Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

How to Find the Perfect Mentor

When you’ve joined the working class and your life is about family, friends, and work, it may be difficult to find the time for career-related training. However, when you make the time to improve your skills, you want to ensure that each moment is productive. One way to learn is with the right mentor. Finding the perfect mentor is not easy, but there are some tips you can follow to find the right one for you.

Determine your potential mentor’s teaching style

Start by searching online to learn about your choice of mentor. If your mentor has some level of celebrity status, then follow them on social media platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Watch their videos. Subscribe to their newsletters. Sign up for free seminars or workshops that they are hosting. Your purpose is to discover their teaching style, as well as what topics they teach their followers. You want to choose a mentor whose style resonates well with you.

If your mentor is not a celebrity with hundreds or thousands of followers, the same idea applies. If your mentor is a friend, coworker, or mentor at your company, decide if you can learn from their teaching style. For example, if you attended one of their workshops, did you feel like you could apply what you learned?

Regardless if your choice of mentor is a well known celebrity such as Tony Robbins, or someone you know personally, ask yourself if your mentor challenges you. If you want to be a successful business owner, and your potential mentor has just started her own business, there may not be enough of a gap to challenge you. However, if your potential mentor has owned a successful business for ten years, you have a longer distance to climb to catch up to that same point.

Take action after you choose a mentor

When you’ve found someone you like as a mentor, ask yourself if your mentor can motivate you to get results.

Your mentor should inspire you to take action when you watch their YouTube video or teach you about a new concept. Their message should excite you so much that you want to learn and change. They should also be approachable. For example, you should feel comfortable having dinner with them without feeling nervous.

Their mentorship should have you thirsting for more knowledge about the same topic, or have you madly scribbling notes. You should be excited about applying what they are trying to teach you as soon as possible.

To get the best results from working with a mentor, have some goals in mind. The worst scenario is to be too general about what you want your mentor to teach you. If your mentor posts a lot of learning material online, focus on one topic at a time, not getting your hands on everything they have ever published. If your mentor wants to help you improve your skills, don’t set a general goal, such as “I want to get better at my career.” Set specific goals and share these with your mentor.

Choose a mentor who chooses you

Getting feedback from your mentor is important. I’ve taken online courses from experts and gurus who I respect as mentors. I understand their lessons, but I’m not sure if I’m interpreting their learning points correctly. At a workshop or live webinar, choose a mentor who answers questions and provides feedback to participants. This style helps you to gauge if you are understanding what they teach.

If you can schedule an hour with your mentor, have your hour planned out beforehand. Prepare questions to ask your mentor, or list what you’d like to improve on prior to your meeting. Set clear expectations and outcomes to show your mentor that you respect their time.

For example, if you want to improve on your presentation skills, ask your mentor if they can give you some pointers and feedback on the way you speak at a presentation. Be prepared to show them part of your presentation so they can provide you with specific tips and feedback.

After you receive feedback, take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned. Was the feedback valuable? Can you use the feedback to make improvements? Did your mentor seem genuinely invested in you? A mentor who is genuinely invested will encourage you, tell you what progress you’ve made, be honest in their critique, and help you set goals for next steps.

Keep moving forward

Finding the right mentor is like an investment. You want someone who is approachable, excited about what you want to learn, and honest when mentoring you. It will feel uncomfortable and even painful to be told that you aren’t doing something well. However, if you only spend time doing things that you already do well, you will not grow as a person.

Embrace change and getting uncomfortable. You may find yourself looking for a new mentor in the future for various reasons. In my case, I had a business mentor for two years. As I developed my business knowledge, I started to change my goals for my business strategy. I realized I needed a new mentor who could help me improve my new approach to doing business. I found a new mentor, but I keep in touch with my previous one.

In life, the best direction to keep moving in is forward. After you reach one milestone in the road, aim for a new one. Always keep challenging yourself and you will grow as a person.

 

 

Advertisements

Why You Need a Mentor

Most learning experiences – including hour-long workshops to week-long conferences – teach you relevant lessons, but few give you the knowledge or skills you need to make a serious transformation in your life. Having a mentor, whether a teacher or peer, is advantageous when improving your business or yourself.

In the past, I’ve signed up for webinars to learn new skills. When the webinar was over, it was up to me to apply the lessons. Over time, however, I noticed my business wasn’t getting the profits that I wanted. Recently, I decided to try something new, and registered for a course that had live webinars, as well as mentoring from the instructors and my peers. As a result of the mentoring, I noticed an immediate improvement in my learning experience for several reasons.

Learning is personalized

It’s easy to watch and observe while you’re learning something new. It’s easy to get excited about a new concept. But you don’t know if you’ve achieved true mastery of what you’ve learned until you have to apply it. Having a mentor personalizes your learning.

