The Power of Five

“You’re crazy. I am still sleeping at 7:30! Why would you set up a daily meeting that early?” Ted said. “You’re the president of the company… Why don’t you do it on your schedule?”

Ted’s reaction is not an unusual one when I mentioned to colleagues that I had a standing phone meeting with my top copywriter and marketing strategist at 7:30 in the morning Monday through Friday while I was president of a large financial publishing company. As a matter of fact, we had our morning conversations for about three years straight.

Sure, like Ted, most people thought I was crazy. However, I was well aware of the benefits these morning meetings offered to my business. But just as important, this one-on-one time was deeply critical to my own knowledge and expertise. More than just marketing strategy discussions, these meetings were personal mentoring sessions with one of the smartest and most successful direct response experts in the world.

Did I HAVE to do this? Of course not!

Did I WANT to do this? Of course I did!

What most people to this day just don’t get is that 7:30 in the morning was the perfect time for me. That’s because any time when I could get specific, useful advice and information that would improve my career and business was the perfect time.

The Power of Collective Brilliance

I’ve always been a pretty serious person when it comes to building my knowledge base. I grew up in a fairly modest environment where my parents struggled to maintain a middle class lifestyle. I could see how having an education could help me create a different sort of life for myself. So I set my sights on getting a college education. I knew my parents wouldn’t be able to help me much – if at all. So I started saving for college from the time I was 10 years old. I ended up paying every cent of my own college education.

When I got to college, I did not skip classes to hang out with my friends. I didn’t blow off class to sleep in because I was out late the night before. Instead, I soaked up every word my brain could hold during the day. At night, I reviewed my notes and rewrote them so that the next day I was ready for whatever was coming next.

I did not regret giving up parties or late-night socializing sessions. I was making a time and money investment in myself. I knew that I would be able to put every ounce of knowledge I accumulated to work for myself at some point in the future. Eventually, I was certain, the library in my mind would make me a lot of money.

So it will be no surprise to you that I refused to stop learning even after I’d finished school. I make it a point to try to learn something from every person I meet and every experience I have. I seek out the people who could help me grow my business or advance my career, and ask for their advice. And I have to say, the lessons I’ve learned from these personal success mentors have had a profound impact on my career and life.

Over and over again throughout my career, I’ve discovered the truth in the old saw “two heads are better than one.”

When I’ve had the chance to team up with or learn from the successful people in my industry, I’ve been able to skyrocket my knowledge, my earnings, and my business revenues.

Here are a few examples…

Success Mentor #1: Dick Benson

From the start of my business career I attended conferences and seminars as often as possible. In New York City, there was a plethora to choose from.  In 1985, when I saw that Dick Benson – a legend in the world of direct response marketing – was holding a very intimate roundtable, I knew I had to attend. Well, wouldn’t you know it? We had recently gotten a new VP of Human Resources who wanted to show the higher ups that she could save our company a boat load of money. She thought that $500 for a two-hour session was excessive and would not approve the expense.

This was my first corporate job out of college. I was making a whopping $12,000 a year. But I had a gut feeling that meeting Dick Benson would have a powerful effect on my life. Instead of missing the seminar, I paid for it myself.

That two-hour session changed the course of my career. Sure, I had read every book that Dick Benson had written… In a sense, I’d already read much of what he had to say. But when you are able to ask a guru questions that pertain to your business and your life specifically, you will find that the advice takes on new meaning… and that you can more easily take action and implement the advice you have learned.

That is exactly what I did.

I took one little idea I’d learn from Dick back to my employer. The idea was to include an 800 number on renewal offers. Up until that point, we only included a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) in the letters we sent to potential donors.  That one little idea brought in so much incremental revenue that within eight months I was promoted and my salary jumped to $20,000 a year.
But going to see Dick Benson was not only life-changing in that it helped boost my salary and advance my career. It taught me the tremendous value in finding advice from already-successful business people… and implementing that advice in my own life.

Success Mentor #2: Jeff MacDonald

My career went along fantastically in NYC for years. But like many people I suffered a devastating personal loss; my father passed away. Even though he had been ill for quite some time, I was still not prepared for the pain. My desire to escape New York was tremendous. So when an offer came my way to become Vice President of a large publishing company in Boca Raton, Florida, I grabbed it.

Little did I know that my new boss, Jeff McDonald, would have a huge impact on my career. He taught me about business. He introduced me to the works of Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, and Stephen Covey. He showed me how the principles they taught applied to our business.

Each evening we would review a lesson one on one. And it was on one of those evenings that Jeff spoke one little sentence that has stayed with me all these years:  “A good executive has the ability to face the facts.”

This is a mantra I’ve repeated to myself for years. Whether you have to face up to a partnership that’s not good for your business… Or you have to kill a product that’s not making money… Or you have to fire an employee you really like… Jeff’s words have helped me cut my losses and save plenty of money. Once you live that statement, your business will change for the better – forever!

Success Mentor #3: Clayton Makepeace

It was master copywriter and direct response legend Clayton Makepeace who taught me the anatomy of advertising copy. It was Clayton who showed me the importance of digging deep to understand the emotional needs and desires of your prospective customers. It was Clayton who taught me to concentrate on the end result and not get caught up with the reasons why something can’t get done. It was Clayton with whom I spent morning after morning on the phone, going through the needs of our company and how our marketing plans and advertising copy would exceed those needs.

Together, we made beautiful music and our company flourished.

Success Mentor #4: Mark Ford

I’m one of the lucky ones. For nearly four years I spent time one-on-one with business builder and marketing expert Mark Ford. Mark is the person who helped me become a better thinker, a better writer, a better marketer, and a better business person. He was the one person who helped me put it all together. He is the person who taught me the concept of tipping point ideas. Not only how to recognize them, but how to develop them and implement them into your business.

Success Mentor #5: Richard Branson

Once I made the decision to start Working Moms Only, my friend Joe Polish invited me to a private brainstorming session with Richard Branson.  However, this invitation did not come cheap.
Even though I have read every book Sir Richard has written, I knew I needed to be at that private meeting. So I paid $10,000 to attend. Yes $10,000 for 60 minutes! And you know what? I would do it again!

There were about 10 of us around a table and we each got to ask Richard his advice about our businesses. When we spoke about my business, not only did he give me some great advice, he also asked that I send him some content for him to review.  Then he directed me to a few people who could help me go forward.  I have since contacted these people and they have been of tremendous value.

The Push You Need to Succeed

As you can see, I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the top marketing and business minds in the world.  Each of these men helped contribute a critical piece of advice or information that helped me climb the ladder of success.

That’s why I take mentorship so seriously. It is 100 percent worthwhile to have a phone conversation at 7:30 each morning or spend $10,000 to get advice from someone who can help you expand your knowledge… build your expertise… or grow your business.

When you seriously consider joining any kind of live membership/mentorship program . . .

First . . .

Know what you want to achieve from the relationship. Have a clear understanding of your purpose and desired results. This ensures that you will find a suitable coach, and that you and your coach will find value in the relationship. This clarity also eliminates any future confusion regarding roles and expectations.

Next . . .

Examine the relationships with the people who have been your coaches in the past. Whether deliberately or not, each of us has had coaches in our lives. Think about those people and the qualities that you appreciated most about them.

Finally . . .

Dissect the potential coaches/mentors track record. Have they achieved GREAT and REPEATABLE success in the area you wish to?

Then . . .

Make a decision and take action.

[Ed. Note: MaryEllen Tribby has found great success in the business world and also manages to maintain her home life. Learn how she finds the time to live the best of both worlds on Working Mom’s Only.]