Bob was my first mentor in business and life.
Interestingly enough, Bob did not have a college degree so he did not arrive with the knowledge of how to create a solid marketing strategy. His accounting philosophy was simple and lacking spreadsheets or formulas to follow for proper accounting principles. When it came to a sales process, he may not have known that sales actually had a process. Bob did not have the answer to the business knowledge that I felt I was lacking in order to succeed.
I was 21 years old when I started in business and quickly found myself way over my head as the business grew rapidly. To start my business, I was not required to have a plan, and at the age of 21 could not see past the next day much less planning for yearly goals or holding a vision of the future. Flying by the seat of my pants was all I could do, and I kept having to put out the fires I experienced day in and day out. I did not realize that there was any other way to be in my retail/food service business.
In the late 70’s business advisers were not presenting themselves. Business Coaching was a concept to that was to enter the arena 30 years later. The book E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber, which beautifully portrays the plight of a small business owner and why they fail, could have been written 20 years earlier using me as the case study. So, Bob was no help to me when it came to teaching me the nuts and bolts of building a successful business. What he did teach me was far more valuable than anything a Business Coach or Consultant or Business School could have imparted on me at the time and I am still digesting his words. My learnings from Bob unfolded in me through the 17 years of that first business, 10 years in corporate management positions and 5 years as a “Business Coach”. And now what he taught me has unfolded in a beautiful way as I coach people wanting to connect the dots of their life and profession.
Bob’s Top Teachings
- Listen – Take the time to be with someone in need. Lend them your ear without trying to fix anything. Look beyond profit or business relationships and just be there. As busy as Bob was he saw in my eyes the fear and confusion that I was experiencing. His calm demeanor helped ease my stress and I could vent and question and doubt and then come back to my power, moving into the day or week ahead.
- Believe – Bob believed in me like no one had ever believed before and I knew it. I knew it because he told me and he assured me that I was fine and doing well. He knew I had the answers within me. And when I did not, and he did not, then I found someone else who did.
- Be Courageous – I could have quit several times, but honestly, I was too naïve and moving too quickly to know that quitting was an option. Bob helped me to settle down and settle into my evolving role as a business owner and leader to my growing business and team. Quitting was not an option and it took courage to step back into the learnings and challenges. It also took courage to celebrate my successes.
My Greatest Learning
I was asked recently who my greatest teachers and mentors have been, and I am always happy to relive and share the story of my first mentor, Bob, who also played the role of my milk delivery man from Coors Dairy. Three days a week I looked forward to his smiling face, a pat on my back and a sit down to check the pulse of Laurie and her business. Bob was seemingly a simple man but a genius in his lessons. His lessons were simple, so simple that as I grew as a successful business woman, I wanted to dismiss them thinking that the answers had to be more complex. Yes, his lessons were simple, yet they have taken me 30 years to fully grasp.
My greatest learning is that if I am present, caring and believe in the person in front of me, then magic unfolds as they blossom in their own unique way to find their truth. All of the text books to learn the nuts and bolts of business or career skills are all there as they were for me when I started in business. Those were most valuable once I believed in me. It’s all pretty simple if we allow it to be.