I was just reading an article about how Bill Gates gets mentorship from Warren Buffett. That’s right. We’ve got a couple of multi-billionaires, but Bill Gates still seeks out advice and counsel from Warren Buffett, another billionaire. And it reminded me of my own mentors, and how they are so important in developing business knowledge, experience, and let’s just face it, you know, when people have been through things that you haven’t been through, and they’re willing to share their experiences, what a great way to learn as a business owner.
I’ve been a mentor now, but you know, there was a time in my business career was I was actually mentored. Now I think back on who my first mentor was. And it wasn’t Warren Buffett, it was Big Jim. Big Jim was the lead guy at the Auglaize County Fair. And I was 16 years old, and it was my first job. And it was the first opportunity that I had to learn about business. Big Jim hired me to work at one of the booths that guessed the age and weight of customers. And I’m thinking, “Okay, I can do this.” You know how it works, somebody comes up and they pay you two dollars. And you guess either their age or their weight. And if you are wrong, they get to pick one of the products, or if you will, one of the toys that are behind you in the booth. I thought, “This is a bag of shells. I can do this.” Well, at the end of the first day, I looked back, and there were no gifts left in my booth. I had lost every one. Turns out I was horrible at guessing age and weight. And I figured I was going to get fired. I was just waiting for Big Jim to come and fire me, because I had lost all the toys on day one. So here comes Big Jim, and I’m nervous, and I said, “You know, I’m really sorry. I did a lot worse at guessing age and weight than I thought I would. And I got rid of all of our toys. And I’m sure that that’s not what you wanted to hear. I apologize. I’ll try to do better tomorrow.”And Big Jim looked at me with most of his teeth and he said, “Scott, I didn’t hire you because I thought you would be good at guessing somebody’s age or weight.” He said, “I hired you because I thought you would be good at attracting people to come and actually play. Because they paid two dollars for you to guess their age and weight, but the toy only cost me 50 cents. So whether you made the right choice or not, I was making money.”
I learned my first business lesson. Successful businesses know how to attract customers. It’s not your product. It’s not your marketing plan. It’s how you draw customers into your business because if you can draw customers, you can sell a product, and you can make a profit.I hope this helps. Because if you need a mentorship, surround yourself with smart people that have experience, that are willing to share it, that you trust. And your own decisions will become better. And I would conversely say, you should be a mentor. Find those that are younger than you, that you can help in your career, or in their career, and pass it along. Mentorship is important.