Tag Archives: entrepreneurs

About me

I’m Angie! I was married for 13 years and I have two children from the marriage, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Gabrielle and our son Anthony. My children are karate instructors and I am very proud of them.

I am now 51 and although I was born and raised in Haiti, I now reside in the United States. I went to high school in NYC and my mother wanted my siblings and me to have a better life, so we moved to New Jersey!

My son Anthony Diaz-Cervo has a vlog channel on YouTube where he shares parts of his life, and my daughter has a blog www.fiercelybeautifulblog.com. I wanted my own creative outlet to express myself. With that being said, I originally started blogging for the karate school I had with my then husband, beginning of 1996 as somewhat of a hobby because I simply love to write.

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial attitude and love owning something of my own. This blog has become so much more than a hobby to me, I’ve been fortunate enough to pursue this as my growing career, one I have always dreamed of.

I have so many interests; motherhood, parenting, fashion, writing, self-development and so much more which is why I chose my name to use as my blog title. I thought for months, “what kind of title represents me?” and I just couldn’t think of anything more fitting than my own name.

I am a go with the flow type of gal with a passion for creating. I am always looking for fun, exciting opportunities to work with brands and companies to create great content together!

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Failure Is Not the End. It’s an Opportunity to Learn.

 


By Ronald Burr @ronburr

 

It was 1998. I walked into my first meeting with my now friend Bill Gross, the founder and CEO of Idealab. I was shown to a conference room that had quotes on the wall, and one of them, from Thomas Edison, immediately jumped out at me: “I have not failed 1,000 times, I have successfully found 1,000 ways that will not make a light bulb.” This quote, or at least some version of it, is the mantra of every successful entrepreneur.

We learn about failure early in life. Kids race each other on the playground and are tested in school and given grades each year, quickly learning what it means to win or lose, pass or fail. Not winning tends to have a stigma around it, and can ultimately lead to labels like “failure” or “loser.” Too many people allow external views to define their self-worth and thus are afraid of ridicule stemming from these unfair labels, which we even give to our own friends and family. Through societal behavior, we teach people to not be risk takers.

I’m not here to say there is no such thing as failure. Failure is very real, but it is not an end destination — it’s another event in the course of life. Experiencing one failure or 100 does not make you a failure. Failure is an external event that happens. It is not a personality characteristic. One who fails a lot, we could say, takes a lot of risks. It’s important to separate the events of failure from the personal characteristic of being a failure.

Failure is an opportunity to learn. When we confuse our personal sense of self-value with success, we are restricting our ability to learn because our ego becomes another factor in this equation. Our ego tells us we succeeded because we’re so smart and so great, or that we failed because we are a loser and can’t win at anything.

This clouds the analytical process of simply looking at the results of a situation and asking ourselves, “What happened?” There are key questions to ask in order to learn and grow from past mistakes.

  • How did I approach this?”
  • How prepared was I?”
  • What was within my control to change and what was not?”
  • Of the things within my control, what other actions could I have taken that might have produced a different outcome?”

Likewise, success can equally blind us from learning. Just like failure, success is an external event and does not necessarily define you as a winner. Many entrepreneurs who have experienced success make the mistake of believing they did it all on their own, forgetting the team and support that helped them achieve their goals. Of course, they made good decisions at the right time, worked hard and achieved success, but in almost all cases, there were other team members who assisted in the win.

Because failure is so bitingly painful, it tends to get more personal introspection than success. However, it’s the entrepreneurs’ optimistic “never say die” attitude that can also get in the way of self-evaluation and looking at the contributing causes of failure. Learn to separate the event of failure from your personal identity and invest in objectively reviewing the situation and trying a different approach next time. This relates to a core message I share with every entrepreneur — be ruthlessly honest with yourself and others. Denial is your worst enemy.

Strive to find flaws in your ideas or processes and eliminate them. You are only doomed to repeatedly fail if you choose not to learn from your past mistake

How to Become Memorable in a Noisy World The secret to connecting with anyone.

By Daniel Gefen 

The Internet has introduced  powerful tools to connect millions of people with the simple click of a button.

An email, a tweet, a post. Within seconds, you can reach more people than your ancestors did in a lifetime.

