We all need a mentor - find one today

Mentors, not tormentors, are something we all need

We all have a relative, friend or acquaintance who is happy to offer unsolicited advice on a wide variety of topics. This advice is never limited to a subject with which they have expertise. In fact this person feels free to offer advice at any time and any place on a wide variety of topics they know nothing about. Don’t believe me? Take a look at social media, or head down to the local watering hole or coffee shop and listen to the person sitting next to you. They’ll let you know about global warming, the state of the economy, what to think, and for whom to vote. Do you really think you should listen to that person?

What do you do?

Don’t listen to them.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

The above quote by Jim Rohn may or may not be true, but it is something to be aware of when you are taking advice or spending time with non-entrepreneur acquaintances.

It means – don’t listen to the dufus sitting next to you in the bar. It means don’t listen to your brother-in-law who works for a company 9-5 and has never run his own business.

So what does this mean? Do you need to cut yourself off from everyone who you know who is not an entrepreneur?

No. It means – go out and find people who have done what you are trying to do, or who have done something similar to what you are trying to do. Find a mentor.

When Tori and I bought our small-town weekly newspaper we were lucky enough with the timing of our purchase that the annual state press association convention occurred a couple of months following the closing. We were advised to attend the convention by the previous owner. That was great advice.

At that three day convention we learned all kinds of stuff relevant to the running of our business. Subjects with which we had little experience. Everything from writing editorials to working with the US Postal Service in the delivery of our newspaper were covered over those three days in various workshops. We were surrounded by other small-town publishers with a passion for the business. But the best thing that came out of those three days was finding mentors. Yes I said mentors.We all need someone to give us guidance, choose yours carefully

We were fortunate to find these mentors. Our mentors ended up being another married couple who were also in the newspaper business, and highly successful in the business. The morning after the convention ended we met them for breakfast before beginning out trip home. We ended up talking for nearly three hours about the challenges we faced as new owners. This couple offered us encouragement and advice specific to those challenges. This relationship continued for years, as a matter of fact it continued until we sold the newspaper. They are now our friends.

In addition to mentors in the business, I sought out academic advice. I called the journalism department at the local state university campus and sought out what could be called an academic advisor. I was lucky enough to find a former small-town publisher who was now in the academic world. This publisher turned professor offered advice and provided guidance on both a practical and personal level.

I know there is a lot of talk about academics in ivory towers being disconnected from the “real” world.  That was not the case with this fellow, and I bet you can find this type of advisor too if you make the effort.

Remember, the people you surround yourself directly contribute to the success, or failure, of your project. Be conscious of the choices you make.

You are on your own, but you are not alone.

To read more about Jim Rohn and his philosophy on business go to his site: https://www.jimrohn.com/

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Bob Willis

Bob Willis is the Executive Director of Nebraska Rural Living and passionate supporter of rural entrepreneurship.
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