By MaryEllen Triiby
“You’re crazy. I am still sleeping at 7:30! Why would you set up a daily meeting that early?" Ted said. "You're the president of the company… Why don’t you do it on your schedule?”
Ted's reaction is not an unusual one when I mentioned to colleagues that I had a standing phone meeting with my top copywriter and marketing strategist at 7:30 in the morning Monday through Friday. We had our morning conversations for about three years straight.
Sure, like Ted, most people thought I was crazy. However, I was well aware of the benefits these morning meetings offered to my business. But just as important, this one-on-one time was deeply critical to my own knowledge and expertise. More than just marketing strategy discussions, these meetings were personal mentoring sessions with one of the smartest and most successful direct response experts in the world.
Did I HAVE to do this? Of course not!
Did I WANT to do this? Of course I did!
What most people to this day just don’t get is that 7:30 in the morning was the perfect time for me. That's because any time when I could get specific, useful advice and information that would improve my career and business was the perfect time.
The Power of Collective Brilliance
I’ve always been a pretty serious person when it comes to building my knowledge base. I grew up in a fairly modest environment where my parents struggled to maintain a middle class lifestyle. I could see how having an education could help me create a different sort of life for myself. So I set my sights on getting a college education. I knew my parents wouldn't be able to help me much - if at all. So I started saving for college from the time I was 10 years old. I ended up paying every cent of my own college education.
When I got to college, I did not skip classes to hang out with my friends. I didn't blow off class by sleeping in because I was out late the night before. Instead, I soaked up every word my brain could hold during the day. At night, I reviewed my notes and rewrote them so that the next day I was ready for whatever was coming next.
I did not regret giving up parties or late-night socializing sessions. I was making a time and money investment in myself. I knew that I would be able to put every ounce of knowledge I accumulated to work for myself at some point in the future. Eventually, I was certain, the library in my mind would make me a lot of money.
So it will be no surprise to you that I refused to stop learning even after I'd finished school. I make it a point to try to learn something from every person I meet and every experience I have. I seek out the people who could help me grow my business or advance my career, and ask for their advice. And I have to say, the lessons I've learned from these personal success mentors have had a profound impact on my career and life.
Over and over again throughout my career, I've discovered the truth in the old saw "two heads are better than one."
When I've had the chance to team up with or learn from the successful people in my industry, I've been able to skyrocket my knowledge, my earnings, and my business revenues.
Here are a few examples…
Success Mentor #1: Dick Benson
From the start of my business career I attended conferences and seminars as often as possible. In New York City, there was a plethora to choose from. In 1985, when I saw that Dick Benson - a legend in the world of direct response marketing - was holding a very intimate roundtable, I knew I had to attend. Well, wouldn’t you know it? We had recently hired a new VP of Human Resources who wanted to show the higher ups that she could save our company a boat load of money. She thought that $500 for a two-hour session was excessive and would not approve the expense.
This was my first corporate job out of college. I was making a whopping $12,000 a year. But I had a gut feeling that meeting Dick Benson would have a powerful effect on my life. Instead of missing the seminar, I paid for it myself.
That two-hour session changed the course of my career. Sure, I had read every book that Dick Benson had written… In a sense, I'd already read much of what he had to say. But when you are able to ask a guru questions that pertain to your business and your life specifically, you will find that the advice takes on new meaning… and that you can more easily take action and implement the advice you have learned.
That is exactly what I did.
I took one little idea I'd learn from Dick back to my employer. The idea was to include an 800 number on renewal offers. Up until that point, we only included a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) in the letters we sent to potential donors. That one little idea brought in so much incremental revenue that within eight months I was promoted and my salary jumped to $20,000 a year.
But going to see Dick Benson was not only life-changing in that it helped boost my salary and advance my career. It taught me the tremendous value in finding advice from already-successful businesspeople… and implementing that advice in my own life.
Success Mentor #2: Jeff MacDonald
My career went along fantastically in NYC for years. But like many people I suffered a devastating personal loss; my father passed away. Even though he had been ill for quite some time I was still not prepared for the pain. My desire to escape New York was tremendous. So when an offer came my way to become Vice President of a large publishing company in Boca Raton, Florida, I grabbed it.
Little did I know that my new boss, Jeff McDonald, would have a huge impact on my career. He taught me about business. He introduced me to the works of Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, and Stephen Covey. He showed me how the principles they taught applied to our business.
Each evening we would review a lesson one on one. And it was on one of those evenings that Jeff spoke one little sentence that has stayed with all these years: “A good executive has the ability to face the facts.”
This is a mantra I've repeated to myself for years. Whether you have to face up to a partnership that's not good for your business… Or you have to kill a product that's not making money… Or you have to fire an employee you really like… Jeff's words have helped me cut my losses and save plenty of money. Once you live that statement, your business will change for the better – forever!
