Lessons from my Mentor

One of my earlier mentors built a company from 30 employees to over 10,000 in 10 years. He took a small business into the Fortune 500 in under a decade.

I had the great privilege of sharing an office with him for half a year while we worked together at a startup.

While I was well compensated for my work at that time, truth be told I would have worked for free just to share an office, work together with, and learn from him.

I’ll be writing a few articles on what I’ve learned from him.

Here’s one nugget on the basics:

You can build an amazing company if you can just get ALL of the basics done at a B+ level -- no major glaring flaws in sales, marketing, finance, technology, operations, human resources, strategy, or legal.

At the time, he was an investor and interim Chief Operating Officer to a startup company we were both working in.

He blurted out this piece of wisdom in a moment of frustration late one night when we just resolved one major crisis in one department, only to discover two new crises in other departments.

It was one of those “sigh...” moments.

My takeaway from this was on the importance of execution.

For all I talk about being strategic, strategy is worthless if you can’t get the right things done at a reasonable level of competence.

Incidentally, I joined that startup as Employee 34 when it was at $600,000 in sales. After helping it go public, I left a year later at $6 million in sales. Today that company generates $240 million a year in sales with 1,000 employees.

Brilliant ideas are great; but getting great ideas DONE is essential.

This was something I did not ask to learn from my mentor. Rather than only teaching me what I wanted to know, he taught me what he thought I should know.

This is the difference between a teacher and a mentor.

Over the last several years, I have noticed that many of my readers have shifted from referring to me as a "teacher" to referring to me as a "mentor."

I take that as a high compliment indeed.

Going forward, I’ve decided to more fully embrace this mentorship role. Later this year, I’ll be taking a handful of my readers and developing more of a mentorship role with them.

This will include sharing not just what they want to learn, but what I think they need to learn. I’ll also be opening office hours so that the people I mentor can reach me for personalized assistance.

I’m very excited about this shift in my self identity and relationship with you and others.

If you’d like to be notified about my news and plans in this area, please complete the form below. I will make an announcement a little later this year.

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Mentorship with Victor Cheng

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