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Have you been telling yourself “Mentoring sounds nice, but I am not a big shot corporate success story… what do I have to offer?” Let me tell you a story.
About a year ago, I overheard two Hispanic men on the subway having a conversation in Spanish. One appeared to be in his 70s while the other was perhaps in his 30s. The older gentleman was listening empathetically as the younger man talked about how unhappy he was at work job and how a friend in the same boat approached him about starting a business together. “He wants me to do this thing with him”, the young man explained, “I don’t know if that is the right thing to do. I mean, I’ve never run a business before. I suppose I should, but I can’t afford to lose money right now. And what if it doesn’t work?…and our friendship; doesn’t that put strain on it?” He went on and on, practically convincing himself he should not consider the opportunity after all.
“Hold on, son”, the older man responded, “Going to business for yourself is a beautiful and worthwhile thing. You should think about it. I had my share of small businesses growing up in the Dominican Republic from shoe shining as a kid to grocery deliveries. When I arrived in America in the 1960s, I started a laundry business for a little while with a friend. It was hard work and it is a risk, of course, but you learn important things along the way. Bottom line, you have to believe in yourself and the business. I think you could think bigger with your college education.”
The young man listened, nodding his head, as the older man listed some questions he should be asking himself before committing: Does the idea excite you? What business role would you play versus your friend in the business? How well do you know this friend? Do you think you could work together? Will one friend have more at stake than the other? What is the business risk involved? How much money do you have to invest in the business? Etc.
Soon, my subway stop came and I had to get off.
What struck me about the conversation and it made it memorable for me is the sage advice this young man was receiving would not be that much fundamentally different than what he would receive from a highly successful serial entrepreneur.
You may say “well, the advice was just common sense”, but was it? It did not seem to be to the young man. What I am trying to say is don’t undervalue your knowledge, experience and expertise. It is of value and could be vital for someone to hear. We all have something to offer; each and every one of us.
This is worth repeating: We all have something to offer. Don’t ever stop giving and sharing.