Who's Your Mentor?

Ryan Phelan · November 20, 2017 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4a8c

"We jump in where we feel other people are not doing it very well. And we try to do it even better."

"We jump in where we feel other people are not doing it very well. And we try to do it even better."

That's how Sir Richard Branson described his business beliefs during a recent episode of ABC's Shark Tank. It made tremendous sense to me because that what we believe at Adestra in terms of product focus and customer service. When I talked with Adestra executives about a new career, that was the narrative I heard most often from owners and investors.

It got me thinking, too. As a start-up, who's your mentor? I've written before about having an advisory board of experts that you can call on for help and advice and who are invested in your company's success. These are people you know personally.

But you should also have a mentor, someone like Sir Richard, someone to look up to and consult indirectly for advice and inspiration through writing, TED Talks and the like.

I'm always asking start-up execs, "What are you reading?" It tells me how well they listen to other viewpoints and how much they're willing to change instead of just listening to the echo chamber.

Why you must make time to read

In my company, we read books all the time. We're all keen on it, from our CEO on down. We're always asking each other, "What are you reading?"

To grow and evolve your company, you learn from people who have done it before or who bring certain perspectives to the table. One of the things I look for in deciding whether to work with start-up teams is how robust their reading lists are, and not just in their specific topic area or industry niche.

The book I'm recommending now is Taking Down Goliath: Digital Marketing Strategies for Beating Competitors with 100 Times Your Spending Power  by Kevin M. Ryan and Rob "Spider" Graham. They write about a challenge just about every start-up has had to face. I recommend books like this all the time to CEOs who are starting smaller and trying to grow. The easiest way is to learn what others have already done.

My parting advice to you is this: Take time during your week to seek out and read authors who will help drive your business forward and teach you things.

CEOs who learn something new as often as possible are the ones who will weather the ups and downs of launching a company and, ultimately, succeed.

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