Starting with Chick-fil-A in 1988 as a team member at Woodland Hills Mall and owning a franchise was not something I had aspirations to do at that time. I was an art major with no business skills other than a desire to succeed. After 25 years with Chick-fil-A, one of the most valuable lessons I teach young entrepreneurs is the art of having a mentor. I speak to thousands of people per year and I always ask the question, “Who is your mentor, who is your Yoda?”
Why do we need a mentor? As a father of six and employer of over 100 employees at Chick-fil-A, I see mentorship opportunities daily. Whether it’s someone who wants to move up within my company or with aspirations to start their own business, a mentor will help guide them in the right direction and give invaluable advice. I still look to my mentors daily for guidance on running my business or advice on being a husband and father.
What does a mentor look like?
Depending on where you are in your journey, it could look a number of different ways.
For me, one of my first mentors was a gardener at an apartment complex who I met when I was growing up. As a kid, life was hard for me. I grew up with extreme scoliosis, my mother was an alcoholic and, due to a complicated divorce, my father was out of my life when I was 13 years old. He invested time in me. He took us on hikes into waterfalls spent time with us when my parents did not have the time, or they were too drunk to take us out.
When I started as a cashier at Chick-fil-A, I was not savvy in business and had no clue how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be. I shared some of my concerns with someone I respected and he suggested that I read “Dressing for Success” written in 1975 by John Malloy. I read this book and it literally changed my outlook overnight. By simply implementing the action steps found within this book, I found myself overflowing with the confidence that comes with looking your best.
I even have mentors in my life, they probably don’t even realize their mentors. I watch them from afar, admire how they do business, and move forward similar to how they do it. They would know me well enough to greet me when I walk up, but not necessarily someone that I hang out with on a regular basis. Of those, Mart Green of Hobby Lobby and Chet Cadieux of QuikTrip, and Dr. Z (Dr. Robert Zoellner) are at the top of my list.
What kind of mentor do people need in their life?
We all need a mentor who has actually achieved success in the area of life in which we are seeking wisdom. Stay away from obese trainers and disheveled-looking style consultants. Just take a moment to ask yourself, “Who is currently doing what I am wanting to do?” or “Who has already achieved what I want to achieve?”
How do I find a mentor?
It’s not as hard as you would think. A successful mentor’s time is extremely valuable; so do not waste their time. I am a true believer that if you share your dreams, opportunities will show themselves. My system for connecting with mentors is fairly simple.
- Try to connect with someone and tell them you are available to meet any time, anywhere
- Ask for a meeting and make sure that you are focused on creating a sustainable and mutually beneficial “win-win” relationship with your mentor.
- Maybe you do need a mentor or coach. You may feel like an accountability partner will help. Clients take bigger actions, set bigger goals and think bigger when they work with a professional coach or accountability partner and The Journey Training can help you start that process.
“Who will be your Yoda?”