The Effects of a True Mentor
When I was a young man, at 15 years old, I went to work at a horse farm. There, I got to see a father and son work together. I watched this father yell at his son, and the son yell at his father. I would then watch the two of them go at it and then apologize to each other.
I had never seen that in my life. My dad had already split at this point in my life, and he had a pretty bad temper.
I was shocked by the interactions between the father and son.
That blew me away, I could not believe there were grown men that made up, and that really affected me.
The father of the pair was gentle and a strong leader, he was practical and a hard worker, and the mentor I needed at the time.
Time went by and I soon met another guy, an elder at my church, someone I would go to for advice. At one point, he even loaned me money to get consulting for myself. He really invested in me.
When things went wrong, he would sit down with me and say that if he were me, he wouldn’t know exactly what to do either, and then offered what he would consider doing. He would never tell me what to do, he wanted me to think. It wasn't until I was older that I realized exactly what he was up to.
This man was very powerful and successful, he was also converservtive in business, something I needed in my life.
I was in my late twenties when I heard that Greg Sands was having a meeting at his house. I had heard about Greg through someone else—how this guy had done this, this, and this—how successful he was. But the meeting was for 10 people, already full, and I didn’t really have an invite. I called my friend and told him that I didn’t think I was going to make it and he said, “Aaron, if I had to sit on the porch with a Solo cup up to the window listening to everything being said in that house, I would be there.”
That woke me up, “I’m not hungry enough” I thought, and it hit me. This is a huge opportunity. I called and got the news that they would squeeze me in the meeting.
At the time, I was probably doing $60,000 to $80,000 a month. I had one store, but lots of hopes and dreams. Towards the end of the meeting, everyone started opening up their laptops and showing Greg possible upcoming opportunities and plans they had. He was looking at them and going “horrible, next! That’s a horrible location, next!”
I showed him pictures of my shop at the time, and he said, “you're too smart to go out of business, if you ever get in trouble, call me.”
Greg has given me a ton of advice during the years, and we still keep in touch to this day.
Through my past experiences, I have learned that a mentor is someone who can relate to where you're at; they can walk you through why doing something a certain way is the right decision.
When time and money is burning a hole in your pocket, and you want to run out and do something right away, that mentor is telling you to hold on. When you're too conservative or too nervous, that mentor is pushing you.
As an owner, you can’t always see where you’re trying to go or what you should be doing next. Each opportunity can have mystery wrapped around it, cloaking its real intentions and you don't know if it is good or bad. When you become more successful, more opportunities appear and old habits of how you viewed things when your shop was small come out, by saying “yes” to every opportunity.
As success and opportunities rise, a switch happens, and you have to start telling people “no.”
This is the time when a mentor becomes a super healthy resource for an owner, to get an outside perspective. You'll start to find that mentors begin to take an interest in you, and it’s very important to bring them into your life quickly. Everybody and their dog is trying to get you to do something, and half of the time, the opportunity is totally wrong for your business.
A true mentor is not somebody you pay, not somebody have to bribe in some way, not transactional. A mentor is someone looking for a place to plant his or her seeds of greatness, as their career fades into the sunset and someone else’s comes up in the sunrise.