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How do I find a Mentor?

Discussion in 'People Mgmt: Customers, Employees, Investors' started by Sid23, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. Sid23
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    Sid23 Bronze Contributor

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    Hi all,

    I'm meeting with one of the best real estate developers in my city for lunch this week. He has developed some of the nicest residential buildings in my city and I have been following his work (and been a fan) for some time.

    I "met" him a couple of years ago when he was looking for a project manager and I was living half way across the country. I sent him my resume and he responded, but turned out he was doing more of an "exploratory" candidate search, and at that point I wasn't prepared to move for the opportunity.

    Now I find myself living in the same city as he is and I've stalked him (ok, just politely emailed and "pinged" him from time to time) and he suggested we set up a lunch.

    Now, with the market in the tank and no new multifamily residential building going on in my city (and probably won't be for the next 2-3 years) I'm not sure how to approach this meeting.

    Part of my PLAN is to leverage my real estate development skills and form a partnership with an older developer who would partner with me and let me essentially run the firm day to day and be the "big picture" and relationship guy who leverages his experience and uses me for my hustle, talent, etc. A lot of the successful guys I've worked with (and for) got to lead small firms this way. This is the #1 guy in my city I'd want to do this with.

    My goal is for him to leave the meeting thinking, "Wow, Sid23 is a smart, ambitious guy and is someone I'd love to have work for/with me." Now, if there was a job/opportunity to be had, I'd go for it and I feel like I'd know what to do. But I want to seem like I "get it" and not come on too strong looking for something (a job, a partnership) that probably doesn't have any reason to exist right now.

    Any ideas on how to best handle / approach this meeting? Questions to ask?

    One idea I have is that I know he is doing a lot of work with the government regarding transit oriented development (planning - probably for free - thinking he'll get some deals when people start building again) and that I would flat out tell him I want to work with him and would be willing to help him with research or anything else right now (for free of course).

    Thoughts?

    (Normally, these types of meeting are my strong suit, but I am really nervous. I really look up to and admire this guy).

    THANKS!
     
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  2. bflbob
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    bflbob Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Heck...you've already sold us. Now tell him the same thing!

    One of the things people love to hear is how they are someone else's hero.

    As long as you don't come off too "stalkery", he'll likely feel that you are sincere.

    If you really can spare the time to help him out for free (and if you are good at what you do), he'll really appreciate it.

    It sounds to me as though you already know what to do. You've thought it out well. Just be honest, and be yourself.

    If this guy is as successful as you say he is, he'll be used to dealing with people who look up to him. He'll be used to people being nervous around him. And, he'll be used to looking through all that to see the gold inside you.

    Be sure to let us know how you make out!
     
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  3. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Sid-

    There was a guy in my industry. A kind of god (small "g"). He developed most of the modern day systems for evaluating small room acoustics. In other words, we know about small room acoustics today because of the work this one guy has done-- and the people who were inspired by him.

    (definition: small room acoustics refers to anything smaller than an auditorium, church, etc--- in other words, residential listening spaces).

    Since I made my living designing listening spaces for homes, this guy was my idol. I looked up to him, read all of his work (in that way he was my mentor), and pretty much just idolized what he'd done.

    So it made sense that, even as a "famous" guy in my industry, I got completely tongue tied and bashful the first time I met him. Prolly didn't say more than 5 words (3 of which were "hello" and "good bye").

    Third time I met him, I stammered out something like, "You know, there are a million things I'd like to talk about with you. But I'm so in awe of your work, and what you've done, that every time we meet, I'm at a loss for words" (I'd actually practiced saying these exact words, about 50 times-- because I knew that my mind would draw a blank when I saw him again).

    So I blurted out this pre-rehearsed drivel. Stopped.

    And he laughed, heartily. "Russ, my boy, we'll just have to sit down over a few drinks. I'm not that bad a guy. And there are things I'd like to chat about with you, too."

    That was the beginning of a long friendship. We'd talk frequently on the phone-- I'd call him when I had a question, or was writing an article that involved acoustics. And he'd share his new findings w/me-- both as papers, and in person (I'd fly down and he'd show me what he was working on).

    I still admire and respect him-- and consider him the father of small room acoustics. But I'm no longer intimidated by him.

    And I'm honored to call him my friend-- not just a professional acquaintance. Last time I was down in his neck of the woods, I stayed at his house (he and his wife are consummate hosts). He asked for my input, and I gave him some ideas for his home theater system set up (he was the small room acoustics god. I was just a home theater 'guru'). For years afterwards, I'd hear him telling his friends that I had given him great ideas for his home theater. It was quite an honor to be held in that esteem by him.

