Your Most Important Relationships May Be With People You’ve Never Met

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Last week I taught a business and leadership bootcamp in Vermont to an incredible group of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and leaders. One of the topics that came up was mentorships and the value of a mentor.

The whole conversation started when we began talking about the five relationships you need to live a wealthy life. Wealthy, not just financially, but in health, relationships, community, career, and ultimately your fulfillment. The five relationships include your top 5 financial wealth determiners (the people you pour into daily), your top 25 allied resources (these are the five people that each of your five wealth determiners pour into), love (family, siblings, friends & co-workers), the person you determine wealth for, and mentors and role models. We could talk about these different relationships for hours, but let’s just focus on mentors and role models today.

After my class, several people emailed me to ask if I would be their mentor. Did I feel completely deserving of the request? Not really. Flattered? Definitely. But regardless, the answer wasn’t a quick yes. In fact, it wasn’t a yes at all! Being a mentor to someone (in the traditional sense) is an honor and commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly by either party. I consider a traditional mentor someone who is guiding you along your career path, coaching you through big life decisions, and providing you with advice specific to your business or career.

I’m nothing if not self-aware and I am definitely not a traditional mentor. I don’t have weekly coffee dates or monthly lunches with anyone in particular. So while, I may not be the [traditional] mentor for you, you should work to get mentors in as many areas of your life as possible, like a financial adviser, a business or career coach, or a personal, physical, or spiritual role model. But here’s the thing – these mentors and role models don’t have to be weekly coffee dates. Hell, you don’t even have to know them or have ever met them!

Let me explain. Mentoring or being a role model isn’t always about regularly meeting with someone. If you’re looking for a mentor in your life, all you have to do is open Instagram, pick up a great autobiography from your local bookstore, or attend a conference. It’s about finding the people (who you may know personally or not) that are truly living the life that you want in those six categories (financial, business, career, personal, physical, spiritual). It’s about following what they do and then implementing it. If you want to be a thought leader and motivational speaker then you might follow everything Tony Robbins does – from reading his books, watching his videos, and attending his live events. Not your style? Then maybe you follow Marie Forleo and do what she does. If you want to build an investment portfolio, then perhaps you read, listen to, and watch what Ray Dalio or Warren Buffet does. Regardless of what area you want to work on – there is a mentor and role model for you.

The trick is to really identify want you want and what lifestyle you want to lead and then find the people who are doing that. And be careful who you take advice from. For example, I wouldn’t recommend following someone who is a single narcissistic workaholic just because they make a lot of money, if your ultimate goal is to be financially wealthy AND have a fun and fulfilling family life. You also don’t want to follow people who haven’t really done what you want to do. People LOVE to give advice, but are they following it themselves? If not, move on. Fast!

So, like I said, I may not be a mentor in the traditional sense, but I do coach and mentor my leadership team and employees regularly. That is where I have chosen to devote my time and energy. These people are 100% invested in me as their leader and I am invested in them. And, yeah, it is pretty cool that people want me to be their mentor and might be looking to me as a role model for life or business. I wish I could spend one-on-one mentoring time with hundreds of people, but it’s just not feasible. It’s one of the reasons why I put so much time into creating content (webinars, blogs, podcasts, live events, etc.) and so much time pouring into my team, who in turn share our vision and mission through their own content and network. The people who happen to like what we are doing – great! Maybe they’ll follow my Ironman training schedule, or start to work between vacations, or allow their standards to be the bad guy with their team, or start Transcendental Meditation, or commit to reading 52 books a year. Those are the people who I do end up getting into relationship one way or another (as an attendee at an event, a future employee, or business partner).

So why are people looking for a mentor or role model in the first place? I think it’s a couple things. They are looking for proof that it’s possible to achieve the things in life that they want (money, travel, freedom, a family, writing a book, whatever). I think people are also craving growth and want to be inspired by someone to change their thinking and habits. But here’s what mentors are not. They are not miracle workers. They are not going to do the work for you. And they don’t always have the answers. But they just may give you enough inspiration to change your life forever.

My mentors and role models range from people I see regularly, to people I only talk to on the phone once a month, to people I have never met. They all provide incredible value to my life and I can only hope to do the same in turn over time. Here are my mentors and role models:

  • Dr. Smith – Spiritual mentor, specifically Transcendental Meditation
  • Gary Keller – Mentor in all areas of life
  • Tony Robbins – Role model for inspiration and energy
  • John Spinney – Physical mentor and coach
  • Ray Dalio – Mentor for business, spiritual (Ray also practices TM) role model, and role model for principles on life and work
  • Warren Buffett – Role model for business and investment philosophy (My particular favorite: “Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.”)

Who are your mentors and role models?

How to Use the Weekend to Set Yourself Up for a Successful Week

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Are you one of those people who has a bad case of the Mondays? Every Monday? Do you sing song lyrics like, “It’s just another Manic Monday,” or “But whenever Monday comes you can find me cryin’ all the time,” on your commute into the office at the beginning of the week? Well, you’re definitely not alone. And I think you have two choices here:

  1. Refresh your resume and start looking for another job. Clearly you are not happy or fulfilled in your current position if you are dreading Mondays. (If you need a new career opportunity – we’re always looking for hungry, humble, and people smart individuals. Email careers@adamhergenrother.com to chat! )
  2. Refresh your weekends so that you are setting yourself up for a successful week. If you genuinely enjoy your work and career, you may just need a reboot. Let’s talk about how.

