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Enlisting a Mentor in Uncertain Times

One of the big challenges with COVID-19 is there’s no playbook for how to operate a business during a pandemic. “It’s being written in real time,” said entrepreneur and author Mark Timm. “We need mentors more than ever in our life.”

Kevin Harrington, one of the original sharks on the television program “Shark Tank,” recalled some of the abrupt negative business impacts with the onset of COVID-19. “People were unemployed, people were losing their businesses. I had a couple dozen companies I was involved with, two-thirds were in trouble. Some of them were ready to close down. There were massive sales declines. These were sudden challenges people have never been through before.”

And that’s why both Harrington and Timm are so adamant about the value of having a mentor, especially during times of uncertainty. The two co-authored the book, “Mentor to Millions: Secrets of Success in Business, Relationships, and Beyond.” They finished the manuscript in January, before the pandemic struck the world with full force, but realized later that its messages are particularly strong at a time when entrepreneurs, business owners, employees and family members are concerned and anxious about the future.

“The importance of having a mentor is simple – you are learning a great deal of knowledge and life experiences from someone who has already walked the walk, someone who knows a great deal about what you want to learn,” said Harrington, known as The Inventor of the Infomercial. “I’ve been an entrepreneur for 40 years. I’ve seen the ups and downs. I was an entrepreneur during the Gulf War in the 1990s. We had distribution all across Europe and Latin America. Sales went down 90% for 30 days. People weren’t going to television to buy something, they were going to TV, CNN, to find out what was happening on the news.”

Those who have been unwillingly awake in the wee hours of the day will likely recognize the power of the infomercial, Harrington’s creation, especially if they ever owned products like the Ab Coaster or Quantum Vac. Harrington, a successful entrepreneur before he could drive, has widely demonstrated the concept of Exponential Thinking, multiplying the reach of a product, service or idea. He recognized television stations had hours of dead air in the late night and early morning. He proposed to buy half-hour blocks for the amount that the airtime would have cost for commercial spots if they were sold and inserted into 30-minute programs. Then he worked with entrepreneurs to demonstrate their products during that time.

He notes that lucrative television advertising opportunities exist again with COVID-19. As businesses closed and events were canceled, advertisers pulled their commercials, leaving airtime available at discounted rates.

Timm, co-founder of Cottage Garden, Inc. and president and CEO of Ziglar Family, reached out to Harrington after he experienced what became a revelatory moment seven years ago. “Halfway up my driveway, I realized I didn’t want to go home. I should have wanted to. I’d had the kind of day at work that every entrepreneur dreams of,” he writes. “I’d absolutely crushed it. It was one of those days where I made 100 business decisions, and 99 of them were home runs – one of which was scoring an incredibly big sale. I’d had great meetings, terrific phone calls – everything was humming.”

He didn’t want the euphoria to end. “I knew that as soon as I made it to the end of that driveway and walked into my house, I’d be hit with the chaos and confusion of my family.”

In that moment, Timm recognized he was disconnected from the people who matter most to him and that his kids probably didn’t know what he did, only that he was gone a lot and missed their ballgames. As he turned to Harrington for meaningful guidance, he quickly realized that connectivity is key to professional and personal success. In the book, the two uber-successful entrepreneurs share lessons that can be gleaned from a mentor/mentee relationship and how Timm took those messages home.

“I want entrepreneurs out there to know that the most valuable business that they will ever own, ever operate, ever create or be a part of is the one they go home to every single night,” he said. “I want people to bring their best and first [to their families] instead of their last and their least. I’m highly qualified to be the evangelist for this message because I got it wrong longer than I got it right.”

Timm began conducting business meetings with his family. They identified strengths and weaknesses of the team members, delegated tasks and created plans to achieve their goals.

“What happened is they figured out they had a voice,” he said. “And that was so powerful for them to have that voice and a vote in our family business, which was our family. It’s shaped them. It’s transformed the way they think, the decisions they’ve made, careers that they’re going into, all because of that one pivot.”

As a mentor to his children, he began inviting them along on his business trips whenever he traveled.

In addition to the concept of Exponential Thinking, Timm documented other principles for success he observed through his mentorship with Harrington, such as the Fair Deal. In the book, Harrington describes how an unfair deal results in unhappy parties. “A deal that isn’t fair isn’t scalable,” he said. “The loser drops out.”

Aggressive Curiosity is another concept they describe. Timm recalls a story about being on a flight with Harrington, who brought a trash bag full of business journals into First Class. He methodically went through each one, tearing out and saving articles that piqued his interest. Timm notes that successful people are voracious readers.

“The real change that you need to make if you want to change who you are, where you are and the results you’re getting in life, begins with the change of what you put between your ears,” said Timm. “It begins with the change of what you’re listening to, what you’re reading, what you’re consuming, and then you change your mind and it’s amazing how everything else changes. The domino effect begins.”

“Mentor to Millionaire” also explores fear, failure and action. Harrington believes that action creates confidence, not the other way around. He also believes failure is part of the process.

“Winston Churchill said, ‘Success is going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.’ Sometimes mentoring somebody is educating them on the fact that not every day is going to be rosy, in fact, hey you failed. That’s okay. Get up. Dust yourself off. You learned,” said Harrington. “Once I realized that, I didn’t let failure bother me anymore because I knew that the successes were just around the corner and my motivation was to get more products. What I needed to do then, if I was doing 10 products a year and I’m going to hit on one out of three, that means I’m going to fail on seven out 10 maybe, and succeed on three out of 10, but I’m only going to have three successes for the year. Let’s go do 50! With the same percentages, we’re going to end up with 15 or 18 successes. When you realize failure is part of business, you don’t let it demotivate you. Stay strong. Go for it and understand that’s just a factor of business and life.”

Both Harrington and Timm call motivational speaker and salesman Zig Ziglar one of their mentors. They continue to promote his philosophy through the Ziglar Family and follow his advice, including this quote that speaks to mentoring: “You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”

“I believe we were put on this Earth to do something extraordinary, and we’re not supposed to do it alone,” said Timm. “If you surround yourself with mentors and advocates, you greatly increase your odds of seeing fantastic success. I want to give people permission to raise your hand, ask for help. If you’re out there and you’re reading this, if you’ve got a product, purpose or passion that could impact a million people – the fastest way to impact them is through mentorship. Doing it alone is linear. That is a slow, compounded growth process that takes a lifetime. If you want to impact people exponentially and you want to do it now, mentorship is the fastest way.”

The two maintain that a mentorship is something that comes together for a purpose and has a conclusion. In the book, they discuss how to find a mentor and what a mentor might cost – sometimes nothing, monetarily – and how to get the most out of a mentorship, as well as the importance of giving back as a mentor to someone else.

“I want to make sure that readers know that they not only need to have mentors, but they need to be a mentor. That’s the equation,” said Timm. “You first need to have the right mentors in your life and then you need to be the right mentor in other people’s lives. And then sit back and watch the fireworks begin. Because you just lit the fuse to impact millions and to becoming a mentor to millions with that equation.”

The book, “Mentor to Millions: Secrets of Success in Business, Relationships, and Beyond,” is now available. By purchasing through kevinmentor.com, readers have access to additional business resources, as well. FBN

By Bonnie Stevens, FBN

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