Thursday, December 13, 2012

Step 5 - Connect with Trustworthy Mentors

Yuzuru Katagiri was my first mentor in Japan. Now 82, Yuzuru is the Godfather of Alexander Technique here. He invited in the first foreign Alexander Technique teacher, administrated the first training school in Kyoto, and has translated more books on the work than anyone else to date. I was lucky to have him advising me as I stumbled about, in a strange land whose language I could not speak, trying to get a business going. I didn’t know it was a “business” then, Tom taught me that.

Tomoyuki Ohsawa was my second mentor, and my first lesson was in a little cafĂ© in bustling Ebisu, where Tom asked me: “So how many weeks does your business run?” I thought he was rather stupid, so I reminded him there were 52 weeks in the year. “Oh” he said, “So you will stay open through all the holiday seasons?” Well, obviously not I replied. “So how many weeks does your business run?” Hmmm. I started to learn about budgets, financial planning - simple, obvious things that I had not, up till then, bothered about. My business education started with the very basics, but on a real business, not a theory. Alexander would be proud.

In those days, I used to utter the words “I don’t want to make profits” in a misguided belief that this was somehow a “dirty” thing to think about. Brendan Nicholls, my next mentor in Australia, put a stop to all that. Money is inherently without meaning he preached - all that matters is what you project on to it. I slowly came to ask my self: how on earth can BodyChance grow without profits? Another name for profits is working capital - it’s the money BodyChance utilizes to support more people becoming teachers, to support more people having lessons, to support the work becoming known in Japan as the powerful and effective agent for change that it is.

Brendan also introduced me into the world of sales and marketing - first learning how different they are. “Marketing is inviting people to your house, sales is showing them through the door.” I discovered that you can be good at one and terrible at the other! What I found out was true for me: I was terrible at sales because I worried too much about what people thought of me…

So on the other side, to deal with all THAT, I found Byron Katie - am amazing secular teacher whose religion is to undo that beliefs that make us sick. She led me through a journey that unleashed a daily torrent of tears, which resulted in more undoing than 40 years of Alexander work put together. One led to the other of course, but that is how it is with mentors.

Mentors cost money. They should be part of the cost structure of your business - call it the R & D department. They are NOT a luxury item, they are essential. When you get that, truly get that, I promise success will follow. It is the experience of all the successful people I hang around with these days. How is that? Because successful people are hanging around the seminars you don’t go to because you say you can’t afford it!

I am not selling anything to you today, so this is not a sales pitch. It is my heartfelt advice that one of the biggest risks you have to take to be successful is to spend money getting good advice from other people. How you pick those people is critical, but I have found that they often pick me: people appear that I intuitively resonate with, and when I follow up most times it works out well.

These days I have a lot of virtual mentors - buying courses from Perry Marshal, Dan Kennedy, Jeff Walker among them, all at a cost of thousands of dollars (am I a sucker, or am I smart to be doing this?). I joined clubs, took workshops, set up mastermind groups and made sure that my own education took a time and financial priority.

You don’t have to like your mentors to learn from them. Dan Kennedy is the kind of guy who stands on a chair and hoots with joy when he hears Mitt Romney talking about the 47%ers. He is a libertarian on steroids, with something vaguely ugly and angry about him - but Mahler was a rampant pedophile, so does that mean I won’t listen to his music? Dan is a genius, exerting in his way the same kind of seminal influence that Alexander does in his way: most of you are affected by Dan without knowing it. Dan is that guy, so if you know nothing about sales, marketing and business - start reading his works. That doesn’t cost much, and it will get you thinking.

Time is the other resource you must spend. Give up your holiday and go to a seminar - that investment will pay back holidays many times. Or instead of watching that late night video, curl up with a book from Dan. I promise it is more likely to keep you awake than The Exorcist!

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