The world has become a ‘numbers game,’ but nobody cares about being a number.

The same tools that you have at your disposal are easily accessible to the other seven billion people on this planet, which means that everyone is being bombarded with emails, tweets, messages and ads on a daily basis.

The way people act online reminds me of how people act when driving their cars.

Normal, well mannered people step into their cars and evolve into insensitive masters of metal.

All of a sudden, everyone else becomes ‘objects’ to avoid, ignore, honk at, shout out, cut off, curse at, etc.

The world has become faceless, but humans crave human interaction.

I started to realize the power of human interaction and developing deep relationships when I started my podcast. It’s amazing what 45-minutes talking to someone can actually do for a relationship. I have interviewed over 65 successful entrepreneurs and make an effort to keep in touch with each of them.

They are all busy people and are probably bombarded with messages from fans trying to connect. But here’s the secret:

They are human beings. And human beings crave deep, meaningful relationships. 

How many times has someone tried to get your attention with the same lazy piece of spam?

If it doesn’t work to get your attention, then why try using it to get the attention of others?

The Internet has made people lazy. It’s so easy to mass message or post quick meaningless things in the hope that a percentage of the masses will react.

Lazy people hope for the best. Successful people work hard to make things happen.

Here are some ways you can become memorable:

  • Instead of posting ‘Happy Birthday’ on someones timeline and getting lost in the masses, take 60 seconds and send them a happy birthday video message. They will remember you for it!
  • Instead of posting useless, mindless one liners,  post something deep and interactive
  • Reach out to people one on one and start a personal conversation
  • Dare I say it—pick up the phone and call people
  • Instead of commenting on other people’s posts with the same old one word replies like “cool” or “#Truth,” put some time into sharing how their post impacted you
  • Surprise people by sending them a gift in the mail

Most importantly, keep in touch with people on a regular basis—at least once every 90 days.

Ask yourself, what makes others memorable to you?

Now go and become memorable!

Understanding Your Socical Currency is the Key to Success

 


Understanding Your Socical Currency is the Key to Success

By Gerard Adams @IAMGerardAdams

The way you value people, and the way people value you, isn’t perfectly measurable. However, we can see trends that occur between different types of people.

Many entrepreneurs, including myself, believe that the people we spend the most time around will dictate who we are as people. It was perhaps best described by entrepreneur Jim Rohn, who stated that we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. While the math may not be perfect, the idea is pretty clear. We pick up the habits, thoughts and actions of those we spend time with. If we surround ourselves with hard workers, we tend to pick up their hard-working ethic.

Conversely, the people we spend the most time with are picking up habits from us. If we are hard workers, people will naturally want to keep us close. The closer you look, the more you’ll see that you’re picking up the habits of those close to you — and they’re picking up yours.

While we may not be the average of just five people, we are an average of our circle of influence. The more successful people we know, the more likely we are to be successful ourselves. I like to measure the value of people within your circle of influence with something I call social currency. Social currency is your value, and it can mean everything if you’re striving to be an entrepreneur.

Social currency isn’t a label that says one person is better than another. Instead, it represents your value to the world. By developing your social currency, you can move closer to living the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Developing your brand.

Entrepreneurs understand the importance of branding. But we can brand much more than a business or an idea. Everybody is their own brand, and they’re trying to sell themselves to other people. We tend to attract certain types of people based on our brand, and we can influence our own value to others by the way we brand ourselves.

There are plenty of ways to develop your brand, but the easiest might be by changing your circle of influence. This can develop your brand in three separate ways.

The first is based on how you interact with others. As you surround yourself with people who live the entrepreneurial lifestyle, you’ll begin to get associated with certain people, projects, ideas, etc. If people know you’re spending time with successful entrepreneurs, it will gradually change the way they view your personal brand.

The second is based on your subconscious development. The more time you spend around entrepreneurs, the more likely you are to pick up on the subtleties that make them unique. You will then tend to act similarly, and this will help fuel your entrepreneurial spirit. Others will see this, and it will be represented in the way you brand yourself.

The third is through content, an idea that I’ll explain more in-depth at a later time.

Your circle of influence.

