Many know me from the TV show Shark Tank or my bestselling book The Power of Broke. Many also know me from my FUBU brand of clothing and accessories. Yet, what many do not see is what lies behind these many successes. After all, few of my readers envision me behind the broom of a bodega in Queens, NY, and yet this is precisely where I got my start and picked up the fundamentals of success.
How did this work train me for success? It started with my mentor, the man who owned that bodega. Watching him, I was not watching a millionaire power broker or someone who did enormous global deals each day. No, what I was watching was a business professional who had built a very successful enterprise.
He hadn’t started out with a bank account full of money to burn, a trust fund, or tons of capital. What he had was the desire to succeed, a dream, and the willingness to do the work to get there. That is always the first key—having the goal. People who know me already know one of my key motivational tips is to have a target. You have to set that target and write it down! You have to commit to it. After all, as I so often explain, “You cannot target what you cannot see.”
That is where a mentor like mine can really help. I saw his success, saw what he was doing to make it happen, and understood how he was turning any “weaknesses” into assets. Because he couldn’t hire lots of employees, he had to do most of the work. He tackled the work that needed to be done, made the sacrifices, and committed to doing what it took to succeed. Even after his business was thriving and steady, he was still doing what it took—and paying it forward by showing me a model for success.
EMPIRE BUILDING 101
Even as I was just starting out, I saw three important keys to success. They were:
• You can do it without money
• You must use weaknesses as assets
• You must have a mentor
Adversity, struggles, hardships, and even some pretty costly “schooling” in failures can show you the “power of broke,” which I so often advocate. Being broke can be a bit of a blessing in disguise because it forces you to really take control and get as “hands on” as necessary for building the business. That’s what I mean by using a weakness as an asset. I learned this important lesson from my mentor.
IDENTIFYING YOUR MENTORS
The word mentor can be confusing to a lot of people because it sounds intimidating and even complex. However, a good mentor is not someone who should intimidate you at all. They should share your mission, share your values, and serve as a support and sounding board.
A mentor can be a professional eager to share their knowledge and help others reach goals through speaking engagements, books, or consultations. They can also be that bodega owner who has built their empire by using weakness as an asset and choosing their own mentors who empowered them. Your mentor or mentors could be the people you choose to surround yourself with. The people who are your crew or peers, who agree on a mission and work together to see it happen. There are mentors everywhere, but it is your job to notice them and recognize the guidance they will offer.
Never stop looking for mentors! I say that life is a series of mentors, and it is essential that you keep looking for them as you grow your skills and empire.