If you're a football fan here in the US, you know that last night the 2012 NFL Draft kicked off in prime time (college players being drafted to play Pro Football and become instant Millionaires, for those of you who may not know, and for some perspective).
The talent this year was big. These guys are bigger, faster, and more agile then ever. Many are physical freaks of nature, blessed to play the game. But many are not. Many got there through brutally hard work and fierce commitment. Growing up playing football all the way up to the NCAA Division 1-AA level, I know what goes on. I also know there is "one commonality" among all these high-level athletes that, also, seems to be a commonality among all high-level entrepreneurs....
They all put a major emphasis on "coaching." There's always some sort of coach(s) or trainer(s) or advisor(s) surrounding ALL of them. Many, since they were young, and some, simply in the form of their parent(s) as mentors, which we should all be as parents. I know I am, and strive to be always for my son (who turned 16 months old today).
So this week, a super article I have for you on what to look for in a coach or mentor. Read it closely. Often times, its only one or two people in our lives in the form of "coach" or "mentor" that changes everything for us. It has been for me, and countless others. I can point back to less than three people who served me as "coach" or "mentor" and opened doors for me that, otherwise, would NOT have been opened, and who knows where I'd be had it not been for them...
"10 Things To Look For In A Coach"
In my last Blog post,I wrote about "Fakers" in business, and it got a LOT of attention and ended up being published on a few major syndication networks. With good reason... because so many agree. And because so few are "Real" anymore these days.
That said, a friend of mine and a member of my Glazer-Kennedy Insider's Circle chapter here in South Florida, sent me the following article from Forbes on what to look for in coach or mentor. It's a great piece and a perfect follow up to my piece on "Fakers" in business. I think you'll enjoy this...
Peyton Manning signs a new deal for nearly $100 million to play football. Some guy named CC Sabathia signs last fall for $122 million to throw a fastball over a white piece of rubber. Both guys at the top of their game. Skill off the charts. Champions. Leaders.<p >And they still have 3 coaches… each.
You would think it crazy if Peyton suddenly declared he didn’t need a coach anymore. Can you hear him now? “Listen. I am the best. I know how to play and have it all figured out. What more can anyone teach me? What more do I need to learn? Nope. I am just going out there on my own now. No coaching needed. Just get out of my way.”
If these guys still need 3 coaches each, maybe you and I need at least 10...
Even the all-time greatest entrepreneur of our time, Steve Jobs, had a team of coaches. Sure, he called them “advisors” and “board members”, but it’s the same thing. The purpose is the same. To get counsel. To get advice.
One of the worst mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur is trying to go it alone. Like a lone-wolf. Out there on your own. Maybe starving to death.
When I spoke with one successful entrepreneur coach and mentor, she said this: “One of the big reasons entrepreneurs fail is they do not listen to the wisdom of others. They just refuse to get counsel.”
But it doesn't have to be this way. You and I can learn from others. We can get guidance. We can get coaching.
Don’t currently have a mentor or coach? Don’t know where to start?
Lucky for you I've got… "10 Traits To Look For In a Coach and Mentor."
1) Previous Entrepreneurial Experience -- Yes, this may seem obvious, but do you know how many mentors, consultants and coaches out there have never actually had their own business before? And no, their consulting business to help you doesn’t count.
Think of it this way: It would be like seeking marriage counseling from a person who has never been married. Um, yeah. Moving on please…
2) Variety of Experience as an Entrepreneur (Including the “F” Word) -- And one step further? Why not go for a mentor who has started or owned multiple businesses? Yes, the more variety the better. Remember, you’re looking for a mentor and coach who can help you see a different perspective on things. No better match than a serial entrepreneur -- especially one who has experienced success and yes: failure.
3) High Level of Integrity, Honesty and Respect -- Bruce Nordstrom of, well, Nordstrom used to say this: “We can hire nice people and teach them to sell, but we can’t hire salespeople and teach them to be nice.
In other words, you have to look at the core of the person whom you wish to be your coach and mentor. Their core character. If it’s somehow whacked -- better turn and run. Fast.
4) No “Yes-Man” Please -- It’s important you find someone who will give it to you straight. You don’t need a “yes-man” around, and you sure don’t need things sugar coated. You need real input. Real perspective. And real guidance. And yes, you get to make the final decision, but at least you’re getting some tangible input to go on. Oh, and a promise to make you rich in 30 days? See #3 above.
5) Big Picture Thinker -- You want a mentor who helps you think about the big picture, and then drills down to the details from there. One of the biggest hurdles entrepreneurs have is getting too close to their own ideas. You’ve got to have someone who can back you up a bit. Help you see the big vision. And then yes, help you build detailed strategies to get there.
6) Genuinely Cares About You -- You want someone who is genuinely concerned about helping you realize your dreams as an entrepreneur. Having a coach who only cares about themselves and cashing your check at the end of the week is a dead end road. No, they don’t need to bring you milk and cookies every day, but you get the point, right?
7) Encouraging & Empathetic -- This may seem counter to #4, but we’re not talking about the same thing here. You will need someone there to pick you up after you’ve gotten knocked to the ground. And believe me, as an entrepreneur, you will get knocked down.
So, it’s good to have a coach and mentor who will encourage you and cheer you on. And yes, be there to stick a bandage on your knee and tell you it’s going to be okay.
8) Results Oriented -- Ever been to a counselor who just wants to sit on the couch and talk about your feelings all the time? Day after day, week after week, month after month? Never really making any breakthrough and getting results on the problem? Believe me, you don’t want to go there. You want results and you want a mentor who will help you get them. Period.
9) Body of Work -- Try to find a coach and mentor who has created their own content and body of work. Meaning? Someone who is a thought leader and maybe written articles, books, or speeches on the entrepreneurial life. Again, this goes to #1 above — ‘tis better to have someone who has lived the life vs. just reading you a bedtime story about it.
10) Trusted Authority -- Lastly, you want a person who has credibility and is seen as an authority by others for their entrepreneurial wisdom. Quoted or found in major publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur or Inc. Magazine. A person who is well-thought of and knows what they’re doing. Basically, a trusted source and leader.
Do whatever it takes to find yourself a guy or gal who fits all the above. And yes, you could take shortcuts and disregard some of these traits. But why would you? We’re talking about your life here my friend...
And although you probably haven’t bagged that $100 million dollar deal yet, look to Peyton Manning and say “yes” to coaching. It may just change your business life... forever.
I agree with all 10. Hard not to. My recent Blog post on "Fakers" in business was mainly focused on #1, #9, and #10. In case you missed it, you can read it RIGHT HERE.
- Andrew J. Cass