Your circle of influence is going to be the best way to increase your social currency. The better the quality of your circle of influence, the more social currency you’ll command.

When you think about your circle of influence, who is in it and what you want it to look like, remember that there’s more to a circle of influence than other people. You’ll be responsible for creating a strong circle, and people will be hesitant to join your circle of influence if you aren’t holding yourself to high standards.

If you want to expand your circle, expand yourself. Don’t wait to be surrounded by people who will gradually improve you because of association. You have to start somewhere, and you need to do some of it on your own.

Think about what your current value is, and ask yourself this — would you want to keep you close? The entrepreneurial lifestyle doesn’t happen just out of the blue. You need to work hard to get anywhere, even if your circle of influence offers you the connections you need.

Build yourself as an individual. Think about what sets you apart from others, and begin to develop that. Of course, there are plenty of other steps to take after this, but this is the first step if you plan on getting anywhere as an entrepreneur.

The next step.

Social currency is an idea that doesn’t start and end with your circle of influence. Your social currency is going to be constantly changing, and it requires constant attention if you want to try and maximize your value.

At the same time, your circle of influence isn’t going to be the only way you can change your social currency. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to be much bigger than the people you know. Others will want to see what you’ve done, how you sell yourself and what you can do for them before they buy in.

A big factor that determines your social currency is the content you produce. Content can be just about anything, from a business you create to a blog post you write. The better the content you produce, the more people are going to respond to you. This, in my opinion, is the real key to growing your social currency.

Making sure you’re developing the right content to grow your social currency isn’t an easy task. Just like the path to entrepreneurship, it takes hard work, time and dedication. However, those who are able to commit themselves will expand their own value, and they’ll reap the benefits through the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

“Haitian Entrepreneurs Launch Emoji App”

fiercelybeautifulblog

Get ready to express yourself with Lingoji – the revolutionary new emoji app dedicated to cultural diversity. Bringing a shared cultural context to the digital world, Lingoji has opened an entirely new way to communicate to those close to you.

Lingoji combines lingo and emojis to create culturally-specific, sticker-sized icons. These can be used to convey humor, context, tone, and even complex expressions and emotions. Lingoji’s point of distinction is the engagement of local artists. The development team is integrating artists from cultures all across the globe. Here, they create culturally authentic art, specific to each culture.


Lingoji is the first of its kind. The app provides a wide array of emoji sets, each custom-tailored to a single country and culture. Users can easily choose the set that is the best fit for themselves, their friends, and their families. Available for just $1.99, each of these emojis sets can be easily accessed from the keyboard of a mobile device. Lingoji currently supports a total of four Caribbean countries: Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. From there, Lingoji will be expanding steadily into other countries.


These culture-based emoji catalogs provide a common language between individuals from distinct cultures and regions, thereby making it easier for them to communicate with their community. Widespread usage of these emojis will eventually highlight a variety of cultures around the world that are not currently represented.


As a Caribbean native, Lingoji’s co-founder Patrice Gervais developed a love of other cultures while working in New York for Colure Media. Patrice and his co-founders David-Georges Renaud, Gerald Brun, and William Belle have all worked to create a highly unique tool. This visual story-telling palette is designed for our diverse, modern cultures.

Lingoji is currently available at both the Google Play and the App Store. For questions or feedback, the Lingoji team can be reached at

 lingojiapps@gmail.com.

How To Increase Your Brand

 


Why Entrepreneurs Should Turn Their Expertise into a Book

By Assuanta Howard @astapubl

Entrepreneurs who have published books are able to extend their brand, become public speakers, gain more customers, and more. Being a published author will open many doors to you and grant you with opportunities to increase your income and add to your credibility.

Writing a book is an opportunity to reach out to an audience that never would have found you. It’s a chance for you to expand your audience and demonstrate your expertise, philosophy, and best practices. According to an article written by Laura Cross, “Writing and publishing a book related to your expertise will have a significant impact on your credibility and can substantially increase your bottom line. In a survey conducted for the Business Impact of Writing a Book:

  • 96% of authors reported that publishing a book positively influenced their businesses
  • 94% said it improved their brands
  • 95% generated more speaking engagements
  • 96% generated more clients
  • 94% generated more leads
  • 87% said it allowed them to charge higher fees
  • 87% reported that it allowed them to generate a more desirable client base
  • 76% said it allowed them to close more deals`1

What those figures reveal is that if you’re serious about your business, becoming a published author is no longer an option, it’s a necessity for market advantage.

