I have two mentors. That’s about all this post has to do with the title, because, really, these are the best of times, the best of times.
Everybody should have a mentor—a guide, whose experience and insights help them achieve the greatest success, while avoiding common pitfalls.
Though they may protest, I’m going to talk all about mine here. My mentors are Brent Weaver, of uGurus, and Jonathan Hinshaw, of Ebway Creative. I think of them as the master of business, and the master of sales, respectively. Quite honestly, either one could school me on either subject, but I have my reasons for keeping them in separate corners, if you’ll excuse my mixed education and boxing metaphors.
Brent represents the hard-line business approach to...well, doing business. He has knowledge and keen insights into things that work, and things that don’t. Early on, in the form of a one-page focus plan, he put me through a regiment of questions about my business and goals, and demanded answers before I moved on. They weren’t easy. I’m still working on some of them. He made me answer things about my plan that sometimes were simply not planned out.
Brent taught me to look forward with clear goals in mind.
My favorite business quote is one I read in a business magazine years ago. It stuck with me, not because of the man who said it (I found the reference for you), but because it rang true. It made sense. “The essence of strategic positioning is conceding territory.”
Brent drove that home for me. When I’d tell him I was going to target two audiences, he would urge me to focus. When I’d say I was going to do this and that, he’d say focus. It drove me mad. I spent a few months trying to finish my stupid one-page focus sheet with him. I know he thought I was a lost cause. That would make sense, because I was starting to think the same thing. Of course, it was easier to blame it on him. I’d think, Come on, Brent! Just accept that I have a few irons in the fire.
It’s hard to focus when you have so many ideas.
Brent introduced me to Jonathan.
That’s one of the nice things about having a mentor. They tend to have large networks, and they can play matchmaker with those people, hooking up like minds.
What started out as a business relationship, soon blossomed into another mentorship. Jonathan is a sales phenomenon. He’s an online marketing consultant who knows how to get things done. He’s also the guy I turned to when I realized I was never going to finish my stupid one-pager.
My mentoring with Brent was only planned to go on for a few months. And a few months had gone by. I think both he and I believed I would have been done with the one-pager in the first few weeks. It’s really just a focus plan. You know, a plan based on my focus. The problem was I simply wanted to do so many things.
This all came to a head when I had my last official meeting with Brent. Though he said I could still email him, and he would still help out if he could, the attention was going to be diminished. By this time, I had narrowed my focus smorgasborg to an entree of helping Business Catalyst partners, with a side of this cool vertical market for which I had built a cool product.
Brent had just gotten after me again for my split focus, and in reply I openly challenged his thinking. I hung up the phone and stewed. But I knew he was right. Even my mission statement was conflicted. And because it was conflicted, everything that followed was unclear. My goals. My timeline. My whole purpose in business.
Jonathan helped me figure out what my goals really were.
So I called up Jonathan and complained about Brent’s obsession with focus. Ok, not really. I knew deep down that Brent was right, and when I called Jonathan, I admitted as much. I knew I desperately needed help solving this problem, and I was ready to pay the price (quite literally. Jonathan charged me for his time).
Jonathan presented some of his own questionnaires (yay, more!), prepping to take me on a journey. This was more of a spiritual journey, though. We did some exploring of my personal goals and dreams, finding out who I was. He was in search of my core.
Jonathan’s saying is, “Do what you love.” And he means it. Not just from a business or skill perspective, but from a personal perspective. Do something that represents who you are and what you believe in.
I totally drank the kool-aid.
And I’m so glad I did. Guess what I realized? I love to help. That goes right to my core. If I feel I can make a difference, I’m happy.
Understanding my core helped me to return to the one-pager, which I no longer thought was stupid, and really put some goals in place. I was easily able to decide which direction I would go. It’s pretty obvious which path I took. I mean, hey, you’re reading this aren’t you? I turned in my new one-page focus plan to Brent. He said it was much better. It just needed… Well, that story goes on. Perhaps in a year or two I’ll finally finish it, but at least I’m able to play the game now. At least now I’m able to put everything into what I do, without distraction or conflict, and be totally happy doing it.