My company has grown quite a bit over the last 20 years, and I've had some success. I've learned a lot from a lot of people, and for that I'm grateful. At some unknown point in time however, I have outgrown the advice of almost everyone that helped me in the past. I'm bigger, more successful and more profitable than all of them. Which is great. But I have nobody I can talk to anymore when I need advice. My problems are not the kind that my former mentors can solve.
There are people on this forum that have similar size and experience I feel to what I have, but who wants to air out their questions in public? And who wants to offer free advice of the nature I'm looking for?
Where do you go for mentorship when you're questions have millions of dollars at stake, instead of hundreds or thousands? When its no longer about woodworking, but about business? Big business.
I joined Vistage to get good advice, and it's been very helpful. I'm matched with a group of peers - companies of comparable size from a variety of industries. This gives me a good group of people to discuss problems that are common to every growing business.
You might try your local business college or technical college. Those institutions generally like to hire instructors with real life business experience, I know I used to be one of them. They also like to get involved in local businesses; it's good for the students, good for the companies and good for the institution.
Of course I don't know if the specific schools around your area have the exact expertise you are looking for, but there's only one way to find out ... and asking is free!
"There are people on this forum that have similar size and experience I feel to what I have, but who wants to air out their questions in public? And who wants to offer free advice of the nature I'm looking for?"
The answer to that is a lot of people. People love giving advice. I'm a professional airer outer of questions here, and I'm just some kid with a whole lot of questions. People here are really into what they do.
As for the "public" aspect--I hear you... it's why I'm anonymous here. And in terms of public feedback, once in a while you get unnecessary angry venom, but that's a drop in the ocean. People here are really into it, and most likely are facing similar problems to yours.
Of course get a private mentor if you can, but I must say that the folks here have yielded gold for me, and so far no question has been left unanswered.
I've been pondering the same thing....with 15 years in the industry, and over a decade of regularly looking on here I keep seeing a lot of history repeat itself in the posts. Don't get me wrong, I love this forum. It has helped propel my career much in the way it will probably propel mel's....
This year I decided to attend the Executive Business Conference that Stiles puts on. It was very good. Helped to maintain the perspective of business. One concept a presenter introduced was a "reverse mentor". The idea is that technology and processes are changing so fast, that having someone younger to bounce things off can help you identify opportunities you didn't know existed.
I've also been following the Entreleadership Podcasts, and The American Inventor (Paul Akers, Owner of FastCap). These have been helpful in forming perspective.
I also read alot. But nothing would take place of a one on one with a mentor.
Kay so I'm just going to go out on a limb and say it...
I think that what is often in the way of mutual learning is that people are, for some reason, a little aggressive with responses. I see this time and time again--some guy has some thing he is struggling with, posts it, and 15 people close to present it like he's an idiot for not knowing the answer to his question.
Not saying it's all the time and everyone, but I think that it's there enough to stop a lot of people that are more conservative from asking questions.
There are a coupe of options out there that have worked for me. The first is a best practice group from AWI and the second is EO.
This is like Vistage but less expensive and is member lead instead of the huge commissions that Vistage leader get.
Years ago I went to a big city chamber event and they had small breakout sessions. I was looking at the time for help on things and met a business coach we worked together for about 5 years and I learned a ton of things from him. We still stay in touch today even though he is on to other things. I can't tell you where to find one, but a good one will be well worth it.
when I was smaller I did a lot of networking with people within my industry. At some point I cut that back a lot because I had outgrown those companies. I found I had to be working with people that had the same growth goals as I did. If your a million dollar company it doesnt work networking with a guy doing $400k or a guy doing 10 million.
Hi Calvin, I just started to work with SCOPE, a business mentoring function of the small business association. I'm sure you're already familliar with them but if not, they are a free service and mentors all have big business entrepreneurial backgrounds so might be worth a look. I hope thats not useless info for you but I wanted to offer my 10c worth. :-) Good luck.
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