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How to Get Your Dream Mentor in Seven Easy Steps

How to Get Your Dream Mentor in Seven Easy Steps

A mentor is the quickest path to success in whatever you want to achieve. The joy of a mentor is that they’re someone who has already been there–they know the tricks of the trade, and who you need to connect with in order to succeed. They also know the life lessons you’ll need to have in order to make it, and have a better sense of just how hard it is.

But how do you get a mentor?

There are two huge misconceptions with mentorship:

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  1. That it has to be a rigid formal relationship, almost like an apprenticeship from hundreds of years ago
  2. That you have to know the person already

In fact, you don’t need to know someone or even have a relationship with them to make them your mentor, and it doesn’t need to be a formal structured relationship. You can get much of the mentorship experience simply by studying the lives of people you want to be like.

Find someone, learn their history, and start using them as your life mentor in 7 easy steps:

1. Pick your target

Before you can get started, you need someone you want to mentor you. Naturally you don’t want to pick just anyone–your mentor should be someone who really inspires you to be the best that you can be.

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Try to find people who have been very successful in the field that you’re interested in, and who aren’t averse to the public eye. For this “remote-mentorship” system to work, you need to be able to find out a lot about them.

They don’t necessarily need to be alive though–there are a lot of successful people from history who you can use as mentors that have very well documented histories. Benjamin Franklin, for example, has his own autobiography as well as multiply biographies written by others.

2. Find all of their personal work

Next you need to find as much as you possibly can of their original works. Have they written books? Gone on interviews? Do they have a blog or Twitter? Find as much of it as possible. Their blog and social media will give you snippets of their thoughts. Their books will give you deeper insights into their stances on things, and hopefully deeper insights into their lives. The interviews will help supplement some of the questions you wish you could ask but can’t yet, and you’ll get to see them interacting with another person as opposed to just throwing their thoughts out in the ether. 

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3. Find other people’s work about them

If they’ve been successful, then other people are talking about them as well. Try to find news articles, books, blog posts, and other commentary on things that they’ve done. It’s useful to see an outsiders perspective on how people were successful, and they might bring in insights that the mentor themselves never realized. This is also a great way to find other possible mentors–it’s likely that if someone wrote about your mentor, they also wrote about other similar people who you might be interested in learning more about.

4. Take careful notes

Once you’ve read through everything once, go back through it and try to figure out the big turning points in their life, big lessons, what makes up their philosophy today, how they view the world. Look for patterns, look for major life experiences, and look for things that they talk about a lot. If they make a habit to repeat the same quote over and over again, that’s a sign it’s really important to them. Or if they mention another author, philosopher, politician, a lot it’s a sign that you might be interested in that personas well.

5. Compare it to where you are now

Don’t get demotivated by how successful they are! They started somewhere too, and at one point they were at the same level you are now. Dig through their life until you find when they were roughly where you are now. What was their next step? What did they go out and learn? What did they experience? Who did they talk to? Instead of looking just at where they are now, focus on where they were and how that compares to your current situation.

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6. Replicate some of their big life experiences

Now that you know when they were at the same level you are now, you can start to look for the big things that helped them get to that next step. Maybe they went on a complete isolation camping trip for a week, maybe they tried starting a company and it failed, maybe they read a few select books. Figure out what their big turning points were and then recreate them for yourself. Some of this might be a little scary, but that’s alright. Doing the things you’re afraid of is part of how you can learn the most.

7. Keep the wheel turning

As you go through this process, keep repeating it as you get closer to your goals. Keep absorbing information about them, and keep working yourself towards their success. Don’t become a carbon copy, but absorb the important lessons as if they were there coaching you the whole way. You’ll have gotten all of the benefits of a mentor, without having them formally be there to tell you what to do.

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Nat Eliason

Writer and Host of Nat Chat

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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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