Most people want to buy a magic pill that will solve all of your problems while you kick back on your sofa and do nothing.
Lose 10 lbs over night (uh…yeah, okay.)
Become a gazillionaire in 90 days. (Hmmm… I don’t think so.)
“Magic pills” do not exist and never will.
Most problems require at least some level of effort to solve.
The only real question is how much.
For every problem you face in your career (and life), there’s the proven easier way to solve it or the hard way.
The trick, of course, is to find the proven easier way.
More specifically, the trick is to find the person who already solved the problem that you’re facing for the first time.
Every problem in life has been faced previously by someone, somewhere.
The key is finding him or her.
This is the premise behind why successful people have a larger and deeper network of relationships in their lives compared to less successful ones.
Early in your career, what you know often matters a little more than who you know.
As you progress in your career, who you knows drives a larger and larger portion of your success.
When you align yourself with high achieving, diverse, and interesting people, you discover two things:
1) They provide you with access to novel ideas, tools, and skills that give you a competitive advantage in your career.
2) They tend to connect you with other high achieving, diverse, and interesting people.
This cycle is self perpetuating.
The more high-powered, highly talented people you know… the more they introduce you to even MORE high-powered, highly talented people.
There are two kinds of relationships to seek out, nurture, and maintain.
1) PEERS – Like minded peers that share similar values working in a variety of fields including your own.
In short, find people in a similar career stage as you, facing the same issues, who have experience in your industry and other industries.
Form an alliance with them. Help them. Ask them to help you. Work as a team.
Together, you all get ahead further and faster than any one of you alone.
A strong, diverse team beats the lone individual every time.
2) MENTORS – People who are further ahead of you in their career path from whom you want to learn.
If you’re in a large company, find the person a few steps ahead of you that you admire, respect, and wish to learn from.
Get to know that person.
Learn from him or her.
You can ask them to be a formal mentor, but most are wary of making extra commitments.
It is better to develop the relationship informally.
Observe from a distance to start.
Connect over a coffee or lunch — something slightly less formal than a conference room meeting.
Ask them questions about themselves, their career, and any advice they have for you or the younger version of themselves.
Thank them a lot.
Ask if it would be okay to connect again at some time in the future; ask what would feel comfortable for them — in another 2 months, 3 months?
Say that you are super understanding that they are busy and their time is both valuable and limited; and it is okay if they are too busy… that you would understand.
Always give them the option of an out.
When interacting with very senior people, the more you signal that you’re highly respectful of their time, the more they are willing to help.
When you act as if you are entitled to their time, they feel disrespected and try to distance themselves from you.
In addition to mentors within your company, you want mentors outside your company too.
This provides you with access to ideas that aren’t as commonplace in your company. This provides you with a unique opportunity to import new ideas that aren’t already widespread within your own firm.
You can never have too many mentors who have already accomplished some aspect of what you want to accomplish in your life or career.
External mentors are often harder to find because of limited opportunities for contact.
If this has been the case for you and you’ve benefited from my writings, I wanted to mention that I do mentor a select group of my readers in a group mentorship program that I call my “Inner Circle.”
In this program, I pick a skill, concept, or tool that I teach my members each month via a long form, printed, monthly newsletter. I go into depth on a key skill needed to succeed in career and life.
(A good teacher teaches you what you want to know. A good mentor exposes you to ideas that you need to know, even if you don’t realize it yet.)
Members of my Inner Circle get a mix of learning what they want and what they need to learn.
I also hold regular office hours via video conference. Members get a chance to video conference with me and ask me their individual questions — especially those questions that also apply to others.
In addition, I host in-person breakfasts, lunch, and dinners for members in various cities around the world. For example, in August I will be hosting in-person members-only events in Reykjavik, Madrid, Dubai, Taipei, and Beijing.
I do plan to visit New York, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco towards the end of year or early next year — and would host similar events in those cities as well.
These are all opportunities for us to meet each other… and to meet the other people in my Inner Circle.
I only open up access to my Inner Circle program once or twice per year. I accept new members for only a few days, then the doors are closed.
The next and only opportunity to join in 2017 will be in July.
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