    *******

    So, the point of my story?

    Don't be afraid to tell this guy you're nervous-- tell him why. If you have to, practice a humble intro like I did, in case you get brain freeze.

    And from that point on, just be honest. Try to have your goals/ducks in a row before your meeting (in other words, what you'd like to learn from him). Offer him whatever you consider you bring to the party in return (sweat equity, a different perspective, whatever).

    Don't go out to impress. Go out to be genuine, and honest.

    Sure worked for me. :)

    -Russ H.
     
  4. andviv
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    andviv Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I'd say, don't try to sell him anything... not even yourself as a future partner or employee... simply tell him how much you admire his work, and ask him questions about some projects, ask him how he got started... listen carefully, and let him do most of the talking...

    People like to talk about themselves (I know, I love to hear myself ;)). Let him do that.

    P.S. Good luck, and let us know how it goes, ok?
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
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  5. JScott
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    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Here a message that I find generally comes across pretty well when dealing with people who may be able to help you:

    I'm not sure I have anything to offer you right now, and I would never even consider taking without giving something in return, but if you ever need my help in any way, please let me know...I'd love to work with you.

    This sends the message that you're not looking for a handout, you're sincerely interested in working with that person, and you understand the value of their time and don't take it for granted.
     
  6. Sid23
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    Sid23 Bronze Contributor

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    Thanks for all of the great advice guys. You all nailed it.

    Andviv, let's say I play it this way (and this is what I *normally* do). What is the next step follow up from there? I find that if it don't say something about a next meeting, call, or idea, I end up having a lot of first meetings...and not a lot of continued relationships.

    If I were to just do this, what is the next step?
     
  7. andviv
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    andviv Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I was gonna say something else, but seeing JScott's phrase, I'd use that at the end of the conversation... wow J, that sounds great!
     
  8. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Every once in a while, we get a newb that posts: "How do I find a mentor?"

    This thread is a GREAT answer to that q.

    Sid, w/your permission, I'd like to rename this thread, and sticky it.

    What do you think?

    -Russ H.
     
  9. Jill
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    Jill Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Sid ~
    If you read 4HWW, you might recall his comfort challenge where you call a potential superstar mentor. What he suggested, at the end of the call/meeting was:

    "Thank you for being so generous with your time. If I have the occasional tough question - very occasional - is there any chance I could keep in touch via email?"

    I don't think you'd have to be quite so deferential since your relationship is already somewhat existent. But I like the idea. Or perhaps something like, "If I come across any projects or contacts in which I think you may be interested (wrt whatever your topic of lunch discussion,) I'll give you a call/drop you a note." Sometimes matchmakers in business networking are rewarded with preferential consideration on future projects as a token of appreciation for past introductions/favors.
     
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  10. Sid23
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    Sid23 Bronze Contributor

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    Cool by me.
     
  11. Bobo
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    Bobo Bronze Contributor

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    Sid - I think if I were he and you printed out the thread and handed it to him he'd get that you are serious and not just blowing smoke.

    Good luck. Remember, he's a guy who does the one leg at a time thing too. "Be yourself" is somewhat of a cliche but cliches come into existence for a reason.


    .....unless most people find you annoying, then be someone you know who people like.
     
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  12. Cat Man Du
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    Cat Man Du Contributor

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    First, you set the meeting.

    Go in strength ( Confidence ) and power ( Value ).

    You are meeting a leader.


    LEADERS ..... are looking for people who will work ... WITH them ..... not FOR them.

    Look at it this way:

    A store owner hires several people to run the place. ie: stock clerks, cashiers, etc. He spends NO time with these Brown-Nosers, but he will spend time with his managers...because they work WITH him and share his vision for success.

    Use the aforementioned advice and HE will think you are applying for a BAG BOY .. still in high school.


    I say this, because all of the advice is: FROM THE BOTTOM UP....... You are meeting with a LEADER....He views everything: FROM THE TOP DOWN. It‘s a completely different perspective.


    Being in his position he prolly ( stole that word from Russ ) has plenty of money.............BUT not TIME. He will be looking for someone who can give him .... TIME. This is where you come in.


