Rich people take advice from people who are richer than they are. Poor people take advice from their friends, who are just as broke as they are.” – T. Harv Eker
Let’s face it. We all have holes in our game. Although Shaquille O’Neal is largely considered one of the most dominant players in the NBA, he still struggles with consistently hitting his free throws. Even the most accomplished and wealthiest people will tell you that there are many areas in their life — even when it comes to money — that they struggle with. People who get over their issues do two things: 1) They identify that they need help and 2) They seek help from the right sources.
When I began my career at Marcus & Millichap, one of the first tasks I had was identifying a mentor. I arranged interviews with four separate, highly accomplished senior agents in the firm. I was nervous and felt out of my league but I didn’t hold back during my interviews. I asked the agents how much money they made, how much their previous juniors had made before me, what they could offer me that the other agents couldn’t, and the product type they specialized in. If I was going to split my first three transactions with this person and learn everything they knew, I had to make sure that they were going to be worth every bit of the minimum $30,000 I was going to have to pay them.
After the interviews, I was impressed with each of the agents and felt like I could definitely work with some more than others. I knew who my number-one choice was and scheduled a meeting with Jonathan — the regional manager who hired me.
As soon as I sat down, he asked, “So who’s it going to be?”
I told him, “Well I was hoping it would be you.”
He laughed. “I can’t mentor you. I’m a manager.”
“You mentor every one in this office. I want the best of the best.” And I meant it.
He informed me that his duties as a manager would seriously limit the time he would have available for me. I didn’t care. Fifteen minutes with him was worth an hour with somebody else. He said he wouldn’t be able to join me on meetings since he was often out of town. As long as he would be available by phone, I was fine with that. He said that phone conversations wouldn’t always be possible. He also insisted that there would be times that he would require that I work with another agent which would potentially mean an additional split and lower commissions to me. That didn’t change my mind either. I started to worry that I was going to lose this battle so I decided to sweeten the deal…
“I’ll offer you 5 deals and $50,000.” I blurted it out without even really thinking about it but, in my mind, I was still getting the bargain of the century.
He smiled and I could tell he was thinking about it. He told me to think about it overnight and said that we could discuss it again the next day. I talked to some of the junior agents in the office and asked them what they thought of my decision to go with Jonathan. They gave me their picks out of the senior agents that I interviewed with and told me to give up on getting Jonathan. It wasn’t going to happen.
The next morning, I walked into his office as soon as I arrived at work and stated, “I haven’t changed my mind.” He extended his arm to shake my hand, “Congratulations. You just got yourself a senior.” I was thrilled but played it cool as I thanked him and shook his hand. Even though I hadn’t made a dime yet, I knew that I had just made the best $50,000 purchase possible. I was walking out of his office when he called after me, “There’s one more thing…” I stopped. “Managers can’t collect commissions. You just got me for free.” I was shocked. After so many obstacles and disappointing rejections, it felt like the sun was finally rising after the world’s longest night. That year, I would be named Rookie of the Year in the #1 office of the #1 commercial brokerage firm in the country.
We all need help, but many single mothers need help more than others. In my case, there was a time that I’d rather give away my front teeth before I’d ask for help … That is, until my need for help outweighed my pride.
The fact was I needed help. The best decision I ever made (without even realizing I was making it) was seeking help from an authority in the field I was pursuing. You have to seek mentorship from those who know more than you and not from those who reinforce the belief systems that you already hold. You are not growing if you are comfortable. You are not learning if you are simply reinforcing. When it came to becoming wealthy, I needed guidance and sought it from the best teacher I could find – Jonathan Weiss. I campaigned to get him. I took a risk and it paid off more than just financially. I became a better person in the process. This was the first victory after a long series of defeats but the story — and the lessons — were just beginning.