The interaction during a live webinar is motivating when you hear about how your peers are applying the lessons and getting positive results. You’ll feel like you’re on the right track and not alone in your journey toward self improvement.

You have the opportunity to ask questions about your situation. Your mentor will give you feedback about your particular concerns and comment on your progress. With this type of learning, I felt like my effort in the course mattered.

After each webinar, I had a chance to meet with peers on platforms such as Skype so we could practice what we had learned and discuss our opinions about learning points. I found these interactions with my peers made me accountable for my learning. I wanted to be the next person with a success story to share with the group.

Opportunities to practice and improve skills

With most courses and webinars, I would take notes, then shelve my notebook away somewhere until I needed to reference a point from one of the lessons. However, I’ve found that the best and safest way to implement what you’ve learned from a course is with practice. You can make mistakes without worrying about making mistakes.

A role play to demonstrate the point of a lesson can be an effective way to get a message across to an audience. However, it is difficult to tell if you truly mastered the objective of the lesson by watching the sample role play. For example, if you are learning how to deal with a difficult client, you can watch a role play of a conversation. When faced with a difficult client at your workplace, however, you might not be able to follow the script from the demonstration.

When you are involved in role playing during a practice session, you have the opportunity to try out a situation in a safe environment. If you make a mistake, you can try again. There was a time when I role played with two of my peers while others listened in the audience. The situation was a seller attempting to close a deal with a buyer and his wife. We paused and resumed the role play several times to figure out the best solution for the situation. Audience members also stepped in as we switched roles and tested out alternate endings. In reality, we wouldn’t have been able to rewrite the scenario so many times.

All of the practice sessions with peers are a valuable way for us all to grow our skills. Most importantly, only by practicing do we realize what we don’t know.

Opportunities for feedback

Having a chance to practice what you learn and receiving feedback from mentors is the best way to evaluate your learning. You have a safe environment to try out different scenarios and improve yourself. A mentor will tell you what you are and aren’t not doing well and give you suggestions that work for you.

For example, if you are learning how to be a more effective public speaker, your mentor could watch your presentation and provide you with feedback afterward. Your mentor might notice that you need to interact with your audience more. Instead of reading through a checklist of all the methods for improving speaker/audience interaction, your mentor could suggest tips that work specifically with your personality style.

Ongoing feedback is also critical to your self improvement. In the live webinar course, I had several opportunities to role play with peers over several weeks. After each session, I received feedback on what I did well and what I needed to improve. At subsequent sessions, I reviewed my notes on the feedback and applied it to my next role play. Over time, I noticed a gradual improvement in my skills.

Chances to review and reflect

Having a group to support and mentor each other is very important in your learning and growth. When your peers talk about how the lessons have changed them, you realize that you are not the only one going through a period of transformation.

It is very motivating when a peer shares how he applied the lesson and achieved a great result with a client. You feel motivated to do the same. When a peer talks about how she feels she’s changed because of the course, you can relate.

Mentorship is an effective way to learn. Your mentor is your guide as you develop new skills. Ongoing feedback from your teacher and the peers in your course allows you to learn at your own pace. The encouragement from your teacher-mentor and peer-mentors as you practice what you learn results in improved skills and knowledge.

If you are ready to learn from a mentor, you can follow these tips on finding the best mentor for you.

Why We Need Halloween

Is Halloween good or evil? On the surface, it seems that Halloween is about scary movies, costumes, parties, candies, and a reason to scare our friends and family. Not much is said about the origin of Halloween or how it came to be a part of North American culture. If you have a look at Halloween from an entrepreneur perspective, however, you can see that it brings out qualities in people that should remain after all the Halloween candy is gone.

Face your fears; leave that zone of comfort

October 31st is about more than horror. It’s about facing our fears: freaky ghosts, bizarre clowns, and creepy crawly spiders. People challenge themselves to brave haunted houses to get a fright from costumed actors jumping out suddenly at them. Some people enter cemeteries at night, or take cameras to supposedly cursed buildings to find proof of an afterlife. It seems we have it in us that night to brave our darkest terrors just for a little fun.

cropped_Main_jackolantern_jack_o_lantern_turnip_wikicommons
Jack-o-lanterns were originally made from turnips not pumpkins. (Credit: Irish Central)

As an entrepreneur, I’m always having to push myself and other entrepreneurs out of their comfort zone. When you face your fears, learning happens. For example, you build your confidence. You also start to rewire your brain into focusing on the best thing that could happen, and whether you can survive the experience. Halloween is just another reason to step out of your comfort zone.

