Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Of Mentors and Mastermind Groups

by Vince Rogers

Suppose that you were a novice investor, presented with two options for learning to understand the ins and outs of navigating the markets. The first option would be attending regularly scheduled face-to-face meetings with legendary investor Warren Buffet. The other choice presented to you is attending weekly group discussions between beginning, intermediate and experienced investors. Which alternative would you choose?
Warren Buffet is arguably the most successful investor in history. Most up-and-coming investors would probably consider regular interaction with him to be the ultimate choice. However, because of the resources that Mr. Buffet has at his disposal, his risk and reward decisions are based on buying thousands of shares of a stock. The deals that he might suggest to you may prove to be impractical if you can only buy just a few shares.
Conversely, the weekly meetings with a wide range of investors might provide you with exposure to variety of useful information. However, if you have recently inherited millions of dollars and just happen to have an MBA in Finance, you may benefit more from the weekly buffet with Buffet. A combination of both close intimate personal and dynamic group interactions might be the preferable way to obtain the career guidance you seek. Therefore, it is important that you understand how to choose the right trusted Mentor and/or how to join or form an effective Mastermind Group
Defining Mentors and Mastermind Groups
The term Mentor is of ancient origins. Mentor is a figure from Greek mythology who during the Trojan War was the advisor of Telemachus, the son of Odysseus. The modern mentor/mentee relationship can be formal or informal. The fundamental characteristic of the relationship is that a more experienced or knowledgeable person (Mentor) provides some form of guidance to another person (Mentee).
Mastermind Group is a more recent conception. The idea derives from a term introduced by Napoleon Hill in the classic self-development book “Think and Grow Rich”. However, such advisory council type relationships have existed as long as human beings have formed organizations. Hill defined a Mastermind Group as follows: "The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony."
The concept of the Mastermind Group had been out of fashion for a time. Yet with the advent of other collaborative business and professional tools such as Social Networking, Coworking, and Crowdfundingthe use of collaborative tools and resources are now all the rage. Conversely, until lately the Mentor concept has been in vogue. Yet in recent years the mentoring model and the associated expectations of such relationships are now being regarded by some as outdated and unrealistic.
Finding a Mentor or a Mastermind Group.
As stated earlier, I don’t think the choice is really an either or proposition. Mentoring relationships are valuable and successful ones are priceless. Mentoring relationships may come about organically through a chance meeting or via an introduction by a mutual friend. They may also be formal relationships such as apprenticeships or a condition for being accepted into a professional organization. To help you find an empowering mentoring relationship, here are a few suggestions that you might consider:
1. Clarity - Be clear about why you want a Mentor and your expectations from the relationship.
2. Compatibility - Your personality and communications styles should be conducive to developing a good working relationship.
3. Connection - A mentor should be someone who mirrors your own values, not just someone who has achieved the career stature that you’d like to achieve.
4. Collaboration – In all successful relationships, reciprocity is the recipe for prosperity. You should seek to contribute as much to the relationship as you expect to withdraw.
There are several different ways to find a Mastermind Group. For example, you can participate in your existing groups online or find face-to-face opportunities via However, a very strategic way of finding the Mastermind Group that best suits you is to start it yourself. Some tips for starting a Mastermind Group are as follows:
1. Make a list of the ideal people that you would like to interact with, whether you know them or not.
2. Begin to invite them one by one to have coffee or a meal in an informal setting.
3. Then invite a few key people to an informal gathering at your home or other casual setting where you also discuss the formation of the Mastermind Group.
4. After gaining a commitment from your key people, and interest from other prospective members, arrange to have your first meeting.
Finding the right Mentor or joining the right Mastermind Group could lead to expanding your personal brand in ways that you couldn’t imagine. A Mentor can help you to expand your vision and avoid common pitfalls on the road to success. Membership in a dynamic and diverse Mastermind Group can expand your career horizons exponentially. Gaining access to either one or both could prove to be the best career decisions that you ever make.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

You Need A Bio!

