I get asked quite a bit if I have any mentors. I do — lots of them. My first and most important mentor was my dad (read my LIFEies on my dad here), but I also found mentors in our Founder, Bill Lee (read my LIFEies on Bill Lee here), my coach of 27 years, Dan Sullivan, and many others. Today, I want to share another mentor I have had now for over three decades.
In 1984, I completed my first big deal as an owner representative at Gosnell Development. I was not yet a broker. I couldn’t get hired because I didn’t have enough experience. I was able to close this transaction despite my complete and total arrogance, inexperience and lack of any market knowledge.
How did I do it? There is only one reason — Jim Watkins. At the time, Jim was a broker at Grubb & Ellis. Jim was a polished salesman, a gentle soul and a damn good teacher even though I was on the other side of the deal. I thought I knew everything, and looking back I laugh at how naive I was. Later that year, I was able to join Grubb & Ellis, partially because I had closed a few deals and started learning the business. Jim welcomed me with open arms.
Since 1984, I have not sat further than 20 feet from Jim. You can learn a lot from a real pro if you sit next to them for 35+ years. And I have, still do, and will the rest of his career. AND I am not just talking business. I am here to tell you I have learned so much from Jim about life and all of it invaluable.
In 1991, Bill Gosnell and a few others, including Jim, discussed starting our own brokerage firm. Despite my own lack of skill, Jim came to me to help recruit and build the office division. We brought in some of the best guys in the business who are still partners today. Getting invited to join the Founding Principals has been the best business decision of my life. Sitting next to Jim Watkins is one reason.
As a mentor, Jim helped teach me the business, but that is not the real value to me. He showed me:
– How to be a professional.
– How to sell.
– How to build real and lasting relationships.
– How to live your faith every day.
– How to have grace during the most challenging times.
– How to raise kids.
– How to survive a tragedy and move on.
In other words, he taught me how to be a man. Thank you, Jim. I am blessed to have you in my life.
P.S. As you may recall, I have an annual goal to spend 30 nights a year on the ground. Yep, Jim taught me how to backpack and to love the outdoors. This is Jim and me at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro at sunrise. Now that is a mentor!
Rule #6 from my book The Fantastic Life: Stay Out of the Matrix
Leaving the Matrix behind is made considerably easier by having an example to follow. Mine was Jim. Who in your life embodies the Fantastic Life? How can you learn from them to break the mold and carve a new path?