When I was a girl, I was afraid of spiders, so I went to the library one day and borrowed ten books on spiders to learn what I could about them and to find out if a fear of them was necessary. When I was an adult, my friends asked me to go to a haunted house. They wanted a chance to scream and be frightened; I challenged myself to stay calm in a tense situation. My friend and I entered a room that was completely pitch black.  At the room entrance, I visualized walking through the dark at a normal pace, before actually walking into the darkness, while focusing on a mental image of me walking calmly from room entrance to exit.

foggy-mist-forest-trees-42263
Walking into a haunted house is one way to face your fears.

Mindset and reward

Halloween is a psychological experience. Not only can you face your fears, but you can also work on self discipline. Candy seems to be everywhere. And if you’re a Halloween enthusiast, the chances to part ways with your money are also plentiful.

Halloween brings much business to retailers. Some recent Halloween spending stats: two-thirds of Americans hand out candy, spending an average of $25 each. Costumes make up a large part of the Halloween expense, with men spending about $96 each, and $77 each for women. The costumes are for men, women, children, and even pets. On average, buyers spend $86 each on Halloween candy, decor, and/or costumes. That works out to 6.9 to 9 billion a year spent on Halloween since 2012.

pexels-photo-607817
People are willing to spend money on costumes and decorations.

At the end of October, candy is promoted in stores, found in bowls on office reception desks, and is abundant at parties. You can also get them on sale post Halloween. As an entrepreneur, I would like to say that I can control myself around sweets, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes I have a cheat day and eat more than a day’s share of leftover Halloween candy. On the flip side, treats can also be used as a reward for going to the gym or climbing sets of stairs. It’s a time to reflect on health and fitness goals. Self discipline is important, so those candies can be used as small rewards for hitting daily or weekly goals. It’s all about mindset.

Halloween is also a time to change identity and blend in with the crowd. For one night, either at a Halloween party or on Halloween night itself, we can be someone else and it’s considered normal.

Empowerment and sense of community

We can dress as superheroes and pretend we have superpowers at Halloween. At a costume party I went to with a superhero theme, people talked about what powers they had. Wonder Woman, Batman, and The Flash wannabes had chosen people with qualities that they admired or wanted for themselves. I wondered if they did have the power of super strength or flight, then would they use these powers after Halloween to help people? That is a scenario I would like to explore.

What I really like about Halloween is the sense of community that it brings. At two events, costumed characters came together to enjoy the occasion. At the Parade of Lost Souls, several people got together at the community centre to follow a parade route. On Halloween night, thick crowds of adults and children walked through the streets of Burkeville to go trick-or-treating at well-decorated houses. It’s the only time of year when it’s not at all creepy to gawk at the unusual collection of scarecrows and gravestones in a front yard, and then walk up to the lighted front door to say hello to a neighbour.

20171031_190817
Children walk up to a house for candy.

Costumes, candy, and haunted houses are only a small part of Halloween. It’s a time to reach out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself, as well as become a part of a community of people who share the same interest. That to me is the heart of what Halloween is: the people who celebrate it.

 

 

 

 

Why We Should Teach Kids to be Entrepreneurs

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of marrying a wealthy business owner, and when I got older, I dreamed of becoming a successful business owner, but teachers and family had other plans for me. They wanted me to attend university and have a career as a doctor or dentist. Helping people and changing lives appealed to me, but being around sick people or staring at teeth all day did not. When I finally decided to step out of the box and become an entrepreneur, I discovered all my years of schooling weren’t enough to fulfill my dream.

Employee vs entrepreneur

School taught me how to be an excellent employee. I went from obeying the teacher to obeying the boss, from taking six classes a day to working set hours. I performed according to expectations and job requirements, and challenged myself to leave my comfort zone when it meant a pay raise or getting fired. Having a job and a career were great – I really enjoyed my writing career after I graduated from university. However, it didn’t bring me any closer to fulfilling my dream.

Now that I have my own business, I’ve realized that there are entrepreneurship skills that school doesn’t teach you that are relevant no matter what career you choose for yourself. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson and Henry Ford, were not known for having a shining academic performance.

Students who are well behaved, complete their homework, and perform well on tests are praised by their teachers. Students like Branson who struggled with dyslexia, or who found schoolwork boring, or generally didn’t fit the good student stereotype, were given assistance so they could fit closer to this stereotype. A friend who failed in school because it didn’t challenge him now owns two flourishing side businesses. Perhaps, in addition to the current school curriculum, children should be taught entrepreneurship from an early age. Entrepreneur wannabees would benefit from these skills, but students seeking careers would benefit also.

Leadership and communication

Two of the most important entrepreneurship skills are leadership and communication. Children who lead by example and communicate effectively are known for their charisma and optimism. Peers are drawn to their ability to make decisions and have a clear vision of their objectives, such as making teams and establishing rules for a game. They are able to convince others why building a sandcastle would be a fun activity.

