Bill Gates had Warren Buffett, Tony Robbins had Jim Rohn and Luke Skywalker had Yoda.
I had Jack Ritchason, who I will forever be grateful to. When I met him, he was a distributor at Shaklee, one of a handful of direct selling companies in business at that time. It was 1972 and I had just co-founded Nature’s Sunshine Products. I needed advice because we were blazing a relatively new trail. He gave me a lot of counsel over the years, and without him I think I would have made some fatal mistakes. There weren’t too many people you could ask for this kind of information. Jack was one who understood the business from A to Z and consistently pointed me in the right direction. Can I honestly say that I might not be where I’m at today without Jack? Yes, this is a very honest conclusion.
I’ve always been fascinated with data. According to Bloomberg Business, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. Research shows that 70 percent of mentored businesses survive more than five years, double the rate for non-mentored small businesses over that same period. What does this mean? That you should seriously consider finding mentors to grow your business and possibly save your business.
What types of mentors are there?
First of all, a mentor is defined as an experienced and trusted advisor. So, anyone that has experience in their field and that is imparting advice can be considered a mentor. Most people have more than one mentor. Jack was what I consider a Master Mentor to me but I have had other mentors in my life.
Betty Liu, a Bloomberg Markets editor-at-large, wrote about 4 types of mentors in an article for www.inc.com.* She calls mentors your personal Board of Directors. I’m sharing excerpts below from her article because she sums it up well.
- The Coach
Growing up, your parents will be your first coaches. If they’re good, they’ll encourage you when you’re down, listen, and help you figure out solutions to problems. The issue is that at a certain point in your adult life, their advice will cease to be as effective. It’s not because you’re too old for them, but because your career has outgrown their area of expertise. This is when you need to have older, wiser people around you who are more well attuned to your industry and job. They can coach you through tough moments, think big picture on projects and ideas, and help you solve work-related problems.
- The Connector
These are some of the most important mentors to have and they are pretty rare. Connectors are people whose very satisfaction comes from helping people meet each other. Nobody knows why they love connecting people, but they all share traits of having bountiful amounts of energy and loving new ideas. They have a wide and very deep network of people who all respect them and they often “get things done.”
- The Cheerleader
These are the people whom you can call after getting a big promotion and they will be as thrilled for you as your mother. In a sometimes cutthroat world, you need people who will genuinely be happy for you. Sometimes that’s all you need to get you through. You don’t need too many people like this–sometimes one is just enough, but this person is your rock.
- The Challenger
If you want to grow, you will want some challengers in your life who will tell you when they think you’re doing something wrong. They’re the ones who, after you call the Cheerleader about your great idea, will tell you a dozen ways why it won’t work unless you do X, Y, and Z. This criticism, if it comes from the right place, will set you on the right path.
What can professional business mentors offer me?
A mentor can (some or all may apply):
- Impart expert advice
- Analyze your business with fresh, unbiased perspective
- Help you to set short and long-term goals then hold you accountable
- Encourage your business and personal development
- Expand your skill set through training
- Listen and empathize (especially if they are in the same industry)
- Celebrate your successes
- Increase your personal network
- Challenge you to make changes
- Become a friend
In direct selling companies, many upline leaders become important mentors. This is one of many aspects of the business that I love. To truly be part of a successful team requires mentoring those on your team by training, encouraging and celebrating with them. I encourage all those in this industry to look to these type of leaders in your upline as mentors. It may not be your direct sponsor, but trust me when I say that most leaders want to help you succeed. This is ultimately why I think that the direct selling model has been such a phenomenal success in the world. Nobody succeeds all on their own without help along the way. For those successful leaders (mentors) reading this blog – thank you for mentoring those on your team and please continue doing so.
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”
next blog topic – How Do I Find a Mentor?