The power of a mentor is immeasurable.
What is a mentor you ask? The dictionary says mentor means someone who guides another to greater success.
ANGELA FLOTKEN, MARKETING MANAGER
When I first went into marketing many years ago the president of the company I worked for at the time, set me up with my first mentor, Angela Flotken, Marketing Manager of Buckingham Asset Management. I was very hesitant to meet with her because first of all, I was new to the marketing industry, and second of all, I did not want to appear like I didn’t know what I was doing. I was scared that she would see right through me and frankly, I did not know what this whole mentor thing was about. I was just told to go meet with her and that she would be my new mentor.
Well, thank goodness she was my first mentor, because she was as kind and as nurturing of a mentor as anyone could ask for. She taught me everything I would need to know about the functions of being a marketing manager, and more importantly she taught me the importance of reading to stay at the forefront of my department. I was always a reader, but the books she handed me were different; “The Purple Cow” by Seth Godin, and “TheBig Moo.” Both of these books shaped the way I designed our marketing department in the early years and still have an impact on my every day life as I continue to try to be “remarkable,” each day.
Angela would always say to me that I could do anything I wanted. She told me to remember that it was not impossible to get everything done, and to outsource. I was so afraid of that word. “Outsource.” It would later become my best friend.
BARRY ROGERS, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL SALES
My next mentor, and now one of my closest friends, Barry Rogers, Director of Global Sales and Marketing for Haas Factory Outlet, has impacted my life in ways that I never expected. His industry is manufacturing. He has a background as an executive for over 40 years.Barry has introduced me to movers and shakers for the past few years, but that’s not really where his impact really made a difference in my life. My life was most impacted with Barry from our relationship on a spiritual level. Although we do meet monthly about business related topics, we also have conversations every now and then that impact me that go very deep into religion.Barry has helped me grow closer to God. Having someone to talk to about religion and to ask questions to that is a friend, is one of the best feelings you can ever have. Having someone to pray with about things happening on your job, in your marriage, and in your children’s lives is…well, its one of the best darn things you can imagine. This alone is a reason to have a mentor relationship. I did not know when I met Barry that this would be the type of mentor relationship we would have, nor did he. It started out as him teaching me all about marketing from a manufacturing level and how to reach people globally. Now our relationship is one where I can call him at the drop of a dime, and know that we can talk about any issue I have whether it’s to figure out the best way to handle a situation or to pray for a co-worker.
KIM CROUCH, ATTORNEY AND BEST SELLING AUTHOR
I met Kim Crouch when I was co-hosting my radio show several years ago on WGNU. She actually was a guest on my show. Then many years later we reconnected and she needed some marketing help. However, the relationship quickly turned from needing help to me wanting to just turn the faucet on and overwhelm her with more than just what she was asking for. Sometimes in life you will find people who you want to give your all to. Those people are the ones who you are connected to for some divine reason. Enter my next mentor, Kim Crouch, Attorney at Law. Who knew at the time she was an attorney, a successful business owner, a real estate owner of multiple homes that she rents out, and a best seller author of several books. This was divinely ordered indeed! We were fast friends and have been attached at the hip ever since 2009 when she advised me to start my own business. She was one of the first people to say to me, “Syl, you should start your own thing, you can do it!” Next thing you know….I had a business in about two months and was pushing out websites left and right! Kim taught me several things as my mentor, one of the best tools she gave me was goal setting and also financial advice (that was much needed). Kim has actually given seminars on financial strategies so the fact that she would guide me on my road to success with my finances was very rewarding. Without Kim’s expertise and her loving way of coaching me with a stern hand, I might not be where I am today. Just the other day, I was waivering back and forth as to whether or not I should bend with pricing or not. Kim helped me to understand that I have come to a point in my life that allows me to be able to charge a specific price point based on my own knowledge and creativity. If someone does not want to pay for my creativity they have an option to go elsewhere. Wow…Kim has always had a way with words. Kim has become an extended member of my family. I could not imagine how my business would work without her and quite frankly I can’t imagine a friendship without her.
ALYSON KENDALL, VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Alyson Kendall, Vice President of Business Development at Feature Group, is one of my favorite mentors. Without her, I can say that I would not know any of the technology available on the internet today. Alyson knows everything about everything when it comes to technology. She told me what classes to take so that I would be ahead of the competition and also allowed me to come sit with her one on one so that I could learn from her regarding programming and design several times over the past few years. Whether I needed to learn about cascading style sheets, grid 960, drupal coding, or video editing, Alyson knows EVERYTHING! Her clients range from Maytag to names I’m not at liberty to mention. So trust me, she can make code do anything including turn your website into liquid GOLD! (and she taught me how to do it all out of the kindness of her heart!)
When I started my business I went into this because a lot of people pushed me. Alyson is one of the people who had her hands on my back pushing me…hard! I can recall talking to her on the phone one day very upset because I thought I would be laid off from my job and I quite frankly could not afford it since my husband was not working. Her words were stern and will stay with me always. She told me, “Syl, you cannot just give up right now because you are smart. If you lose your job today what would happen? You would start selling websites right? You would make a lot of money right? You must not give up. You can do this. You are smarter than most people I know in this business, so keep your head up and keep getting smarter. Come on now, pick yourself up and make some money!” I have not forgotten how stern yet how soft and nurturing she was with me. She didn’t coddle me and say hey Syl don’t worry come on over here and work for me, she instead told me to get real, and do what I needed to do to make the money. I did just that and now I have what is becoming a successful business.
WAYLAN PHILLIPS, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Lastly, I would like to mention Waylan Phillips, Executive Producer and Creative Director of Cooley’s Video. This is one of my more interesting mentors only because of the industry that he is in. He is in the entertainment industry so it’s just interesting to get to follow his trail of what he does. He was the producer on the Michael Jackson “This is it,” movie for example. So you can imagine how exciting it can be just to have a conversation with him.But on the other hand, he is so down to earth, sometimes I forget that he is the executive producer. I was introduced to him by a dear friend who wanted me to work with him. That did not pan out, however he was kind enough to reach out to mentor me. Over the past 3 years we have had a monthly meeting and it’s been great. We meet once a month over the phone regarding business and if I need to I can count on him. He has shown me exactly what I need to do when it comes to solution finding in business and sometimes that is just what a person needs as an executive or business owner. To be able to bounce problems off of someone else who has been there – done that. Waylan is someone who can solve problems quickly and gets to the point very fast (which can be stressful for someone who is a talker like me – lol!). I love all of my mentors just the same.
So what does all of this mean to you as a business owner? Well, having a mentor has shaped who I am. These people have kept me in line. They have molded me and helped me become successful in life as a person and as a business woman. If you do not have a mentor, I strongly suggest you reach out to find one. If you have not had the opportunity to mentor anyone, then I encourage you reach out to someone and ask them if you can be their mentor or coach. It’s one of the most rewarding opportunities you’ll ever have in life.