My life changing advice from John Allen:
“Whenever you are taking on a new challenge, make sure you have a good mentor to help you navigate through it.”
We were both serving on an advisory board at a conference in Las Vegas and I only had spoken with him briefly, but his words stuck with me.
A few years later, I left my old job to work for John. I was considered a successful salesperson at the time. I had spoken at conferences, served on advisory boards, and had strong relationships in my field. However, John was unlike anyone I had ever met! Each week he closed new accounts that would have made my yearly quota at my old job. I told my husband, “This guy is like a ninja!” That is when I started jokingly calling him the Sales Ninja. I remembered his advice from the conference, and decided to ask if he would be a mentor to me.
So began my Sales Ninja training.
Choosing a mentor is a big deal. It is a one of the best predictors of your earning potential and professional achievement. I have heard people say that you are the sum of the 5 people you keep closest to you. Your mentor will help you navigate through life when things get murky. They will help you make some of the most important decisions in your career. Choosing a mentor is choosing who you will resemble someday, so take the decision seriously. I am fortunate enough to have two mentors who fit these criteria:
A good mentor wants you to be successful.
When choosing a mentor, look for someone who enjoys sharing their expertise and skills with you. They should believe in you enough to advocate for you and help you find your niche. They will never feel threatened by your success or gloat when you fail. A good mentor will be happy to step out of the spotlight so you can shine more. They will help you recover when you have a setback, and celebrate when you conquer a challenge. They invest time and effort into you on a regular basis. They believe in you, and help you believe in yourself. A good mentor will say “Go do this…” but the best mentors will say “Let’s go do this!”
A good mentor will say, 'Go do this...' but the best mentors will say, 'Let's go do this!' Click To Tweet
A good mentor has a good reputation.
A non-negotiable when choosing a mentor is integrity. Your mentor should be integral in all of their dealings. You should look at your mentor and want to resemble them someday. Watch how they deal with stress. When someone mistreats them, how do they handle it? What do people in your field have to say about them? I have never heard anyone say something negative about John Allen or Don Peck’s character, which is one of the many reasons I trust them fully as my mentors.
A good mentor is honest.
Your mentor will have to tell you things you do not want to hear. You will have to ask for and accept candid feedback. If they are not willing to share constructive criticism, you will not grow to your full potential. They are also honest enough to tell you about their own failures and shortcomings. This cannot happen unless you have established a foundation of trust.
A good mentor realizes that learning is a two way street.
Your mentor should value your opinion, ask you how you would handle a situation, and recognize that they can learn from you as well. They should ask you questions to understand what motivates you and help you think through problems. Your meetings should not be an information dump- they should involve dynamic conversation that benefits both of you. You should leave your meetings feeling challenged, motivated to tackle your next goal, and excited about life.
A good mentor is already successful in ways that you hope to be.
Your mentor should love what they are doing and show enthusiasm for their career. When you are around them, you should feel excited about your job and want to do it well. They should have expertise in the area you want to grow, and have connections in that space. The best mentors will connect you to the people you need to work with in order to reach new levels of success.
Choosing the right mentor is giving someone the power to influence your character, habits, goals, and your development as a professional. Choose carefully, and then work hard to make it a relationship that is valuable for both of you.