A while back, I used to go to McDonald’s to meet with some friends every Saturday morning. I noticed an older man who would be there every time reading his Bible and praying.
One Saturday, I decided to stop and talk with him. Over time, we would talk more regularly and got to know each other better. I hate to say it, but at first, I was trying to meet as many people as I could as part of my Edward Jones training at the time. Then, one day he called me out of the blue and told me that he should mentor me. No one had ever offered to do this for me before. It wasn’t hard to accept his offer, as I valued his extensive experience in Sales and strong connection to faith. I could certainly use help in both areas. His name is Rod, and I’ll talk more about him later.
I have not put enough emphasis on mentors in my life. Three different mentors helped me at different times in my life.
I started my career at KPMG as an auditor. For two years, one of my clients was an electronics distribution company. It was one of my more enjoyable clients. After the end of the audit the 2nd year, Mark asked me if I knew anyone who would want to be an Assistant Controller. I ended up interviewing for this position. He was the Controller, and he hired me to help him as the Assistant Controller. Mark was a great mentor and taught me quite a bit about applying accounting and finance in a business setting. He had a perspective of about 20 more years of experience, which was helpful.
- I learned the importance of the Balance Sheet. He said if the Balance Sheet is right, the Income Statement is good.
- He told me how important it was to learn all parts of the business from the warehouse to Sales and Product Management. In the first few days, I remember working in the warehouse in the Shipping and Receiving areas.
- He taught me how to do a good forecast model, update it, and analyze it. I use so much of what he taught me today in my CFO Services business.
After I left Allied Electronics, I went to Range Online Media (iProspect). Ray was a different kind of mentor. He was the COO and focused on all parts of the business, not just accounting and finance. He would provide feedback that sometimes was hard to hear, but was usually right, and I just needed to be open to it.
- Ray taught me how not just to be an accountant, but to present the numbers as a story, so they mean more and provide value.
- I learned how to write emails and communicate with others better, so I was more empathetic, less harsh, and better at communicating. Yes, this is still a work in progress.
- I learned more about truly looking for ways to improve processes (Sharpen the Axe) and focus on the highest priorities (100 Dollar Rocks).
I use much of what he taught me in my business today to be a better communicator, more influential, and understanding.
Now back to Rod. He is more of a full life mentor who has helped me personally, spiritually, and even in my business life. Rod spent most of his life in Sales, so I like to talk to him about Selling. Most of the time though, we talk about parenting, applying Christian principles (discipleship), marriage, and even praying for each other.
- Rod tells stories that will help apply what he tells me to my life. He is very good at getting his point across without making me feel bad.
- He remembers so much about my family and my life and asks about them.
- Rod draws upon our similar strengths of consistency, discipline, and responsibility and gives me examples of how he uses these in his life.
In the early years of starting my CFO Services business, we would meet weekly to talk about all kinds of things. I think he was essential in keeping me grounded and focused while remembering my real purpose as a Christian. We do not meet as often now, but I am very appreciative of his guidance.
I think it is easy to take for granted all the mentors in our life. And for me, there are so many more who have mentored me, from my dad to other bosses and church members; even my relationship with Jesus. There is not enough time to talk about all of them now, but I think taking in the gifts of mentorship and remembering how they affect you is essential. When we remember what our mentors have done for us, we can then mentor others better.