Monday, October 22, 2012

Mentors Are For Men Only, Or Are They?

Mentors have been credited with helping people throughout their careers. Francis Ford Coppola, for instance, mentored George Lucas; Warren Buffet was a mentor to Bill Gates,; Ray Charles had Quincy Jones as a mentor; the list goes on.

At a recent conference, I asked attendees who their first mentor was, and the ways, if any, the mentor influenced their view of business today. One young entrepreneur admired the ruthlessness of Donald Trump. "He once said, 'You have to think anyway, so why not think big?' Too many people are scared of thinking big."

An inventor nearby immediately jumped in with his mentor's sage words: "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

"I can't think of a better lesson for developing team-building skills than what Ben Franklin proclaimed," the young business owner added.

While most of the entrepreneurs zeroed in on a parent, family member, person in their field, or famous person, one soft-spoken entrepreneur said Nature was his first mentor.

Intrigued, I asked how Nature influenced him. He said:

• I learned that the wind can rip something valuable from you (in his case, a balloon at the age of five!) and that in business harsh words can rip away the ability to communicate.

• I learned that a tree's trunk is its backbone, and can support you in any weather. In business, your vision, mission, and culture combined are the backbone of your company and support what you stand for.

• I learned too much heat burns, but not enough heat leaves everyone cold. In business, conflict is a cry for connection, but too much unresolved conflict can lead to breakdowns and loss of valuable production time.

• I learned there is a cycle to life, whether the cycle pertains to the circulation of rain, the dying of a leaf and the rebirth of another, or the birth and death of loved ones. In business, there is a cycle as well: The business supports a team that supports the customers that supports the business - and round and round it goes. If the cycle is broken, the business dies.

In a recent Catalyst survey sponsored by InPower Women, the resulting data, based on a survey of 4000 MBAs across the world, showed that "mentors play a large role on 'a potential's career advancement', though ironically, the study also showed that in our current market that while more women hire mentors, men actually benefit more from mentorships; however, both benefited from having a mentor.

One has to consider that current economics may be partially to blame for that imbalance. Sadly, women still fall behind men in the areas of pay increases, promotions, and career advancements. The survey showed that men who had mentors added to their earnings by a significant percentage. Having a mentor also resulted in stronger relationships and more career advancement opportunities. And while the average man with a mentors was paid $6,726 more than men without mentors, and women with mentors were paid "$661 more than women without [mentors]", the study proved that whether you're a man or a woman, having a mentor bettered a person's income, promotion potential, and career advancements significantly more than those professionals who didn't have mentors.

Clearly, we have a ways to go before balancing the scales where women and men in business are concerned, but what's also clear is that having a mentor improves one's potential, whether that's in lifestyle, increased income, advancement, or self-confidence.

As for me, my mentor was my grandfather, who taught me to fish. I learned at a very early age:

1. Lines get tangled. In business, lines of communication can get tangled, but patience, team management skills, and learning when to cut one's losses are necessary lessons.

2. You have to have the right bait to catch different fish. The same is true in business. One would not "feed" all customers the same bait. To know what bait to use in fishing, you have to understand the fish you're trying to catch. To know what bait to use in business, you have to know your customers.

3. Once you've caught a fish on the line, it does not mean you've caught the fish. You have to (carefully) reel it in, or it can get away. The same is true in business. You may think you have a customer on the line, but if you don't follow up, carefully reeling the customer in with added value, the competition will snatch him or her up right from under you.

Business Coaches are mentors. They're investments you make in yourself and your business. The "values" you receive are the necessary systems that will be put in place so that you are leading your business and it is not stringing you along, or worse, dragging you under.

So, now I ask you, who was your mentor growing up? Who is your mentor now? Don't have one? Well, maybe it's time to reel one in.

For coaching and proven systems to advance your business, visit and Peter Williamson, Master Licensee, helps you find instant and lasting solutions to increase your profits by 61% or more - guaranteed. Email

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