By Rob Simons
One of the unexpected pleasures I’ve found when using ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft is the opportunity to meet interesting drivers and learn about their personal stories. I enjoy hearing about what prompted them to become a driver. It’s not uncommon to learn that they’re leveraging the flexibility of the ride-sharing schedule to support their education or an entrepreneurial pursuit.
Recently, after finding out that I coach businesses, an Uber driver asked me a great question, “What is the best piece of advice you would give a young entrepreneur?” I responded to him with a quote from one of my mentors, Robert Wagnon, “To have an extraordinary life, you have to surround yourself with extraordinary people.”
It’s true — nothing has advanced my personal and professional growth more than the quality of people in my personal network. As a result, I often suggest to entrepreneurs and business leaders a few actions to build and maintain a great business network.
Here are four ways to surround yourself with extraordinary people:
- Start by actively seeking mentors. The best way to achieve your goals is to learn from someone that has already accomplished similar goals. That being said, it’s not always easy to find the right mentor. In order to find someone from whom you can learn, it’s important to be active in your search. Start by asking entrepreneurs, leaders or thought-leaders that you admire if they would be willing to be a mentor to you. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how willing people are to share their experiences and time. If you find a mentor, be respectful of their time and always show your appreciation for their support. And when appropriate, pay it forward by becoming a mentor to someone else.
- 2. Next, identify and join organizations that will support your professional and personal growth. Almost every industry has organizations that provide ongoing news, conferences, and professional connections. Also, look for groups in your local community where you can meet individuals outside of your industry. Sometimes a connection at a church, non-profit or service organization can be invaluable at moving your career forward. One of the best decisions I made as a young entrepreneur was to join the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (www.eonetwork.org), an international non-profit association that engages leading entrepreneurs in learning and growing. The core of EO is a peer-based forum of other entrepreneurs in non-competing industries who also want to learn and grow. Over time, I discovered that surrounding myself with other successful entrepreneurs challenged me to improve myself and my business.
- Attend workshops, conferences, and seminars. In addition to showcasing great speakers, events provide a great forum to meet like-minded individuals who share similar interests. When attending an event, make sure you get out of your comfort zone and meet as many people as possible. And make sure to follow up with people you meet at these events, such as connecting with them through social media sites, especially LinkedIn.
- Finally, read. Books, blogs, and articles are the most accessible way to tap into the minds of extraordinary people. Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, longtime business partners at Berkshire Hathaway, estimate that they spend 80 percent of their working day reading. Charlie stated succinctly, “Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.”
Books provide a virtually unlimited number of choices for great topics and authors. I personally read a lot of business books, but I also read biographies of successful people. The biographies give me insight into the lives, habits and experiences of people I will never meet — sometimes providing valuable lessons that affect the way I work and coach other businesses.
Whether it’s in the back of an Uber or at a networking event, make a commitment to get out of your comfort zone and engage with extraordinary people. After all, the lessons, experiences and friendships you build will directly contribute to an extraordinary life.
A thirteen-year member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Rob Simons is a certified Gazelles International Four Decisions™ coach for Petra Coach – a Nashville-based company that companies hire to help build a culture of purpose, alignment, and accountability by implementing the Rockefeller Habits. Rob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210-845-2782.