Mentors are an uncelebrated group of devoted individuals, who often give their time in return for nothing more than your carrying on their legacy of giving back. If you have a mentor, you know the advice, conversations, guidance, interest and encouragement may be the single greatest determinant of your success. A mentor can help you keep a good job, gain a promotion or help you transition to a position more suited to your nature, your personal brand and your skills.
Isn’t it wonderful to have someone not just rooting for you, but acting as your advocate, sounding board and trusted advisor?
Every year I choose two people to mentor, although if you looked at my calendar, you would wonder why. Or more directly ask: how do they get fit into such a demanding schedule? I ask myself the same question every week. But, somehow the time gets set aside and the sessions take place.
The two people I mentor are simply and truly wonderful.
They are hardworking, self-motivated and put into practice everything we cover. We have a terrific dialogue, where we raise questions, go over details, discuss potential strategies and end with a list of tactical changes for them to put into play.
The best part is they report back their progress.
Sometimes I get a text that shares the triumph of their actions. I get to hear them crowing about their latest achievement. Sometimes I get a urgent text that asks a need-to-know-right-now question. I tap back some alternatives, with some predictions about how they will be received.
I welcome these short interruptions as much as our mentoring sessions, because they reflect how seriously these individuals are taking our time together.
That’s all the thanks mentors need.
You might not have a formal mentoring relationship, like the ones I have with my mentees. You might not have the same magnitude of access, attention or advice from a mentor. But you may have quite a number of people who have taken an interest in you, answered some questions or provided some direction for you.
Those less formal relationships are the ones that you might want to honor at this time of the US Thanksgiving holiday. Send a card, an email, make a call or text the people who have helped you out this year. Let them know what you’ve done, how far you’ve come and if you’ve passed on their legacy, by doing a little mentoring of your own.
Yes, now is the time to give thanks to all the people who have done at least a little something to guide you, been a shoulder for you or in some way made your life better. I have a long list of those people, since being a mentor does not mean I know it all – I just know some of the finest people in business, and they have made my journey easier, safer and richer.
You are one of my informal mentors. Each week, you give me a destination; a time to reflect on what’s important and what I have to share about it in a blog that’s read by people all around the world. Without that responsibility, my life would not be as rich or filled with the connectedness I share with 4.5 million people who read my blogs, books, posts or attend my learning programs.
So two words from me to reflect on now: thank you.
As a corporate director of global marketing, a former Coke executive (in 190 countries around the world) and an instructor of Global Marketing at UCLAx: I could not be more cross-culturally inclined. So, with all the authority that I can muster, I tell you this.
There is zero communication between people of different countries or cultures.
To be successful, you must start with the belief that you are not just talking a different language than the other party: you are talking about concepts that you in no way share with anyone from another country or culture. Of course, culture means you don’t have to step outside your own office or Skype to dust up the differences.
What differs between cultures? The meaning of everything.
“Funds are being wired to you today.” That has no meaning whatsoever.
Neither do documents they sign. Leases. Contracts. Approvals.
Nor conventional business practices like paying employees. Paying rent. Paying any bill. Bank accounts having money in them. Reimbursing expenses. Having reasonable inventory on hand. Gluten-free, fragrance free and sulfate-free.
None of those concepts are universal.
In fact, the violation of what may seem like really basic business 101 procedures, or illegal business practices and ethics to you? Not even close to what the other party believes the definitions or boundaries are.
Hence, among the questions I ask most in global business right now is this.
How MANY is amazing? This in response to:
“We had an amazing response at the trade show.”
“We have an amazing number of products in our line.”
“The media coverage was amazing.”
Once again, I ask. How many is amazing?
Because, as a classically trained and practicing marketer: I have metrics on my mind. Simple ones like: we need a specific number of qualified prospects to sign up as actual customers, to generate measurable income to sustain or grow a business.
Of course, growth is anther concept that is not universal.
For me, growth means more revenue and profit. Increasing the product line, when you see evidence of sales from other products. Expanding to other countries as your current markets generate the income to do so.
Because metrics don’t mean a thing if the other party simply rages at vendors who want to be paid. Not apologetic. They get righteously angry at an unpaid vendor who won’t ship more? Who knew? They want you to convince the vendor, landlord, or clients that zero is one million dollars? Apparently this is done in other lands, just not one on planet Earth as I know it.
So fair warning. Do not believe anything from anyone. Do not think you heard what you heard, even though you recorded the conversation (with everyone’s permission). Listening to that audio over and over to see what went wrong? It will only drive you insane.
In order to have any communication, you have to believe you have nothing in common: not language, not meaning, and not intention. It’s exactly as Jim Camp says in his book about successful negotiations among any two parties, Start with NO!
As the distance between us all grows smaller, because WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime and jet airplanes make the world seem like we are all in this together: you realize one thing.
How far from each other we truly are.