Book excerpt: Mentors and advisors

The book I’m writing, The Five-Day Turnaround, is written as a narrative, first-person story, and throughout I share tips and tricks on how the main character, Will, manages his time as a leader and CEO. Yes, Will is basically me, so these strategies are tools that I’ve honed over the years to help me be more successful.

Below is an unedited passage from the book, focusing on the process I use each morning to get going.

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As I sat down on a park bench to take in a little more of this beautiful morning, I reflected on the role that mentors had played in my life.

My belief was, no matter who you are or what you’re trying to accomplish, you can always use a good mentor or two. The question really becomes, who do you ask and how do you want to work with them?

What has always surprised me is that people are usually very open to being a mentor. When I approached Charles so many years ago, I didn’t really know what I wanted the relationship to be, only that I was incredibly impressed by him and wanted to sponge up whatever I could from his experience.

I’ve since learned that it’s better to go into the mentor-finding process knowing what you are hoping to accomplish. Ironically, Charles helped me see that. Do you want someone who can help you in the industry you’re in? Do you need advice from someone on a particular item, or from an on-going, general basis? Are you looking for someone who can help open doors and make introductions? Or something altogether different?

The next step is figuring out what cadence makes sense for both you and your mentor. When I started working with Charles, I was surprised by how busy his schedule was and thus, was hesitant to ask him to commit much time on a consistent basis. We settled into a rhythm of once a quarter, over lunch per his preference, and that seemed to work well for both of us.

When I get the chance to talk to young, aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders, I always tell them to do two things: build your network, and find some mentors. Those two things have helped grow my career as much as anything.