I receive several emails each month which contain some version of, “Will you be my mentor?” …and since I obviously can’t say “yes” to every request, I refer them to this 9-minute video which gives them the not-so-secret-secret to have the best mentors in their court…and at a minimum to convince them that the secret is not an email from nowhere.
Many of the emails are extremely heartfelt…from up-and-coming copywriters and marketing entrepreneurs…who flatter me with praise (not a bad approach because as I’ve said before, quoting Mark Ford, “flattery doesn’t work on everyone but it works on me”) …some with tales of woe…others with a string of financial hardships…but all eager to learn from me (and the people I interact with regularly).
Check out the P.S. for a shortcut to do this; but you will still need to do the work I suggest in this post to do it most effectively…please read on.
Honestly, I want to say yes to most of them…but being a mentor (or a mentee), is serious business…and hard work.
It doesn’t happen by magic on either side of the mentor-mentee relationship.
I know I was very high maintenance to the phenomenal mentors I have had during my career.
And now being on the other side of the desk, I have a much more informed understanding about what my mentors did for me and why they decided to “take me on,” as I pay it forward to my current (and future) mentees.
One thing I know for sure:
I get more satisfaction than almost anything else in my life when someone I highly respect counts me as one of their mentors.
It feels like the pinnacle of success.
Despite that, I still can’t say yes to everyone who asks me to fulfill that role for them.
Too many potential mentees, so little time. 🙂
I guess since I’ve expressed no regrets about “leaving money on the table” in some recent posts, I need to be consistent and say that I’m OK leaving mentees on the table, but it’s so much harder for me to leave a student who is in distress in the dust than leaving a pile of cash.
The best I can do when they request mentorship from me is to refer to them to the video…and hope they begin their search for a mentor (or mentors) “the right way” by having mentors choose them.
What I say at the conclusion of that video still holds: No emails please asking me to be your mentor.
Instead, follow the instructions in the video.
When your mentors choose you, for all the right reasons (as outlined in the video), they will gain profound interest in all you do throughout your career, and they will tend to be mentors forever …rather than a teacher or a coach for a concept or a project for a few months or a year if you’re lucky.
Today I have a new angle on “mentors choosing you” courtesy of a member of my online family, Jym North, who wrote to me after watching the video:
“…as I [watched and] listened, I became convinced this same process of steps [to have your mentors choose you] is currently the preferred path to having clients choose you.”
As he broke down the steps from my video to having a mentor that chooses you, it is obvious (but it wasn’t to me when I recorded the video) that my thesis works for having clients choose you too.
How many times have you sent some version of an email, made a dialing for dollars phone call or wrote a letter that could have simply said, “Will you be my client”?
Wouldn’t the world be a happier place if you didn’t have to ask that question…and your clients chose you instead?
I know you probably think that’s not a world you will ever live in…but give me some leeway to make the case by first exploring the steps (i.e., a quick review of the video) …and then applying them to both mentors and clients:
1. List your assets (e.g., your skills, resources, mindsets, knowledge, wisdom)
2. Create your wish list of potential mentors (or clients)
3. List their assets and compare with your assets…what do you have that they might need…and then “contribute to connect”
4. Figure out ways to fill in a void in their world of experience…by sharing what you have that they need…with no expectation of a return…just a hope that it will get recognized…and possibly move to a next step…but with no guarantee
Mentors choosing you
Chances are, those who you have targeted as potential mentors (step 2 above— “your wish list”) are probably busy people.
And even if they are not, being stalked by you or ambushed with an out-of-the-blue correspondence to be your mentor is clearly not the most effective way to get their attention.
But knowing what you have to offer them…and simply offering it up without an expectation of a return (financial or something in kind) …is the best way to help your prospective mentors.
This takes patience and research to find out what those things are that you can offer to them.
One of the examples in the video…how I got Dick Benson and Gene Schwartz to become my mentors in direct mail and copywriting respectively…was attained by sharing with them everything I knew about list selection—management and segmentation—an expertise of mine but not of theirs—and giving everything I had to them under the premise of 100-0.
Benson and Schwartz were at the top of my wish list and it took some time to get their recognition…but once I did, it was off to the races (with these two exceptional mentors cheering me on every step of the way).
And what goes around comes around…the story of how I chose to be a mentor to three copywriters inside this online family (i.e. they are on this list) with a simple mention in one of my Sunday blog posts about a copywriting and marketing need I had is also in the 9-minute video.
And that was whether they wanted me as their mentor or not. 🙂
After that experience I discovered how this works coming and going.
It’s a neat story and I encourage you to watch the video.
Clients choosing you
Here’s an email I received recently from a copywriter I never met or heard of, coming into my In Box from a galaxy far, far, away…which illustrates how not to choose (or solicit) clients…and certainly has no relationship to having the client (me) choosing him:
I was just wondering if you guys hire email copywriters?
P.S: here’s some of my previous work (in the pdf attached), hope you enjoy reading them
Despite the fact that this is what I call an “ask from nowhere,” this young and inexperienced copywriter (actually the samples were not that bad), could have had a much different approach to really get my attention (e.g., studying my emails, coming up with something that appealed to me personally, or at least something with imagination that showed preparation before hitting send on the email above).
Instead, all he did was give me fodder to show you what not to do…although I couldn’t let it go without a response. I wrote back to him:
A small piece of advice…although if sending emails to folks like me like the one you sent works for you to get writing assignments, congratulations.
And I encouraged him to read those two posts…not only see what I am referring to but to get insight into how I write emails which could be translated into research as to how to get my attention in the future.
I hid it in plain sight for him…not sure if he had the patience to open them or read them. Or to dive deeper into my potential needs to see how an email copywriter might be able to help me.
What does he have that I need that I can only get from him?
That is the question he should have been asking before crafting the email he sent.
My goal was not to shame him and my wish is that he is reading this right now…and that he is studying those two email blog posts about contributing to connect and the inefficiency of asking from nowhere…along with reading and studying my emails going back a few years.
Maybe that will lead him to becoming the best email copywriter who I ever hire in the future…after he does the hard work on his end…which will allow him to choose me once I choose him first.
P.S. The trajectory of your career, measured by how many mentors and clients choose you on a regular basis, is exponentially Xcelerated based on who you hang out with on a regular basis.
I know you’ve heard this from me before if you are a reader of my posts:
If you are the smartest person in the room you are in the wrong room
And I assure you that if you live your career under this premise, you will have more and better choices among mentors and clients, choosing you for the right reasons.
Of course you also need to work in the “4 steps” above from this post into your behavior while you are not being the smartest person in the room.
All you need to do in the room is lead with your superpower that others don’t have…and might need.
You will be chosen eventually. 🙂
And I’ve got the ideal room for you to make this kind of magic happen…it’s actually a room on Zoom two to four times a month…with 250 of the choosiest marketers, copywriters and entrepreneurs on the planet…ready to choose you.
Titans Xcelerator, is the most impactful virtual mastermind you will find anywhere, highlighted by live calls multiple times a month (with guest speakers, hot seats and breakout rooms with everyone choosing to share and give), with a private Facebook group with even more giving and everyone helping everyone else… and digital (online) and physical (USB mailed every month) portals to tap into all of the content anytime during the year.
Seats are open right now…but not for much longer…so grab yours right now at the lowest price and the most exciting bonuses.
I can’t wait to see you on the inside of the choosiest and givingest room there is. 🙂