“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John Maxwell
I don’t think any real estate investor (new or experienced) would disagree with me that having a mentor is essential to growing his/her business. We have had various mentors at different stages of our business. We have had official mentors (people we have directly asked to mentor us) and unofficial mentors (networking contacts who we know and best-selling authors we have never met). In my humble opinion, if you want to be successful in this business of real estate investing, having a mentor (or even coach) to guide you, support you, and encourage you is absolutely critical. No one is successful by themselves. Every great business person — athlete, mother, and, of course, real estate investor — has people around them who support and encourage them.
Since we have been in this business for quite some time now, I have seen new and experienced investors make a lot of mistakes when seeking a mentor. I hope this blog post helps you avoid these mistakes and inspires you to find a mentor who helps propel you to the next level.
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4 Rookie Mistakes That Drive Potential Real Estate Mentors Away
Mistake #1: You approach mentor without being clear on your goals.
Over the years, I have had various people express interest in having us mentor them in casual conversation. When I ask them what their goals are, they will often mention they want to get into an area of real estate investing where we don’t have a ton of experience, such as wholesaling or land development. If you have people in mind that you are interested in approaching for mentoring, you need to make sure they have the experience and expertise that can help you with your goals and aspirations. This might seem completely obvious, but unfortunately it’s not.
Most new and some experienced investors have no clue of their one, three, or five-year goals. They may have some vague answer like they want to be “financially free”; however, they don’t have concrete goals that they read and review every single day. Therefore, the first thing you need to do when seeking a mentor is become CRYSTAL clear on your goals — where do you want to be in one, three, or five years?
If you are going to begin approaching potential mentors, you also need to do your research on this potential mentor. You need to be clear on their experience and knowledge before approaching them about mentoring you. Does the mentor have what you want to have? Is the mentor the kind of person you want to learn from? Not everyone is going to be a good fit for you as a mentor. Your time is just as valuable as their time. Do you research before seeking out a mentor!
Mistake #2: What you really need is a coach, NOT a mentor.
I believe there is great power in having both mentors and coaches throughout our lives. However, there is a distinct difference between these two roles, and people need to be clear on this difference and clear on their expectations before entering either type of relationship.
Let me explain the difference:
A mentor can be someone in your personal network or someone you have met through some type of networking avenue. A mentor is there to guide you, support you, encourage you, and be a resource to you. This is someone who has achieved something that you aspire to achieve as well. There typically is no money exchange with a mentor/mentee relationship. However, I have seen mentors and mentees “barter” with each other, where they offer one another help that the other person needs. I have also seen mentors just simply offer their time and support for free (just to give back and for philanthropic reasons). A great place to find mentors is your local real estate networking groups. Mentoring tends to be more unstructured and more of a “call as you need support” type of approach.
A coach is also there to guide you, support you, and be a resource to you. However, a coach/coachee relationship is much more structured and driven by results. Just like a coach on a basketball team, they push their team, hold them accountable, run practice sessions, and push them to new heights. A coach is there to help their team win, not just to “support” them on the field. This is less of a casual, “call me when you need me” relationship. A coach/coachee relationship in the business world tends to be paid (not free), and there are clear expected results. The coachee has a specific result they are seeking, and the coach helps this coachee get there as quickly as possible.
In this business of real estate investing, I have paid for coaching and have also coached individuals. I have had mentors and have been a mentor. Having a coach and/or mentor is extremely beneficial. Again, the mentee or coachee needs to be clear on what it is they are looking for (their expectations), and they need to be willing to “play full out” with their coach and/or mentor. Bottom line — depending on your goals and expectations, a coaching relationship might be what you really need. Or based on your goals, you may simply need a mentor to support you. Either way, get crystal clear on your goals and expectations, then it will become very clear which path you will need to take to get you where you want to go.
Mistake #3: You propose on the first date.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Believe me, I have a ton of weaknesses. However, one of my strengths is relationship building. I have met so many new and experienced real estate investors who are NOT very good at relationship building. Relationship building in real estate investing is very similar to dating. Most people would not meet someone for the first time and in that same initial conversation ask them to get married. That would be way too forward for most people, and you would probably walk away thinking that person was a bit desperate and weird, right?!
Well, the same approach goes when seeking a mentor. I have met countless investors who I have never met before and in the first conversation might ask, “Can you mentor me?” If you have not built any type of relationship with the person first, then this can seem a bit forward and might turn people off. If the person you are seeking out to mentor you is super busy (which is probably the case if they are successful), then you might need to add some type of value to them in exchange for them helping you. You don’t want to be a burden — you want to add value to this mentor’s life. The best relationship builders in business add value to people’s lives and are an amazing “go-to” resource. Be THAT person, and you will not have any problem or issue finding (and keeping) a mentor.
Mistake #4: You lack self-awareness, vulnerability, and commitment.
There are many qualities that make a successful mentee, but here are the top three in my opinion: self-awareness, vulnerability, and commitment. One of my favorite authors and business leaders, Gary Vaynerchuk, is always talking about the importance of self-awareness, and I can’t agree more. Let’s be honest here — most people in our lives are NOT self-aware and quite honestly are not even interested in becoming more self-aware. I get it! It is hard to look in the mirror and get 100 percent honest with yourself about what is working and not working — what you are good at and not good at.
However, it is important to be honest with yourself, and this is a skill that can be developed. Another key quality is vulnerability. What do I mean by that? I mean being 100 percent open and real with your mentor. Being vulnerable means being open and receptive to receiving feedback and not taking any feedback you get personally. The last one, commitment, might seem obvious, but this is the most important quality. Many people decide real estate investing is too hard, takes too long, and is not worth the effort. I can tell you that it takes 100 percent commitment and not looking back to be successful in this business.
In summary, I hope this blog post will help you as a guide as you seek out a mentor (or even coach). No one can do it alone. Take any successful person in our society — from all walks of life, all types of backgrounds. They did not get there by themselves. No way. They had people supporting them in their journey. As you look to 2017, determine for yourself what you need to get you where you want to go!
Would love to get some discussion going. What have you seen to be the positive traits of both mentors and coaches you have worked with in the past? What are qualities to avoid?
Let’s chat below!