#1559 – Mentors and Proteges

““My chief want in life is someone who shall make me do what I can.”” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most of my achievements are the result of partnerships. Top on the list – of course – are my three spectacular children, products of a partnership with my spouse. My first $100-million-plus business was the result of a partnership in which I was the apprentice and my partner the master. A current business venture is the product of an equal partnership at one level and a mentor/protege relationship at another. My other multi-million-dollar business ventures are all partnerships, as are most of my real-estate deals. Even ETR is a partnership with several people.

Today, I’d like to talk specifically about the partnership between a mentor and a protege, mainly because this type of partnership has had a profound effect on my life.

First, let’s talk about the relationship from the point of view of the protege.

Hook Up With a Master

When learning how to excel in a new career, a quality learning program can take you a long way toward acquiring the financially valuable skill of your choice. But you can accelerate your progress by spending several months or a year working at the foot of a master.

Rembrandt did it. He learned from Pieter Lastman, one of the greatest artists of the 17th century. And Michelangelo studied under Donatello, the greatest sculptor of his time.

As a marketer, I had a mentor too – a true master. I wouldn’t be where I am today without JSN’s mentorship. When he looked at me, he saw potential. And he took the time and money to help me learn how to become a businessman and learn this very valuable skill. Because of our close working relationship, I was able to go from an income of $75,000 to one of more than $250,000 in 18 months. That’s the difference a mentor/protege relationship can make.

My experience with JSN not only made me wealthy, it taught me many things – among them, the value of a knowledgeable advisor.

As your career or business develops, you’ll face problems and opportunities you haven’t met before. In such cases, it helps to have the advice of someone who’s been there before. You might consider hiring a consultant – but my experience is that a consultant’s primary job is to sell you, not teach you.

The very best athletes, entertainers, and business leaders all have someone in their corner that they can go to for advice, leadership, and teaching. Sadly, the average person has no coach or, even worse, allows himself to be influenced by those who have never achieved a high level of success.

If you don’t already have one, make it a goal to find a mentor who will help fine-tune your game, hold you accountable, and who is not afraid to criticize when necessary.

Once you’ve found your mentor, you’ll be well on your way to success. Then it will be your turn to share your wisdom with someone who has superstar potential.

So let’s talk about that part of the relationship now.

The Best Investment I Ever Made

I was once asked, “What’s the best investment you ever made?”

My answer? Undeniably, it was the time and money I put into about a dozen human beings.

I’m not trying to flatter anyone. But if I were to calculate the actual money in (including my valuable time) and money out, over the long run, there is no question. I’ve made my biggest money by investing in people.

The great thing about investing in great people is that the return compounds. You see, great people – well-taught and motivated – hire, train, and motivate other good people. And that enlarges a business in a geometric fashion.

Great people will not only make you rich, they will simplify your life. In the early years of your relationship, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time on them. But then, they will become independent and operate on your behalf without needing much (if anything) from you. And even when they strike out on their own, they will always be happy to help you out in the future.

I am sure that more than 75% of the wealth I have acquired was created by people I believed in and mentored. Put differently: If I had spent my career trying only to make myself rich instead of helping to develop the careers of others, I’d be a much poorer person today.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]