These leaders are the type of friend who will listen to your problems and show understanding, or offer advice if needed. I remember a popular girl in my grade three class. Everyone liked her. She was always smiling, and when you spoke to her, it seemed like you were the only person in the world.

I have never heard anyone say that they admire their bossy supervisor. But I’ve heard how much people admire leaders who get their hands dirty and treat their coworkers as part of a team of equals. That’s similar to a child who makes the extra effort to make the new student feel welcome, and encourages classmates to do the same.

An example of how leadership can inspire others is acclaimed speaker and author Adora Svitak. She advocated kids to take action about academic and environmental concerns and has also spoken for causes such as feminism and literacy. Her Ted Talk “What Adults Can Learn From Kids” has received more than 4 million views and established her as a prodigy by the age of 12.

The ability to sell yourself

Not everyone likes to sell, or become a salesperson, but everyone should learn how to sell to be successful in life. Before the age of 18, children have done various jobs, from opening a lemonade stand to paper routes, to mowing lawns, to baby sitting. It’s a way to experience bookkeeping as you track sales, as well as selling your wares and skills to customers. If you know what you’re good at, there is a way to sell it.

Moziah Bridges was 11 when he started to sell his bow tie creations on Etsy. He had learned to sew from his grandmother. He’s made more than $600,000 in sales and continues to grow his business with a seven figure deal with the NBA to make bow ties for 30 professional basketball teams.

Evan of EvanTube reviews toys and covers topics that interest other kids his age through the use of video recordings. He makes more than one million per year with his brand, and he’s not even ten years old.

Having the ability to sell can start at a young age, and be just as valuable when you’re an adult. If you can convince someone that you have what it takes to do a job, you will ace a job interview. If you can show someone that you have the personality and qualities that he or she is looking for, you will do well on a first date.

Finding opportunities

Teaching children about entrepreneurship includes teaching them about how to weather financial difficulties. If they would like money to buy a new outfit or video game, they will be unafraid to speak with neighbours, friends, and family members to make some cash by shovelling snow, painting a fence, or selling a toy collection they no longer want. We can also teach children to see opportunities instead of problems. For example, if they receive an allowance, they may be seeing only the problem if they have only $100 in allowance money and the toy they want to buy is $130.

The creator of Nay Games, 14-year old Robert Nay, learned how to code through research at the public library. He programmed “Bubble Ball,” which received more than one million downloads. Nay Games now has games to help students with spelling and physics-based puzzles. Nay saw an opportunity, and followed through with it.

Learning problem solving

Children who learn about entrepreneurship also learn problem solving. They learn more than how to operate technology such as their iphone or tablet to play games or message friends when their homework is done. They learn to find solutions to their problems by tacking the situation head on.

In the case of Cory Nieves, a six year old boy became the owner of his own business after he decided he was tired of taking the bus to school. He wanted to buy a car instead because it was too cold. He sold hot cocoa, and later branched out to selling lemonade and cookies to achieve his dream and save up for college. In 2014, when he was ten years old, he was making sales of a thousand cookies a weekend.

Busy vs productive

Time management is a valuable skill when you own your own business. You learn to be productive, instead of just busy. Children who are adept at time management accomplish more, and efficiently. Instead of taking two hours to finish a homework assignment with plenty of breaks, they can finish it in one hour and have time for other tasks.

Business mentor and coach Cameron Herold has spoken in favour of having parents and teachers encourage kids to be entrepreneurs. At a Ted Talk in Edmonton, Alberta, he speaks about how he was bored and failing in school because teachers did not identify entrepreneurial traits as worth encouraging. For example, at the age of seven, he  was able to sell coat hangers at a higher price than originally expected, but negotiation was not a skill that he was taught.

 

Stories of successful kid entrepreneurs all echo a similar theme to Herold’s story: Child entrepreneurs who didn’t pay attention in school but became thriving business owners. Young teenagers who were told to set aside their business ventures until they were older, but instead continued to pursue their dream until they reached their goal or surpassed it.

My earliest brush with entrepreneurship was in grade five. One day, we were asked to bring some belongings we no longer wanted and place them on our desks at school. We walked around the class and looked for things we wanted to barter for, using our own items. A classmate had a pair of three inch tall glass boots I liked. I asked her what she wanted from my desk in exchange. Sadly, what she wanted was only worth one boot – she didn’t like the other items I had for exchange. To this day, I only have one glass boot in my display case, a reminder of my early attempts at commerce.

If you have a say in the education of a child, consider how entrepreneurship can provide them with opportunities to succeed as adults, whether they choose to have a job or own a business. One lesson that successful kid entrepreneurs have taught us is that we should never limit what we want to accomplish.