Success Mentor #3: Clayton Makepeace
It was master copywriter and direct response legend Clayton Makepeace who taught me the anatomy of advertising copy. It was Clayton who showed me the importance of digging deep to understand the emotional needs and desires of your prospective customers. It was Clayton who taught me to concentrate on the end result and not get caught up with the reasons why something can’t get done. It was Clayton with whom I spent morning after morning on the phone, going through the needs of our company and how our marketing plans and advertising copy would exceed those needs.
Together, we made beautiful music and our company flourished.
Success Mentor #4: Michael Masterson
I’m one of the lucky ones. For nearly the last four years I spent time one-on-one with business builder and marketing expert Michael Masterson. Michael is the person who helped me become a better thinker, a better writer, a better marketer, and a better businessperson. He was the one person who helped me put it all together. He is the person who taught me the concept of tipping point ideas. Not only how to recognize them, but how to develop them and implement them into your business.
Success Mentor #5: Richard Branson
Once I made the decision to start Working Moms Only, my friend Joe Polish invited me to a private brainstorming session with Richard Branson. However, this invitation did not come cheap.
Even though I have read every book Sir Richard has written, I knew I needed to be at that private meeting. So I paid $10,000 to attend. Yes $10,000 for 60 minutes! And you know what? I would do it again!
There were about 10 of us around a table and we each got to ask Richard his advice about our businesses. When we spoke about my business, not only did he give me some great advice, he also asked that I send him some content for him to review. Then he directed me to a few people who could help me going forward. I have since contacted these people and they have been of tremendous value.
The Push You Need to Succeed
As you can see, I have had the opportunity to learn from some of the top marketing and business minds in the world. Each of these men helped contribute a critical piece of advice or information that helped me climb the ladder of success.
That's why I take mentorship so seriously. It is 100 percent worthwhile to have a phone conversation at 7:30 each morning or spend $10,000 to get advice from someone who can help you expand your knowledge… build your expertise… or grow your business.
But out of all the stellar marketing and business building advice these men gave me or pointed me toward… Of all the contacts they helped me make… Of all the promotions their advice led to and all the sales that resulted from something I learned from them…
There was something missing.
The one thing I needed to learn was how to balance a successful business life with my family life. You see, as much I love my work, I love my family more. And I was not willing to miss out on spending quality time with them. I refused to miss out on the precious moments of my children’s lives. I refused to become a stranger to my husband and put my dreams above his. And I refused to compromise my core beliefs and values.
I knew that if I could find another woman like me – a woman who valued her career but refused to put her family second – I could learn how to have everything I wanted. The successful career. The close relationships with my kids. The loving marriage.
So for years, I searched for someone who could help me learn. I wanted a mentor… but I couldn’t find someone who had the same kind of lifestyle I wanted and was willing to share her secrets.
Now, I’m not saying there are no successful moms out there. But when you take a close look at most of them, you see that many of them have teams of nannies, housekeepers, cooks, and drivers helping them out. That’s an entirely different lifestyle from the one I have. (And I’m guessing that you may not have a team of nannies, housekeepers, cooks, and drivers at your beck and call either!)
Among the other people I admired, many offered expertise in the business realm. But, to be honest, business was the top priority for many of them. Which meant that their business success came at the expense of their families and personal lives.
When you have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants in order to accelerate your own growth, it’s a chance you have a duty to pursue. But when you don’t have a specific mentor to show you the shortcuts to success, you must pave your own path.
Without a mentor to guide me, I was forced to find my own secrets to blending the two facets of my life into one seamless whole. Today - over 13 years of hard work and trial and error - I have developed a specific system for doing exactly that.
I was certain of the value I brought to my family and the companies I was running… And - quite frankly - I knew I could have and excel at both.
Because of the systems I’ve developed and implemented, I'm proud to say that I DO excel at both. I have headed up multi-million dollar marketing divisions. I've run multi-million dollar companies. I've authored a best-selling book. I've started my own business from scratch.
But I've also been there for my son's baseball games. For my daughter's soccer practice. For my kids' first days of school. For my husband's business successes. I have a happy and healthy family and a loving marriage. AND I have a fulfilling, successful career.
I can only imagine how much better my life would be had I been able to find someone to show me the way. In fact, this is what drove me to start Working Moms Only. I want to help guide you toward the successful, balanced, purposeful life you deserve. And I want to give you the mentorship that I never had.
So this is what I need to know: If you could ask ANYONE to help you meet the specific goals in your business and personal life, who would it be? I am willing to find that person and ask her (or him!) to divulge her secrets in an issue of Working Moms Only or via a special teleseminar. But I need to hear from you.
You can respond right here, right now! Email me directly at email@example.com
Learning from the people who have been there before you is quite possibly the best way to reach your goals in the quickest time possible. Now’s your chance to name your ideal mentor… and possibly hear from her (or him) in these pages.
So help me help you - talk to me, tell me your ideal mentor right here. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you and helping you move closer to the life of your dreams.