    EXAMPLE:

    Several years ago....... I hosted a radio program. While I had been a guest many times.......BUT had not been the host. As I walked into the studio.....I noticed that the GM was standing outside the window......watching me. I mentioned it to the host that was on before me and this is what he said:

    HE IS THERE TO SEE IF HE CAN INTIMATE YOU..........BECAUSE IF HE DOES..................THE CALLERS WILL RIP YOUR GUTS OUT AND LEAVE YOU BLEEDING-OUT ON THE FLOOR.

    REMEMBER THIS: HE IS THERE BECAUSE HE, EITHER CANNOT OR WILL NOT DO THIS JOB.

    WHEN YOU SIT IN THIS CHAIR... IT BELONGS TO YOU ... THE TABLE AND MIKE ARE YOURS ALONE AND IT’S UP TO YOU AS TO WHAT YOU DO WITH IT!

    You scheduled the meeting....... the table is yours.................ACT LIKE IT!


    Why do you think that Dick Cheaney was chosen for VP...........it wasn’t because he was a nice guy....like the previous advice tells you to be. He was chosen because he is a ‘CAN DO” guy with steel-studded boots on.... You could depend on him to get the job done.


    Leaders don’t like to talk about themselves, but they will talk about their latest passion.....ie, his new project...Transit?

    This may be your only chance......there may not be another meeting......YOU MUST SELL YOURSELF.............NOW!

    FASTLANE PRINCIPlES

    Decide what you want................. and .........WHY you want it..... TELL HIM YOUR WHY.

    1. Write down the goal.....GIVE HIM AN UP-DATED RESUME.

    2. Ask for what you want..... DON’T BE AFRAID!!!!!! ASK - ASK - ASK.

    3. Play by the rules...... SHARE HIS VISION....... TRANSIT?????

    4. Be gracious when achieved....... BE CONFIDENT.....WITHOUT ... BEING ARROGANT.

    These 4 items can be applied to almost anything you may want.

    Remember.............................it’s your table............ACT LIKE IT!!



    DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT:

    You don’t know that he is working for nothing..........Cities pay.....BIG BUCKS for feasibility studies. Even if he is ....it’s because there is a Big Payoff in the future... it doesn’t mean that you have to. If you value your time as ZERO... so will he.
     
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  13. AroundTheWorld
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    AroundTheWorld Be in the Moment Speedway Pass

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    I agree. You will have a successful meeting if you somehow connect with him. You will do this by talking about a shared interest... a shared passion.

    A year ago, we walked into a partnership with a leader in the industry.

    He was willing to give up a part of his company to us, and the only reason he was willing to do that is that we were able to show him, through a few conversations, that we had the ambition, drive, and aptitude to take the company and grow it.

    I've been meaning to get around to writing about our experience of stepping into a partnership position in this company, but I haven't gotten around to it. But, the story does have something to do with....

    * CONFIDENCE. This is a biggie. Many other people are intimidated by this man. I don't quite know why. He has accomplished tremendous things, for sure. He is THE leader in our area, for sure. He presents himself with confidence, and he won't put up with BS.

    He got there by having all those traits that I know we have too. In that way, we are not so different.

    * ASKING FOR what you want. It is so easy to back off what you really want because you think they would never do it, or that the dream is "too" big, or maybe it is just fear? Go after it! There is no reason not to! When we asked for a partnership position, rather than simply a consulting service, this man's eyes popped for a fraction of a second. He was surprised we had the gumption to ask. At the end of the day, we got what we asked for.

    * DEMANDING what you know you are worth. This is a big one too, and one that has taken years to sink in for us. In the beginning, we were willing to do what ever it took to make it. Now.... not so much. I know my time is worth something. I know my knowledge is worth something. I know my experience is worth something. I will never again give those things away for free.

    My suggestion for a first meeting....

    Talk about the industry!
    Relax a little and just get to know him.
    If you have an opportunity, show him a little of what you know, or how you view things (the industry, etc.)
    And of course.... if you see an opportunity... don't be afraid to ask for what you want!!

    And... I like Jill's close. If you talk to him about something.... maybe a resource you know of, etc. promise to email it to him. This will keep the communication lines flowing.
     
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  14. EastWind
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    EastWind Bronze Contributor

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    stay CONFIDENT
     
  15. mottdog
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    mottdog Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I totally dig Russ's post. All you have to do is ask? Now the quest to find the right mentor.
     
  16. Jill
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    Jill Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, Cat Man Du. You sound pretty passionate about your perspective on the matter. But the title of the thread is How do I find a Mentor. He's not looking for a partner at this point. He wants to learn from the guy, build a relationship, and eventually work with/for him.