by Vince Rogers
Your resume is like a personal Operating Statement. Your Education section states what you’ve invested in your enterprise over time. Your Experience section shows the output that you have produced over time. Hopefully, when you present this statement to a potential prospect, it provides a clear picture of your overall career Net Worth.
It has probably been years since many of you have been asked for a resume. This is primarily because you have achieved a level of expertise and generated a word of mouth reputation that opens most doors. Yet at some point, you will ultimately be asked to produce a resume. This may be the case when pursuing some opportunity that requires verifiable documentation of credentials.
Yet in most cases, you will probably just be asked for a simple resume to document your professional accomplishments. If that is the case, you may make more of an impression by producing a compelling personal Bio instead. If your resume is a simple operating statement, then the Bio is a bottom line statement of the overall intrinsic and extrinsic value of your Personal Brand. A well written Bio differentiates you from the competition and positions you as an authority in your field.
Everybody loves a good story. More importantly, good personal or professional relationships are built upon people connecting with each other. There is probably no better way to get people to like you than to get them to connect with your story. Your resume enables a person to know something about you, but your bio compels them to get to know you.
One of the acknowledged experts on writing a Bio is Storytelling expert Michael Margolis the “Dean” of Story University According to Margolis, there are 3 questions all people want to know about you:
1. Do I share something in common with you?
2. How do we relate to each other?
3. Are you relevant to my success?
He insists that nowadays it's your Bio that people want to read first, not your resume. In order to make you Bio stand out, he claims that it must also answer the following 5 Questions:
1. Who am I?
2. How can I help you?
3. How did I get where I am?
4. Why can you trust me?
5. What do we share in common?
Personally, I have 4 different Bios for: Business; Leadership; Writing and Academics. While you may not need four bios (and I probably don’t either) these are 4 good categories to consider when constructing your Bio. The goal is to turn your list of accomplishments into a compelling narrative. You may do this by answering the following 4 questions
1. Why did you choose the school you attended and your discipline or major?
2. Why did you become a published writer and why do you write about these subjects?
3. Why did you choose to take positions of leadership in your industry or community?
4. Why did you choose your profession and why do you want to continue in the future?
By answering these questions and following the steps outlined previously, you should be able to create a very compelling narrative. Undertaking the exercise of writing your Bio should also provide you with some clarity and perspective about your past, present and future professional goals. Being able to tell your story is an essential component to building your personal brand. Writing your Bio should also enable you to assess how effectively you are presenting your Personal Brand and help direct the course of your future Personal Branding Strategy.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Is Your Industry Dying or Changing?

by Vince Rogers

What comes to mind when you hear the words book store, post office, home phone or public library? These entities used to be as fundamental to our way of life as air and water. Now physical books are being replaced by e-readers, letters in your mailbox have been cancelled out by e-mails in your inbox and the mobile-phone has diminished the combined necessity of the precision wristwatch, the digital camera, the pocket calculator and even the portable music player. Technological advancement and consumer demand are acting in unison to interject constant change into all aspects of our lives’.
Some people say that all change is good. Yet, that doesn't change the fact that sometimes it catches many people completely off guard. If you are unprepared for change you can become overwhelmed, anxious and even downright desperate. Change often happens in gradual recognizable steps, rather than rapid surges. Nevertheless, most of us tend to have change thrust upon us instead of being prepared.
The changes that I've already mentioned affect people not just as consumers, but also affect your current and future career decisions. Staying on top of changes and trends in your industry must become a vital concern, regardless of whether you’re a new-hire or a seasoned executive. In fact, knowing what’s going on in your industry can make the difference between whether you’re looking forward to receiving a big promotion or being abruptly laid off. A savvy, career-focused employee should put themselves in a position to recognize the signs well in advance.
For instance let's consider the future of the aforementioned public library. The internet has become most people’s principle research tool. The internet and e-books have replaced the need to sift through the card catalog or lug home a big heavy book. Furthermore, the coffee shop has become the preferred destination of those who wish to eat, drink and be merry while they read. They prefer this more social setting to being constantly reminded by the mean old librarian to shush. Yet in Birmingham, England they just recently constructed a new $300 million (£188m) library!
So what do they know that we don’t? Apparently, they know that regardless of changes in the future customers that they serve and the changing format of the product that they deliver; there is still a vital need for a free public space that educates people. The big question is determining what type of resources do they need to make available to their changing public? According to Brian Gambles, a project director at the new library in Birmingham, the library of the future must contribute to the surrounding community by actively being a “….part of a better economic future.…”. It can no longer just be a place to sit and read a good book.
This type of proactive approach to embracing and understanding change is not just limited to progressive Brits. Here in Atlanta at the West End Branch of the public library system, Robert E. White a Library Associate, is embracing the change he saw taking place in his industry and responding to the needs of the surrounding community. Over the years, the library has incorporated special programming that suits the specific needs of the patrons that they serve. They provide offerings that range from sewing classes that cater to the local Senior communities, to Search Engine Optimization workshops that target aspiring entrepreneurs hoping to join the ranks of thriving West End businesses.
White was inspired by personal vision and professional necessity to enter a Master’s degree program in order to enhance his understanding of changes in his industry. He is now envisioning a plan to one day transform the library from a learning center into an empowerment institution. White believes that the Library will one day become a “....Regional Center for continuing education and economic empowerment that fills in the learning gaps for all types of education, career and business development needs...." This focus is indicative of the type of control and confidence that comes from having a proactive commitment to understanding the changes taking place in your industry.
In addition to earning a new advanced degree in your field like Mr. White, some other ways to keep up with changes in your industry are as follows:
1) Ask the Audience – Create a questionnaire or opinion poll that helps you gain information about how your industry is perceived by customers, co-workers, clients, etc.
2) Phone-a-Friend – Find an expert in your field or mentor that you can regularly communicate with about changes in your industry.
3) Final Answer – Once you have decided on a course of action, be decisive. Take action, whether it means looking for new opportunities in your current industry, or switching to a new career field altogether.
People often refer to the decline of the "Buggy Whip" industry, due to the emergence of the automobile, as a metaphor for companies being unresponsive to change. In actuality, few industries totally disappear. Yet all industries experience change and transformation. Understanding the changes taking place in your industry can be the key to building a career based on processing good information, instead being at the mercy of other people making moves.