I talked with Shark Kevin Harrington about how to find and secure the perfect mentor.
Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to have been mentored by the likes of 1-800-Flowers.com chairman Jim McCann and Entrepreneurs' Organization co-founder Verne Harnish. I've gained some incredibly valuable guidance and insight from these relationships, but it wasn't until I became a mentor myself that I realized the value goes both ways. That's why I was particularly intrigued to read Mentor to Millions, a book co-written by former Shark Tank Shark Kevin Harrington and his own mentee, Mark Timms.
Mentor to Millions tells the story of Mark and Kevin's mentor-mentee relationship and how it led Mark to an entirely new understanding of business, family, and success. Throughout, Kevin shares valuable insights from his own life as a lifelong entrepreneur, mentee, and mentor, along with wisdom for finding your own ideal mentor.
Interestingly, Kevin states that we all have de facto mentors already, whether we've chosen them or not. Likewise, we all act as mentor to somebody, intentionally or otherwise. In Mentor to Millions, Kevin explains why you should be intentional about your choice of mentor or mentee, and how to choose wisely.
I chatted with Kevin and Mark to talk all things mentorship! Here, Kevin and Mark share their top five things to consider when looking for the perfect mentor:
1. Relevant experience.
Kevin recommends choosing a mentor with success not just in your industry, but in your specific business goals. As an example, let's say you're building your business with a view to sell it for six or seven figures after a couple years. Two mentors might be at the top of their game, but you'll get more value from the mentor with several exits under their belt than you will from the mentor with one or two established long-term businesses.
2. The ability to scale up.
Kevin designs businesses to be scalable from day one, which is how he helped energy drink company Celsius thrive against market leaders during the Covid-19 outbreak. This ability to scale was one of the key reasons Mark chose Kevin as a mentor. Mark wanted to scale his business past $10 million, and Kevin had already scaled 20 businesses to $100 million.
Mark says: "I now have my own $100 million business, and a new e-commerce business set to reach $10 million this year. Look for somebody who's done something on a scale you haven't yet, and learn everything you can from them."
3. A holistic vision.
In Mentor to Millions, Mark recounts the pivotal realization that his family had taken a back seat to his work. Until that moment, he'd felt pulled between those two worlds, feeling like he could only excel in one or the other. That changed under Kevin's mentorship, and both areas of his life began to thrive.
Mark says: "I took the information that Kevin gave me and learned how to scale my business way beyond what I'd been able to achieve before. I also applied those lessons to my life and my relationships, and the results were just as impressive. Find a mentor who understands that success on the personal side is key to success on the business side, and vice versa. Look for somebody who sees the whole picture."
4. Network alignment.
In addition to offering you the benefit of their experience, your mentor will open you up to a lot of new connections. Kevin suggests thinking beyond the mentor themselves and looking at the network they sit within, and how this might align with your goals.
To illustrate this point, Kevin recounts the story of a product vendor who asked him for help selling to the military. Kevin approached ex-generals at the nearby MacDill Air Force Base to act as mentors, eventually securing the help of retired General Chip Diehl and opening doors across the entire military.
5. Can you be their best student?
This one's on you! Kevin and Mark both stress that if you're going to choose a high-performing mentor, you better be ready to put in the work and become their best student.
Mark says: "These are busy people, and many others would kill to have their undivided attention. They want their mentees to succeed, so respect their time and their advice and they'll pour everything they have into you. They'll go above and beyond and invest in you exponentially."
So, how do you find and secure the perfect mentor?
As Kevin points out, you won't get them by sticking your head in the sand and waiting for them to come to you.
He says: "Network. Join clubs, organizations, and associations. Join Entrepreneur's Organization. Go to your chamber of commerce, go to trade shows, volunteer on boards. Whatever you do, just get out there."
Kevin's not above a little creative networking, either! He once parlayed a donation to Richard Branson's charity into two days hanging out with the man himself on Necker Island. And if that's a little ambitious for you, he suggests visiting venues your potential mentors frequent and simply striking up a good old-fashioned conversation.
Kevin's final piece of advice: "Put a plan of action together, just like a business plan, get out there and execute it, and find yourself the best mentor you can get. "
Mentor to Millions is out September 22nd 2020. Pre-order your copy now.
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