Who do you want to be like?

My 16 year old niece is a junior in high school and working 3 jobs. Overachiever for sure. She is blessed to have 3 awesome bosses who are going the extra step by being a mentor to her. Last Monday night while frosting donuts at job #1, her boss posed the question “If you won the lottery, why would you get out of bed in the morning?” She thought about it for a few minutes and then shared her thoughts with him which started a philosophical discussion that had her mind in high gear when she got off work at midnight. Side note – because I am a night owl, I always hear from her when she gets home no matter how late! We had a great conversation cut short of course so she could get to sleep, but continued the next evening via Face Time.

Those conversations got me started thinking about mentors. I know we all have mentors in our life, hopefully beginning at home with our parents, but I started thinking more about the mentors I encountered once I left home. The first one I met during my freshman year in college – Bill, was unlike anyone I’d ever been around. He came into a lecture class to talk about advertising and his presentation blew me away. I remember thinking “I want to be like him.” I didn’t even know what that meant but I knew he had something I wanted to know more about.

Because Cindy and I so often get asked, “What makes a good mentor and how do I find one?” we created a FREE CHEAT SHEET, “5 Must-Knows about Mentoring.”

My sophomore year in college I was the editor of the yearbook and he was the sponsor so I had frequent interactions with him. He hired me to work for him that summer. He introduced me to the concept of marketing; until I spent time with Bill, I was planning to major in sociology and save the world – I think that’s a noble cause but not where my gifts lie – and I ended up getting my degree in marketing.

One of the best pieces of advice I got from Bill was when I was a senior in college moving to Portland, Oregon. I called him and asked him what kind of job I should look for. I still remember his words verbatim: “If you want to be in marketing management you need to get some down the street sales experience.” So I did. I sold photocopiers. No I didn’t work for Xerox. I was working for a small dealership selling copiers you’ve never heard of. It was not glamorous. I had to carry them around in my car . . . in a station wagon . . . on a modified hospital gurney.

Did I say this was NOT a glamorous job? Did it pay off? Big time. It punched my ticket. I didn’t enjoy it; I wasn’t particularly good at it, but it was a “paying the dues” job. There were truly days I didn’t want to get out of bed and at those times I recalled Bill’s counsel. I would drive to an area of what was industrial Northwest Portland and go from door to door cold calling. (Xers and Millennials – cold calling is when you walk into a business and say, “Hi, I’m Lavonne Mullet from XYZ Company and I’m hoping you can tell me who I need to talk about your photocopying needs.”) Yes, I got thrown out of an office or two.

And once I sold a copier on a cold call – just happened to have one in my car.

So where am I going with this? My mentor embodied what I wanted to do. He charted a path for me when he told me what I had to do to get to where I wanted to go. He was so right. Having sales experience set me apart and gave me a perspective many of my marketing peers only knew in theory. And I did get to do what I loved and that has enabled me to pursue the career I have now – coaching.

Because Cindy and I so often get asked, “What makes a good mentor and how do I find one?” we created a FREE CHEAT SHEET, “5 Must-Knows about Mentoring.”

I hope you’ll check it out!

Keep in mind – none of the 5 suggestions will be of any benefit to you if you don’t take action! I’d love to hear from you.

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