving first and letting them see that you are about helping first.

    Thank you so much for your help with this post.
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  • Profile picture of the author AndreiMorariu
    Very nice post and I can't agree more. Successful people won't line up to be your mentor just because you ask them to. They have important things to do every day and their time is limited.

    In my opinion if you want to grab the attention of a successful person you should think about what value can you bring him without asking for nothing in return. Also you should study everything he/she is doing ( how they structure their funnels, how they build their brand, how they structure their products, what upsells they use etc. ). You should buy all their products and understand the big picture of why this person is so successful and model it. Don't COPY, model it.

    You may not succeed in your first try but consistency and hard work always pays off.
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