“You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.”
? Jim Rohn
Over the years Angel and I have written a lot about our personal struggles on this blog. But a related topic we haven’t addressed nearly as often is our professional struggles. We help our course students with various aspects of career and business strategy every day, and yet we rarely write about it publicly. This morning, however, Angel and I received three emails from blog readers that all proposed the same fundamental question:
How do I find successful mentors who will help me reach my professional/business goals?
This is a great question – one that I feel warrants a public response, because we once struggled with the same predicament, and the specific solution we discovered continues to have a profound effect on our professional lives.
So, it’s time for a quick story about life and business…
Many moons ago, when Angel and I were young twenty-something entrepreneurs who were struggling to get our business off the ground (with little money and basically no connections), we realized that if we ever intended to achieve our dreams we needed guidance and mentorship from some successful people who had already walked the path we were embarking on.
So we did the most naive thing anybody could think of: We wrote cold email inquiries to the (basically famous) A-listers of our industry – bloggers with millions of monthly readers, bestselling authors, social entrepreneurs and coaches with ridiculously successful businesses, and the list goes on. We let them know that we admired specific professional decisions they had made and certain character traits they had displayed publicly over the years, and that it would be a dream come true if we could learn directly from them, perhaps by volunteering our time to assist them with some of their active projects.
We should have known better, right?
These were some of the busiest people on planet Earth! Who were we to think that they would reply to a couple twenty-something dreamers with no publicly recognizable skills whatsoever, beyond, perhaps, the ability to write a coherent email? And we subtly asked them to offer us their mentorship… And we suggested we would volunteer, when they obviously already had successful teams of people they trusted… We were NUTS, weren’t we?
Then an unimaginable thing happened. We received an email reply… and a second… and a third… And over the next few years, we found ourselves learning from and being directly and indirectly mentored by an enormously successful group of people who were undoubtedly our biggest heroes at the time (I’ll spare names and details out of respect for personal privacy, etc.).
For quite awhile, as Angel and I were in the thick of learning and growing, we never really stopped to question why everyone was being so nice to us…
One day, several years later, five of these same mentors – who were now our friends – joined us for a face-to-face mastermind meeting that was part of conference we were hosting. And one of them randomly joked that she had gotten to know us through a cold email inquiry we once sent her. The room went quiet for a moment. Then, at the same exact time, our other four mentors who were present in the room started snickering and nodding their heads in agreement that they too met us through a simple, cold email inquiry.
The whole room broke out in sincere laughter.
“Do you know why I decided to meet with you both?” one of them asked.
Angel and I smiled and just looked at each other.
“Because after a couple decades of running my business, every single person who reached out to me with a cold inquiry wanted something from me. They wanted my money, they wanted me to give them a job… they wanted something for free. Your inquiry caught my attention because you two were the first ones who wanted to give me something, and actually showed a well-researched, genuine interest in learning more about the projects I was working on and excited about.”
Angel and I looked around the room. The others were again nodding their heads in agreement.
Needless to say, we learned something important about life and business that day.
Can you relate to our story in any way? Anything else to add?
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Photo by: Ellen