While the seven day week can be traced back 4,000 years to Babylon, the first recorded mention of a weekend wasn’t until 1879. Back then, the weekend was a 1/2 day on Saturday and a full-day on Sunday. In 1908, a New England mill was the first American factory to institute the five day work week we know today. A full day of rest on Saturday and Sunday. So, how can you maximize that time in order to have a productive week?

Here are five things I recommend you do every weekend in order to rest, recover, and prepare yourself for a week of minimal stress and maximum results:

  1. FAMILY MEETING —> Whether your family includes yourself, your in-laws, and your five children or it’s just you and your partner, schedule a weekly family meeting for 30 minutes to an hour every week. This is the perfect time to connect to discuss the week ahead – who’s picking up the kids, what late meetings you might have, are there any dinners with friends or special events? Syncing up your calendars is a must. It’s also a good time to talk about any upcoming household items that need to be taken care of (like a new landscaping company or scheduling a handyman for repairs). Don’t forget to get on the same page with finances. Are there any big purchases coming up? Perhaps you want to aggressively pay down some debt. Discuss and make a plan and then check in weekly during your family meeting so that you actually make progress on these goals. Involve the kids as soon as they are old enough. Start them young learning about financial management and time management and they will be ahead of 95% of the adult population. Have fun! Grab your favorite coffee and get down to business. If you schedule these conversations weekly, you will significantly cut down on the mundane, uninspiring conversations with your partner and family and have much more time for deeper and meaningful interactions.
  2. SCHEDULE WORKOUTS —> You all know how important fitness is in my life. #fitnessfirst Exercise has such a huge impact on all areas of your life – mental clarity, focus, energy,  health, nutrition choices. Exercise truly leaks into all areas of your life. Use workouts as tool to be a better leader, partner, friend. Take the time to plan your workouts on the weekends. Yes, put the workouts in your calendar, but don’t forget to actually plan out what you are going to be doing during the allotted times so that you’re just not aimlessly taking selfies in the gym mirror. Have a plan and then execute. Better yet, get a trainer or coach who will tell you exactly what to do during your workout time. #leverage
  3. MEAL PLAN AND PREP —> Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. To be the best version of you – you have to take care of  yourself first. That starts on the weekend. Yes, it can be time consuming, but the investment of time on the weekends planning out your meals, prepping protein and cutting up veggies, and portioning out snacks will save you a ton of time during the week. And it will help you reach your health goals. You can save even more time by using a meal prep service, getting your groceries delivered, or ordering your groceries online for pick up. As the great Ben Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
  4. WEEKLY GOALS —> Regardless of what system you use (BestSelf Journal, basic planner, Gmail Tasks, 411, etc.) make sure you are strategically looking at what you need to accomplish during the week ahead to get you closer to your monthly and annual goals. What you do this week will either move you forward or backwards. Make every day count. Focus on the revenue generating activities that will move you and your business forward. Identify the 3-5 big things you need to accomplish and then make sure you block time into your calendar during the week to work on them. If it is not scheduled, it’s not real. Once it’s in your calendar, as long as you honor your commitment to yourself and do the “big thing” when it’s schedule in your calendar your results will be inevitable.
  5. UNPLUG —> One of the most important things you can do is unplug! Take time to rest and recover, whatever that looks like for you – hiking, skiing with the family, spa time, or reading a good book at home. You can’t be effective and productive if you are “on” all the time. Now, just like unplugging looks different for different people, the amount of time needed to unplug varies. Some people need an entire 48 hours with no work emails, others just need a couple “non-work” hours each day. Do what works for you, but honor that time. If you’re unplugged be unplugged and present in whatever moment you are in. Recharge and get ready for a kick ass week ahead!

Those are five basic principles I encourage my team to utilize on the weekends. If you want to take it a step further, here are three additional tactics I use on Sunday nights to make the shift from weekends to the work week.

  1. Do a detailed review of your calendar based on your current company objectives and shifting priorities. Add or cancel meetings as necessary. For example, you may need to postpone an interview for a new Controller if you have a development deal that needs to be renegotiated at the eleventh hour.
  2. Email your leadership team or your direct reports any ideas you had over the weekend you would like them to explore or take action on, questions, and any new directives for the week. The weekends offer great time to reflect and gain clarity, so you may be shifting course the following week. Make sure you communicate that to you team.
  3. Check your energy and alignment. This is all about mental and emotionally preparing to bring your best self into the office on Monday. Is there anything bothering you that you need to work through? Do it. Maybe that means doing an extra meditation session, an intense workout, journaling, or calling a trusted mentor. Make sure you are ready to show up and do work on Monday.

