Using Virtual Mentors: What Has Influenced Me?

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Image Courtesy of Stewart Butterfield. https://flic.kr/p/9L4DC

 

If you are looking to start your own business, one of the first recommendations is to find a mentor. If you are like I was and are just getting started, this can be daunting for a couple of reasons:

  • Business people are very busy. There are only so many hours in the day, and running a business is tough. Schedule’s get booked up and as you know, things come up at the last moment that need to be dealt with.
  • What do you have to offer? I’m not taking the position that you don’t, what I mean here is that busy people are tending to their own critical tasks. Taking time out to engage outside of their core business is lower priority than the multitude of decisions that need to be made on a daily basis.

In addition to the above, personal one-on-one mentorships have been on the decline. It was common in generations past to assign a mentor to a new or junior employee, but this practice is all but gone. The fact remains, however, that mentorships are still important. We need people that know more than us to guide us and pass along their knowledge so that we don’t have to go through as arduous of a process to learn that knowledge. (Sidenote: If you still think 1-on-1 is important, so do I. Keep reading!).

Times change, the economy changes and we must adapt and change as well. So, what are the options?

Well, if we can’t meet personally, I would first utilize virtual mentors.  These are sources such as books, magazines, podcasts, webinars, online courses, mastermind groups, websites and blogs.

Though impersonal, but much knowledge can be gained. More importantly, the more you you expose yourself to the information you need and engage in the subject matter, your mind will become conditioned to think in a more business-like fashion.  Think of a book for example. When someone writes a book, they are passing along a great deal of knowledge, gained through experience of many years, refined, distilled then given to you. For a few dollars, you can have access to many years of experience.

Very few highly successful people don’t read.

To put it simply: If you want to be highly successful, then read. The same thing applies to the other sources of media I’ve mentioned.

Below I am going to list a variety of books, blogs, podcasts etc., that have helped me get my own personal mental house in order, as well as launch Richer Self.

These have been highly influential or valuable to me. Its not complete, but perhaps it will help you fill in some holes in your own knowledge. (Another sidenote: I am not an affiliate. I don’t make a dime off any of these.). Also note, I’m not going to do reviews, but may make a few comments.

Books

These aren’t listed in any particular order, but they have all provided value:

  • Choose Yourself by James Altucher. I did put this one first, because it did make the most impact. Do the Daily Exercise if nothing else.
  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  • Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
  • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
  • Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim
  • The Idea Hunter by Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer
  • The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman
  • Stand Out by Dorie Clark
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship, by Peter Drucker
  • The Lean Startup by Eric Reis
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

There are many, many more, but these are the most recent and should be on anyone’s must read list.

Podcasts

This is something I recently took up and I don’t know why it took so long. This has been a major personal “Aha” moment for me. Hearing people speak, pass along a message, interview other entrepreneurs, answer questions and cover specific topics has been invaluable. I eat this stuff up, because I can listen in my car. Now, in addition to reading, I can spend my drive time devouring information.

Some that I particularly like are:

  • Entrepreneur On Fire. This has been an awesome podcast, and John Lee Dumas is a very engaging and talented interviewer. On his work days, he interviews several entrepreneurs for individual podcasts. In a relatively short time he is pushing 1,000 episodes! I kid you not, this is a must listen.
  • The James Altucher Show. James is very down to earth, extremely transparent and compelling. He tells it like it is and he has been highly influential to me.
  • Ask Altucher. Another podcast my James, but these are short episodes where he answers listener questions.
  • Internet Business Mastery. This is great entry-level information and beyond focused on lifestyle businesses. They have tons of great information to help people get started.
  • Mixergy. This is by Andrew Warner. He is a very well respected and seasoned podcaster on entrepreneurship. He is an excellent interviewer, in that he asks very deep questions.
  • Smart Passive Income. By Pat Flynn. He is very engaging as well and a natural interviewer. His personal story is compelling as well.
  • Startup School. By Seth Godin, this is 15 episodes. Its not an active podcast, but it is a series he put out of lessons from a seminar he taught. He covers the entire gamut of starting a business. It is invaluable and should be listened to on an occasional basis, not just once.

I currently use the iOS app Casts. The built in Apple podcast app frankly is crappy (sorry Apple, you do a lot of things well, but not this. If you want me to plug your products, however, I would like 15″ MacBook Pro with discreet graphics. *steps off soapbox*). There are other good apps out there if you do some Google searching for them. Stitcher is passable, especially if you use it for music as well. I find a dedicated app is cleaner and easier.

Pro-Tip: If your app supports it, listen as 1.5x speed. I find I adjusted in a few minutes to the pace and the mind is more than capable of learning just as efficiently. Why? Because I can absorb more info! I also set up playlists of pre-downloaded episodes so that it just keeps running episode after episode.

