Memories of my mentor

My earliest memories of my mentor were something I did not fully understand exactly what was going on until much later.

 My memories of my mentor was as my trainer

Let me explain. Back in the 70s when I started my business I had a mentor. Did I refer to John (my mentor) as my mentor?

Never. He was my manager and I suppose a trainer. Not a coach. Coaches were for athletes. Certainly the tag, “mentor” was not around. Maybe they were but not in my circle of friends and colleagues.

istockphoto-1313904539-170667a.jpegIt is good to catch up with old colleagues and reminisce and recall the stories of my mentor.

So in the early days, my memories of my mentor was as my trainer my trainer or more often referred to as my manager and in particular my sales manager.

If you have read my page on “if you’re not happy in your job” then you will understand this better.

‘Nothing happens till a sale is made.’

I was a freelance agent within an insurance company working on commission only. Hence, my oft reference to ‘Nothing happens till a sale is made.’ The fact is, if I didn’t make a sale I didn’t get my cheque. I got to say upfront there were times I did not get a cheque. That’s another story of how to survive in a hand-to-mouth environment. I will cover it later on another page. Stay tuned.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, mentor/sales manager. To be honest, here, John, my sales manager, had a vested interest in me making good. In those days, a sales manager got a proportion of the overall commission. This did not bother me one bit. What I was getting from John in training and all the stuff that goes into developing sales skills and record-keeping to grow my business was priceless.

My goal was a simple one.

The funny thing is when I look back, I never once thought or doubted I would fail. Yes, I had downsides and times when I didn’t know where the next sale would come from. That’s true in all businesses. I had the plan to succeed and a goal of sorts. My goal was a simple one. Earn more money from my business in the first year than I did working for the man last year. You know what? I did. How cool was that? With my own resources and ability, I carved out an income over what I earned the year before. I was over the moon. I just knew if I could do it once I could do it a thousand times.

The question was could I have done it without the dedication and support from John? I thought about this and the memories of my mentor over my journey and my answer is yes I could have done it without John but not as fast and not as clear and decisive.

what-are-your-business-ideas.jpgRecording business ideas and mapping out time frames, setting realistic goals and building processes around these are the foundation stones of a successful business.

This is the part I loved.

As the years went on, my strategies changed and became more predictable. Every year exceeded the previous. 

My role in the business changed to only doing what I was good at and what I enjoyed doing and that was being in front of prospects and closing the sale. This is the part I loved. This was the moment of truth. In a sales situation, it always comes down to this. Is he or she going to part with their hard-earned money to fix an issue only I could do or are they going to say the dreaded phrase, “I’d like to think about it”? Yuk yuk yuk. What is there to think about? I had drawn all the benefits and questions out and answered them with facts and logic. Now they want to think about it. 

Thankfully, I got better at this as time went by. With greater knowledge and support from John, we overcome it. The bottom line was we addressed these situations in my mentoring and sales training over time and with hard work, it was rare to get that response. 

My record-keeping proved invaluable.

The answer and the process were not where you‘d think they would be. When I recall my memories of my mentor I believe I could have worked it through over time, but with John’s guidance we changed and tweaked a few things and it fixed it. Yes, they still crept in from time to time, but overall my closing rate from my record-keeping proved invaluable.


Interesting about closing ratios. When I started my business, my ratios were the same as everyone in this industry and I dare say all sales situations. This is what the industry ratios are. This is what they referred to as the golden ratio. This is the most prolific thing the memories of my mentor gives me time and time again. The magic of the golden ratios. Thank you John.

Contact 10 people

Make 3 presentations

Sell 1

The 10:3:1 principle.

While we are here, I’ll give you some advice. 

If 1 sale netted you say $100 and you need say $500 to break even for the week, what do you have to do?

Bring it in close now. Stay with me. 

If the ratio did not break, you would have to 

Contact 50 people

Make 15 presentations

Sell 5

Job done the ratios never lie.

But a big, big BUT here. This happens in the real world.

You will contact 50 people, but you will present to many over 15 at least 33% more. You will present your sales opportunity to nearly 20. Then your sales will not get below the golden ratio and more times than I can remember it exceeded it. In reality, you would make 7 - 9 sales. Exceeding the target exceeding the golden ratio and making you a happy little businessperson.

It’s amazing how lucky you get the harder you work.

Of course, this is only an example of how things work, but in reality, it works so much better.

There is a caveat to this. Do the work. Remember, nothing happened till a sale is made. 

Another little gem I learnt in my early years is I thought I was lucky. Lucky to generate the lead, lucky they were willing to meet me, and so on. Until John pointed two things out to me.

One, it’s amazing how lucky you get the harder you work.

Two, the only time luck came before work was in the dictionary.

Receiving award from my mentorReceiving a sales award from my mentor. I had hair in those days.


In summary, it’s the work you do to achieve your goals and the other most important takeaway from this is to get yourself a mentor as soon as possible. Don’t go bashing down windmills to make sure you have the right one. Just get one. You can change it if it doesn’t work out.

You might have read some of my other posts where I have ventured into the forums around starting a business, etc. In all cases, the general theme was newbies stated they wished they had had a mentor earlier in their business. 

So, my friends, you can bumble on and work it out for yourself or you can get on board and link your star to a mentor. Just do it.

cliff climber

Experience isn't the best teacher, experience is the only teacher.