Becoming the Successful Entrepreneur You Aspire to be

You can tell a lot about a person by the company that they keep. There’s a saying that goes something like: You become the average of the six people that you spend the most time with.

So many people I know keep asking me again and again if I could be their mentor.

For entrepreneurs, the concept of mentorship is one that can be both powerful and elusive. Mentors can help you perform better, point out shortcomings in your business model and make introductions to help further your career.

However, many of us spend a good deal of time without ever finding that one perfectly wise, helpful, been-there-done-that successful individual to take us under his or her wings and navigate the bumpy road to success.

I advocate that you stop waiting for this mythical mentor and instead, embrace the idea of being your own mentor by connecting with the right people – mostly superior to you at all levels.

When you play for example tennis, the best way to improve your own game is to play with someone superior to you. This allows you to rise to the challenge of bringing your play up to the other player’s level, rather than holding back. Even if you are evenly matched with a competitor, it can be hard for you to improve.

When I learn a new skill or enter a new arena, I seek out the people at the absolute highest level. Sometimes, this means paying for that privilege.

When I started playing polo I trained with the best players in the world such as Facundo Pieres and that’s how I got to where I am today. Same goes in my finance career with Michael Milken and in my career as a physical commodities trader with the late Marc Rich.

So always ask yourself: Can the people around you provide you with the opportunities you are looking for and get you to the next level? If you are only networking, masterminding and interacting with those at your level who have the same types of contacts, they may not be able to push you to step up to the next level, and they will unlikely be able to refer you to those next level opportunities that you seek.

I see it as a challenge, particularly for people who stick to certain categories-only networking groups. While these groups have value, sometimes they are missing the opportunity to connect with those much more value-added individuals who can help recommend them for new opportunities.

Bottom Line: Get out of your comfort zone and start pushing your limits and building your Midas Touch. There is no better way to improve. Besides, you can’t always be the student, so when you can, remember that there are others that can benefit from your guidance. As you improve whatever skills you have, let a novice play with you from time to time to get exposure. Pay it forward, as there will always be more to learn and more to give.

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Written by

Ziad K. Abdelnour, Wall Street financier, trader and author is President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc., a private family office that backs accomplished operating executives in growing their businesses both organically and through acquisitions and trades physical commodities – mostly oil derivatives – throughout the world.