    You seem to equate humility and meekness with weakness. The etymology of the word from the Greek which became meek meant "power under control". I think this is an extremely attractive character trait in any man (or woman too, I suppose). It is possible to demonstrate confidence and value, and still have a teachable, humble spirit. When MJ and SteveO and Russ and, well, all the other super successful posters here show up to the B&P meetups, they're just as busy taking notes from us Bag Boys as we are from them.

    I don't know you. So forgive me if I'm misreading you. But your approach screams loud, obnoxious, arrogant, used car salesman to me. Sid23 is more of a low key, smart, confident junior executive type. If a young punk came up to me acting all cocky like you suggest, I'd probably say, "Then what do you need me for? If you really have your sh!t so together, then go do it on your own. I have other places I could be right now." Okay, I wouldn't really say that. But that's what I would be thinking.

    I think you're right about maintaining posture. But humility is just as important, in my humble opinion. Quiet confidence is so much more impressive than swagger.

    P.S. And I think I know Bobo well enough to know that he wasn't seriously advising him to print out this thread.
     
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  17. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Cat Man Du, the advice you gave above may be who YOU are.

    And that was our advice to Sid: Be yourself.

    You want a shock? When it came to meeting someone I looked up to, I was definitely a "nervous-nellie that wasn’t able to present himself". Same thing happened when I was working around George Lucas. Or Rick McCallum. Or Ray Dolby. Or Phil Lesh. Or Alex Trebek.

    Or more than a dozen other folks whose names you'd recognize, and from whom I learned a lot about business, and life.

    I wound up getting to know not just them, but their families. They trusted me-- and liked me enough to invite me for dinner, or (sometimes) to even stay with them at their homes.

    I NEVER came across with the attitude you advocate.

    And at every single one of those first meetings, I was too nervous to see straight.

    But that's me. People are different.

    Be yourself-- that's the person your mentor needs to see.

    -Russ H.

    .
     
  18. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I think all these approaches would work entirely dependent on the mentor's personality. The aggressive, confident, assertive, and cocky approach wouldn't work on me ... I'd be like "get lost" if you're so self-assured, why do you need me? The softer, humble "kiss your a$$" approach would be effective for me.
     
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  19. Cat Man Du
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    Cat Man Du Contributor

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    There is a big diference.......................BETWEEN ..........Cocky and .........CONFIDENT.

    Nowhere ........... did I say to be cocky. If fact............I said just the opposite.

    4. Be gracious when achieved....... BE CONFIDENT.....WITHOUT ... BEING ARROGANT.

    Remenber.................Sid also had sent a resume earlier....He is looking for a JOB as well.

    Someone who brings ...VALUE ...does get the Mentor.

    No one should let themselves be intimidated......BY ANYONE!!! FOR ANY REASON.

    THIS IS THE WORLD..WE LIVE IN TODAY!:coffee:
     
  20. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Ok, let me REPHRASE with that one word removed "The aggressive, confident, and assertive approach wouldn't work on me." Translation: It wouldn't WORK ON ME

    Absolutely, but what about someone like me where MY VALUE RECEIVED is simply helping out a youngster? The guy that approaches me timid and "butt licking" would appeal to me as someone who genuinely needs help and stepped out of his comfort zone to get it.

    Again, your inference is that mentors are all about MONEY and ACHIEVEMENT when some of us could be about genuine HELP. The value I get in mentoring might be my own personal selfish desire to help someone achieve their goals and grow as an individual, not "what's in it for me" in terms of money or free time.

    Perhaps your world where it is seen as black and white ... your perception does not make it reality anymore than does mine. The world is cast in varying hues of gray ... not black, nor white. Love your strategy as one of the many to choose from dependent on the mentor, the delivery of absolution, not so much.
     
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  21. JScott
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    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Based on this, I'm going to guess that you have never successfully managed a large organization...

    I have, and I can promise you that if I took this approach, neither my employees nor my bosses would have respected me...and I would have had a very limited understanding of what was going on in my organization.

    Your stereotype above might be accurate for the personalities you see on TV, but in real life, the strong leaders have very different attitudes...
     
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  22. Bobo
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    Bobo Bronze Contributor

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    Cat Man ...

    You do offer one good piece of advice if one sifts through and paraphrases the following: Don't be in awe, be yourself and be confident.

    The advice you give, and after many years in rah rah sales meetings working on multi-million dollar deals I've heard the same pitches, has some merit. When you walk into a situation where you aren't the leader and nobody knows it then taking charge can be very effective.