Bloggers

I list here people where I follow their blogs or I have found have been movers-and-shakers in the field. They aren’t just bloggers, but entrepreneurs who also blog. The reason why I list them is that there is an enormous amount of information out there, and it is difficult to know who is legit as well as who is influential in the industry.

Keep in mind, that if you are listening to podcasts, in a very short period of time, you are going to hear dozens of great interviews with successful people. Go check them out as well, their products, websites and blogs. This will also help inform you on who has a big voice in the industry.

  • James Altucher. Seeing a pattern here?!
  • Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn
  • Entrepreneur On Fire by John Lee Dumas
  • Internet Business Mastery
  • Noah Kagan at Okdork.com
  • Seth Godin’s Blog. Seth is a major voice in the business community. Follow what he does and read his books.
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
  • The Smart Passive Income Blog
  • Chris Ducker
  • Michael Hyatt
  • Amy Porterfield
  • Ramit Sethi at iwillteachyoutoberich.com. Don’t judge the name, Ramit is a major force.
  • David Siteman Garland

Webinars

I won’t list individual Webinars here, because they often are scheduled at specific times and you have to sign up. Look at websites of bloggers you follow or even books you have read. There are often links to webinars on a specific topic. They are great, short mini-lessons on a targeted topic. Yes, they will lead you into buying a product, often a course or piece of software, but that  is how the business model works. If you trust the source, don’t fret being pitched at the end. You may find there is a course you may benefit from. Its also good to see how they go about it.

What is a webinar you ask? It is video, either live or recorded. Sometimes you can watch right through the site, sometimes it is a pop-up webinar viewer. You don’t need special software to watch. Either way, it may be a presentation by the person themselves, a Powerpoint or slide based program with a voiceover, or a combination of both.

Many are free, especially if it is a teaser to a more detailed course.

Mastermind Groups

What these are, are small groups of individuals that get together either in person or through Skype chats or something similar. They are structured and allow perhaps up to 6 people to share their experiences, set their goals, discuss their progress, get insights from others and generally be a support group for folks going through similar experiences. Diversity of backgrounds and businesses are helpful too.

This is more of a new take on the traditional mentorship concept. It is live and personal, if not 1-on-1. Often these masterminds are founded through paid courses or coaching programs, so it may be difficult to find one up front. Eventually as you build your network, more of these opportunities will arise.

Another concept to this is Meetup.com. This is a website where local meetup groups are formed around a particular interest. It runs from kayaking, to knitting to drinking partners to entrepreneurship groups. You can join a meetup or form one yourself. Its a good way to meet people and build your own personal network.

As a corollary to these two options are to find Facebook pages of people you want to follow. Engage in that community through the comments. Often people there share similar interests and can help you. Some even have closed Facebook groups as a sort of mastermind.

My Approach and Final Comments

I found this information over years and much searching. I tended to have gravitated to these resources. They have been great to help me learn and over time, I hear additional names of people I want to look up and research. These have become my own virtual mentors.

Almost all of these folks have free downloadable content or great posts packed with valuable content. You can get much of what you need to initially get started just utilizing free information.

Another benefit is that you will begin to hear them talk about the tools, programs and other resources they use in their business. This becomes invaluable when you need to set up email autoresponders, develop landing pages, develop campaigns, get your website up and running and so forth.

The biggest benefit is that you are training your brain how to think like an entrepreneur and business person. Even if you aren’t set on starting a lifestyle, blog based business, their information is rich in value. After a few months, you will be experienced enough to be able to find and filter the information that provides value to you.

Our thoughts determine our actions and our actions determine our results (thanks to T. Harv Eker for that concept). It is true and it is incredibly helpful to help train your brain on how successful people think. As you change, your actions will change and your results.

These are all easy ways to help train the brain and build your knowledge. This information can help you as well.

What I found was that there were things I knew I knew, things I knew I didn’t know, but there were also things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know. By the way, that was a fun sentence to write. Its true, however, that this is a process of learning and growing. You can only see so far ahead, but you will see further down the road as you move forward.

I want to state again, that there is a ton of free information out there. You don’t need to be quick to pay for knowledge, but also know that at some point you may need to. Don’t be afraid to do so if it can take you to the next level quickly with a shorter learning curve. Invest in yourself and your education.

I hope this is helpful to you. At least check out the resources above and let me know in the comments if you have others you personally have found helpful. I would like to expand my knowledge continually as well.

Finally, as you get traction in whatever pursuit you set your mind to, your network will grow. Ultimately you may find yourself in a personal 1-on-1 mentorship, or be one to someone else. Grow your own knowledge, provide value to others, expand your network and your success will skyrocket.

Challenge: Using this information or your own research, draft a plan to follow one or more virtual mentors in the following areas: books, podcasts and blogs.

 

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