I’ve been following the above routine for years. For me, the weekend is a great mix of time with the family, time to read and think about my business, getting in a long Ironman training day, having great conversations with my wife, and getting organized and ready to crush the week ahead. If you do this every week, you will have a competitive advantage over the majority of the population. Having the discipline to have a purposeful and productive weekend sets you up for massive success. Not everyone is willing to do these things. But discipline equals freedom. And isn’t that what we’re all after?

How do you relax and recharge? What do you do to prepare for the week ahead?

 

 

 

 

People Are Your Best Business Investment

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I spent last weekend on a birthday adventure for my sister-in-law. We snowmobiled on the Trans-Quebec trails and stayed at a beautiful resort complete with incredible dinners and tons of spa time. This luxury resort has been in business for over 25 years and while much of it’s success is owed to the vision, execution, and business acumen of it’s eight shareholders, I didn’t see any of them over the weekend. It was the concierges, the massage therapists, the chefs, the wait staff, the housekeepers, etc. that made the entire trip an experience that we will remember for years to come.

Back in the office on Monday, I couldn’t help but think about my company. The ideas, the talent, the successes, the challenges, the various perspectives, the skills, and the personalities of the people all woven together to create the fabric of my organization. I’m not thinking about a marketing campaign, a development contract, or a new client testimonial. I’m thinking about Erin, Ben, and Caitlyn.

People will always be your best business investment. 

One of the hardest parts of starting and growing a business is knowing when and how to bring on additional help. Not having the right people in your organization can be the biggest barrier to your company’s growth. Often people wait way too long before pulling the trigger on their first hire. And what they don’t realize is that it isn’t really saving you money not to make that hire. Think about it. As a business owner, your time is usually best spent on sales/marketing, key relationships, strategy, and vision. All other tasks that take you away from those responsibilities are taking you away from additional revenue. People always tell me they can’t afford to hire an administrative assistant, a sales associate, or a marketing coordinator. But I say, how can you afford not to? Look, I get it. Making that first hire is a big step. More money is going out the door and you’re not sure when (if ever) you’ll see a return. But you’re thinking about it all wrong, people aren’t an expense or a cost, people are an investment. And if you are committed to growing your business, then you must master the art of leverage – recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and then leading and growing your employees.

If you are in the early stages of your business and a little gun shy about your first hire, then it’s time to think outside the box. Your first hire does not need to be a $120,000 a year marketing director or a $55,000 a year assistant. Here are some creative ways to add leverage to your life on a minimal budget so you can focus on the dollar producing activities that grow your business:

  1. Interns
  2. Part-time Employees
  3. Family Members
  4. Trade expertise with another sole-proprietor/entrepreneur
  5. Virtual Assistants
  6. Personal Assistants
  7. Outsource projects (like graphic design, social media, or bookkeeping)

The point is, investing time to bring on a virtual assistant or partner with another entrepenuer who you can trade your marketing expertise for their financial advice is only going to help you and your company grow. If I had $5,000 left in the bank, I would hire a part-time team member for 2 months, before ever thinking about spending it on technology or advertising. Why? Because if I went the software route, while I’m trying to build my business, I’m also having to figure out how to use the damn technology which will only slow down my focus on sales! And as we know the CEO should only be focused on the dollar producing activities.

If you are already a small business and understand the importance of having great people on your team, don’t stop! It’s not just a matter of hiring the right people, though, that’s a great first step. It’s continuing to hire great people because they will shape the culture of your organization, which will in turn either attract or repel additional talent. Beyond that, you’ve got to teach your team how to recruit and hire great staff. You must teach them the value of hiring people better than them at a particular job function so that you continue to level up the talent in your company.

This all sounds great when a company is consistently exceeding their revenue goals (sure, hire away!) but what about when a business is struggling? Often, when a business is looking to cut expenses, the first thing managers look at is reducing staff or instituting a hiring freeze. I believe in doing the opposite. I will look at every line item on our P&L and eliminate extra marketing, client events, and office supplies before I even think about reducing staff positions. Remember, your company is made up of the people that you’ve hired and cultivated; it is not built on your fancy conference room, new logo or latest software. Clients and customers care little about what’s going on behind the scenes, just that they receive exceptional value for whatever product or service they purchased and that they had a great experience along the way. People tend to do business with people they like. Invest in amazing people and keep investing in them and you will come out on top no matter the internal or external economic climate.

My mission at Adam Hergenrother Companies is personal growth through business success and that is not something I take lightly. Once you have the right people in the right seat on the bus, you’ve got to keep them engaged and continue to invest in them. Whether it’s an intern or a VP, we carefully select the team member and then pour into them daily so they grow. From weekly one-on-one coaching sessions, to an unlimited vacation and time off policy, to training events and industry conferences, to monthly book clubs – an organization that is committed to the growth of it’s employees is an organization that will continue to grow.

People are the cornerstone of your organization and will always be your best business investment. Truly leading through others is a humbling experience and takes years of practice. The hardest part about building a business is finding, hiring, developing, and shaping people. It takes years to really get to know people and to understand if they have what it takes to execute and achieve your vision. It will be painful at times. It will cost you time and money. But achieving success beyond what you are capable of alone and succeeding through others is a gift that keeps on giving.

Do you have a story about a great hire or how one of your team members changed the trajectory of your organization? Share in the comments below!