    When you walk into a lunch with a guy who knows who you are, where you are and what you do and don't know then acting like the bear when he knows you are Bambi is stupid.

    Some of us have been in situations where we've dealt with the very top people in our respective professions and we've learned that they should be treated like people, you should be yourself. You should not, however, think they are some naive rookie who will be wowed by someone who, having arrived for the Indy 500 with their skateboard, presumes to tell them what they don't know about driving.

    Sorry but your advice will not get Sid a second meeting.

    This guy knows he's the more experienced guy in the room, why start off trying to bullshit him?

    Sid, be yourself, you'll do fine.
     
  23. Luke12321
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    Luke12321 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Just be yourself. Ask the questions you want to ask. After working with a mentor myself...I can you that it can be a very rewarding experience. Just talk business and let the convo go wherever it may lead to. Lastly, thank him for the chance to meet up...be grateful. He doesn't have to do it, but he is.
     
  24. Cat Man Du
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    Cat Man Du Contributor

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    OK Guys. ......................... Thank you for your input.

    We should change this Thread to “ The Battle for Your Mind” for this is what it’s all about.

    Even though these issues DO apply to Getting a Job***** Getting a Mentor **** and other situations.

    MJ said:

    Absolutely, but what about someone like me where MY VALUE RECEIVED is simply helping out a youngster? The guy that approaches me timid and "butt licking" would appeal to me as someone who genuinely needs help and stepped out of his comfort zone to get it.

    Yes, MJ ....You would help a youngster, but what if the timid one was a 50 year old unmotivated clerk. What Then????????????

    Value is, also, someone who is TEACHABLE.... We all will GIVE our time to one of these.

    We will make exceptions for the younger ones ie; Lambo---Ryan If I had their smarts at their age I would have been President by now.


    JSCOTT said:

    Based on this, I'm going to guess that you have never successfully managed a large organization...

    I have, and I can promise you that if I took this approach, neither my employees nor my bosses would have respected me...and I would have had a very limited understanding of what was going on in my organization.


    J. I have worked in the corporate world too: I managed a brokerage office: 100 salesman + paid staff and was in management for the “GYM” company before I was 21.

    BUT..... I, also worked as a BAGBOY in the 8 th grade. NONE of the managers spent TIME with me or any other B.B.’s either. SO LETS GET REAL.

    BOBO:

    You and the others are confusing ....CONFIDENCE with Cockiness .You all seem to think that you either have to be: COCKY or MEALY-MOUTHED. Of course, this is not the case.

    RUSS said:

    I was working around George Lucas. Or Rick_McCallum". Or Ray_Dolby". Or Phil_Lesh". Or Alex_Trebek".

    Am I supposed to be impressed?

    Russ, you may remember that I am a LA guy too.

    In high school... I was a power-lifter. Yes, GYMJ, I was part of this scene both before and after my ARMY hitch.

    In my senior year of highschool............I applied to the largest Gym company in the world. We had a 6 week training class before we could actually go to work.

    FASTLANE: I was the youngest person there............. I use to watch all the Brown-Noses try to work on our trainer/teacher. He would look over at me and smile. WHY, because I saw right away that the equipment was NOT put away and other things not done: I made sure all was in order before I left....NOBODY asked me to... I just did it......I showed VALUE. Long story short...I was hired to be part of the teaching staff. The company had many HOLLYWOOD people come thru, some were well-known co-stars....starlets. I saw them everyday.............I was transferred to the Beverly Hills studio where I was their trainer for a while and met more of them there. I became one of their top salesman.. in the top 5............while going to highschool and working part-time.


    I really want to thank you all........MODS and MJ for joining this discussion.

    First................. ATW..........Russ and others I have the utmost respect for.

    RUSS with his re-habs and SBL‘s............ Fast - Lane.

    ATW with her Partnership deal she just outlined briefly above.... Fast-Lane

    JSCOTT... Left corporate .. switched careers and : Work for self = Fast-Lane

    MJ ................. well the LAMBO says it all.

    You guys are my Hero’s ...and I really mean that.



    OK...................... I’M NOT GOING TO DEFEND MYSELF ANY MORE:

    YOU are all achievers ----------- BUT YOU HAVE MISSED IT!

    With this said ....................WE HAVE A DISAGREEMENT.
     
  25. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Nope. Just showing that my approach works with some pretty high powered people (many more than I listed, actually).

    I disagree, based purely on my own personal experience.



    -Russ H.
     
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