Mentoring magic: give back to get ahead

By Steven McCarty

The National Ethics Association


Young people’s eyes are affixed on the future. “Where am I headed?” they ask. “How will I get there? And what fun will I have along the way?” During their journeys, they learn how to identify the people, wisdom and money they need to fulfill their dreams.

But experienced advisors have less future ahead of them. So their focus shifts partly to the past, to the lessons they’ve learned, the people who guided them, and the good times they’ve had.

One of my main lessons? That having a mentor was invaluable. I would not have succeeded in the insurance business had it not been for Mike, my very first sales manager.

Here are just a few of the things Mike taught me:

1. Do the right thing, even if it hurts. When you look in the mirror every day, you'd better like what you see. So, when you do your daily mirror check, don’t just make sure your face is in order. Remind yourself that (a) the previous day was a moral and ethical success, and (b) today is a new day and you will conduct yourself honorably in all things.

2. Do more for others than they do for you. Be more than fair. This will help you weather the inevitable storms that test business relationships. But also recognize that sometimes roles will shift and your partner will pull the wagon. In business, "even Steven" is never a permanent condition.

3. “If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything” and “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Mike used these familiar lines to emphasize the value of living each day with purpose. Strategic planning ensures that you'll hit the ground running the next day with energy, confidence and the highest chance of success.

4.“People don't want to be sold, but they love to buy” and “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. But if you lead him around the track enough times…” Mike believed that if you really know your clients and their true needs, the buying process will be enjoyable for both you and them. Intimidation, hard selling, sales lines, gimmicks, or half-truths are harmful practices that destroy trust.

Mike was a great mentor, and he inspired me to mentor others. And so today, I’d like to encourage you to become a mentor, as well. Why? Because:
  • Our business desperately needs new blood; the median age of an advisor today is 56.

  • Young advisors face an increasingly perilous climb into the business; they need strong helping hands.

  • Older advisors must never stop learning, and teaching the young keeps aging minds agile.
Finally, mentoring helps you to create the future, while leaving a legacy in the process. Now that’s a lesson worth learning!