It's clear that getting mentorship, support and guidance through what I call a brain trust is essential to success. But how do you build one? I recently moved from the West Coast to the Midwest and, as I chronicle in my new book The Ultimate Bite-Sized Entrepreneur, it can be more challenging to find similarly-minded entrepreneurs if you aren't in Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley or Silicon Beach.
Toledo serial entrepreneur Will Lucas asked me what is the best way to build support. I only had one answer:
You see how you can be of service to other people. If you are of service to other people, people will recognize that. People will support that. That doesn't mean you're a doormat. That doesn't mean you give up everything to support other people. That means, if you see a way to help other people shine, you do it.
It could be a small favor, introduction or insight. Here's why it matters:
You will need everyone in your circle (if you want your career to evolve)
To put it in brief, my career has evolved from journalism to authorship to public speaking to entrepreneurship to coaching. I suspect your career has and will continue to transform, particularly as, to quote Creative Live's Chase Jarvis, we become more of a slash culture (author/filmmaker, artist/businesswoman, etc.).
It means that the intern you worked with yesterday could be the checkbook holder next year and the random lawyer you met at a recent event may become your savor once you are launching that startup later you don't even know exists yet.
Every connection is long-term. Every relationship is gold.
You ascend with everyone you help
Gratitude is powerful. Will everyone who you serve be grateful for your guidance? Absolutely not. I can guarantee that some people will not honor your support. The people that do, though, will never forget it.
Keep in mind that it isn't about tit-for-tat. Few things are as slimy as someone calling in their chips on some favor they did for you ages ago - and I've severed relationships because of it, so I do not do the same to people I've helped out. However, giving support does create good will that may help build a stronger relationship with someone who can help you out later - maybe without even you asking.
You have a bulletproof purpose
I shared with Lucas off camera that the real secret to being of service is that it gives you a continual purpose. Early in my career, my goal was to have a best-selling book, which I did twice, and then to make a cultural mark beyond journalism, which I did with Cuddlr. Then what? Again, as I talked about recently, dead-end goals have hobbled many an entrepreneur.
But the goal of service? To quote rapper Andre 3000, that is forever ever, and infinite potential is a great tradeoff for helping someone else shine.
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