By Leon Goren
On June 6th, 2018, Michael Sonnenfeldt spoke to PEO’s Leadership Community about his book Think BIGGER and its key insights for Business Leaders. Sonnenfeldt is the founder and chairman of TIGER21, the premier peer-to-peer learning network for high-net-worth first-generation wealth creators in North America, Switzerland, and London. He is an accomplished entrepreneur, philanthropist and author. I highly recommend reading his book, which is filled with lessons learned, personal stories and real-life examples of both success and failure.
So many of his insights resonated with me; especially those surrounding the importance of mentorship. Here’s my interpretation of some of these takeaways:
1. You’re Never Too Smart – Or Too Old – For A Mentor
The truth is that the older, and presumably, the smarter you get, the less time you want to waste running down the wrong path. A mentor can provide you with good advice to help you achieve your goals faster and with less effort. I could not agree more with Sonnenfeldt, when he says that many of the most successful entrepreneurs have ‘deep experiences with mentors’. Sonnenfeldt, himself, credits his mentors for helping him become a better entrepreneur, investor, manager, citizen and person.
“It saves a lot of time, frustration and mistakes if you have someone who knows what he/she’s doing giving you advice.”
A mentor, or experienced guide, has many faces, depending on what your needs are in a specific point in your life or career. He lists five types of mentors: Wise Veteran; Eager Teacher; Generous Peer; Life Coach; Good Listener – you never have to limit yourself to just one mentor…
2. The Right Partner Can Multiply Your Potential
Sentiments and personal connections aside, both your mentors and business partners should be used as strategic tools throughout your career to both maximize your personal potential to succeed and to drive your organization. Aside from complimenting your short falls, a mentor and business partner should also:
- Do what they say they will
- Have a track record of doing what they say they will
- Share your core values and have an aligned vision of your goals and objectives
3. Surround Yourself With People Who Are Smarter Than You
Most successful entrepreneurs have the confidence to surround themselves with individuals who are smarter than themselves. They do this not only in their organization but outside in their personal lives to ensure they continue to push themselves to learn and personally develop. The above is easier said than done; however, there are a few steps one can take:
- Join a confidential peer advisory board that fits the bill above.
- Make developing the right relationships a priority within your life – both in business and personally. This requires you putting aside time to make this happen each week.
- Have the confidence to hire people that are or have the potential to be a better leader than yourself.
4. Diversity Makes You Smarter
Sonnenfeldt and I are on the same page about diversity:
“The ultimate benefit of a peer-to-peer group is not what you have in common but what’s different about your backgrounds and business experiences.”
Looking at an opportunity or a challenge from the eyes of a legal expert will yield different insights than seeing things from an operational, HR or marketing perspective. Asking questions and understanding facts from varying facets of a business produces more robust strategies with stronger solutions.
At the end of the day, no one can “do it alone”. Asking a mentor for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of respect for that person’s skills and experience. Understanding where our shortfalls are and how we can circumvent them is a skill on its own!