It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Lots going on, with lots of new developments.
I’ve had inspiration lately to blog about the need for mentors in life. In my line of work I meet a lot of young entrepreneurs and a lot of aspiring people and very few, when asked, have ever thought about having a mentor. Many have egos the size of Steve Jobs and don’t feel they need one as they know it all and others never thought they could ever get close to people in the know to draw upon their experience.
In my opinion mentors are one of the most important things in life whether that be personal or business. A mentor can be anyone whether it’s a person you get to know through books, such as autobiographies and/or social media or someone you know in real life. They help us grow as human beings.
I personally have a number of mentors, some from autobiographies I’ve read and then followed up by following these mentors on the likes of twitter and in the media. Then I have a number of people in real life I can pick up the phone to and ask a question any time, day or night.
For me business is the most important place for me to have a mentor and I don’t just have one mentor, I have a number. Different people, with different points of view. This allows me to consider all sides of the story before making the right decision. Being in the tech industry I obviously look up to guys like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, Larry Ellison and Larry Page. Five guys who have built five of the top tech companies in the world. I’ve read all their books, read books on the origins of all their companies and even own shares in them. I’ve followed who I can on twitter and always make a point of knowing what’s going on in the media about them.
You can learn a lot about people this way, especially reading, and I’m not talking about reading silly books like ‘how to get rich’ by so and so. Reading autobiographies allows you to understand that person much more than you ordinarily can. You learn about their history so you understand why they made the decisions they’ve made with the life experiences they have. It allows you to compare your life experience to theirs and see if you still admire that person enough to try and do the same thing.
You’ll also discover that all the guys I’ve mentioned all had mentors. Just because you’re a success doesn’t mean that you didn’t have someone to get advice from. You will be a lot more successful in life with mentors.
Its always vitally important to also be able to pick up the phone and give someone a call and get their advice. Whether that be a family member like your dad or mum or a business professional.
I personally have four people I look up to, my dad, Hratch Ogali (He owned an holistic business called the Mind Clinic with an entrepreneurial past), Mike Rutherford (He owns the UK’s largest impaired travel insurer AllClear), and American friend Tom Brannigan (Runs a charity called the Green Bag Project after being in the mortgage sector and selling a few businesses).
My dad was a huge source of information for me over the years and yet he probably didn’t even realise it. He wasn’t a captain of industry, he was just a great guy working for British Telecom making sure he could put a roof over our heads and food on the table. He provided both my brother and I with a fantastic life, whilst working extremely hard with both my mum and him working two jobs on occasions for us to get by. He taught me so many things in his lifetime, but some of most vital were the importance of hard work, dedication and importance of listening. Sadly my dad passed away nearly 2 years ago now, so unfortunately never got to tell him the importance of his wisdom in my life, but even though his gone I still have the memories to draw upon whenever I feel I need his opinion.
Hratch was a great guy. Stubborn in his ways, but always someone you could turn too to give you the inspiration to persevere when everyone else thought you were crazy. Before he sadly passed away, he was a soul who gave you confidence and always made you feel like everything was going to be alright. His attitude, perseverance and smile will always teach me new things as I draw upon our memories to help with the future decisions.
Both Mike and Tom have been friends for over a decade now and both have brought great knowledge over the years of past war stories in the business world. Both have experience of working for major corporations and building their own businesses. Both have taught me the value of listening and caring about others on a wider capacity, not just friends and family. It’s amazing what you can learn over a coffee or meal table if you just listen. Everyday I’m still learning more and more from these guys.
One other element I have in my armoury is LinkedIn. It’s such a great tool for any business person or entrepreneur. It gives you access to some really top connections and allows you to connect with these people and start asking questions. I suggest you use LinkedIn to its full capacity, but a word of warning; don’t spam, you’ll piss a lot of people off if you do.
Business, especially networking and deals can be a lot like dating, when you meet the right person or come across the right deal, you just know.
From all four of these guys I have a lot more to learn, all I need to do is be humble and keep my ears open. Never let the ego overshadow and make you think you know it all. There’s always someone else out there who has been through something similar who will be able to advise you.
Life is simpler when you have people you can call upon.