There are many reasons why a business owner should write and publish a book and the top four are listed below:

  1. Enhances Your Visibility-Writing a book positions you as an expert within your industry.  Differentiating yourself in the marketplace is more important now than ever before. What makes you unique? Why should someone hire you over your competitor? Having a book to your credit helps you answer those questions.
  2. Be Seen as Credible– You will gain instant credibility and people will be more inclined to trust and believe you. Being an expert author helps you cement your credibility and deliver your expertise to a wider audience.
  3. Elevate yourselfabove your competition by being known as “the expert” people go to for the type of service you provide.
  4. Opens Doors-Establishing your brand creates a multitude of opportunities to increase your revenues and profitability as a business owner. You can command higher fees, receive high-level speaking invitations, attract high-value clients, and sell more products and services.

It has never been easier for an author to write and publish a book. Writing it is a challenge, but is should not be seen as a deterrent. A published book will provide you with an avalanche of unforeseeable opportunities to increase your brand, increase your credibility, and increase your profitability.

Assuanta Howard, CEO, Asta Publications has helped many authors write and publish their books. If you are an entrepreneur or business owner it’s time to turn your expertise into a book. Visit: http://www.astapublication.com or e-mail: ahoward@astapublidations.com to learn how.

Marketing

 


Social Media Marketing Success: 5 Techniques That Are Working NOW on Twitter
Nika Stewart  @NikaStewart  http://www.GhostTweeting.com

 

As entrepreneurs, we are all aware of the important role that social media plays in an effective marketing campaign. Why is it then, that so many business owners fail to maintain a consistent branded presence on at least one social media platform?

The most common reason is lack of know-how. If it is confusing or overwhelming, we ignore it. But social media still gives the best return on investment if used effectively.

The good news is… if you learn what is working, you can model it, and achieve success.

So let’s start with ONE platform: Twitter. If your feed isn’t oozing with engagement, if you aren’t flooded with folks re-tweeting your genius, if you aren’t getting calls from interested followers for more information on your products and services, you simply need to make a few changes. Here is what is working on Twitter right now to get you more engagement, more followers, more retweets, and more ideal leads.

Give to get

What is better than seeing that someone has tweeted an awesome review or a glowing recommendation of your business? We all love it, and there’s no doubt that we notice the person who tweeted that delicious post.

Unsolicited recommendations in the form of endorsing others’ products, sites, or services are a way to get noticed by authors, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and even popular influencers. Networking goes both ways: you’ve got to give to get, so start recognizing others’ genius and you’ll be sure to get some recognition of your own.

“The best way to get attention on Twitter is to GIVE attention on Twitter.”

Engagement: The king of the castle

Build it and… they probably won’t come. Posting is passive; Engagement is active.  You must be active to get the results you want from Twitter: more followers, clicks to your website, endorsements, increased visibility, expert status.

More than ever, it’s about interacting with your followers, so take the time to comment, retweet, participate in Twitter chats, answer questions, and acknowledge your followers.

Consistency

Which Twitter accounts have the most followers and the most engagement? The ones who post every day. You can’t expect great Twitter results by posting sporadically. Be consistent with your tweeting, and you’ll see growth very quickly.

(Don’t have the time to devote every day to researching, creating, and posting to Twitter? Here is the no-brainer solution:www.ghosttweeting.com/97 )

Humor

If engagement is king of the castle, humor is the court jester. To stand out from the noise – and let’s face it, you do need to stand out on Twitter in order to get results – you need to publish shareable, funny content that is on brand. Humor is a free way to move your platform forward at breakneck speeds. How often do you see something hilarious in the form of a joke, meme, photo, or video and want to share it with a friend, coworker or spouse? Yes, funny posts get attention! We are more apt to follow accounts with a sense of humor in order to break up the monotony of endless streams of blather.

Be real

Okay, we know engagement is king and humor is the court jester, but who is queen of this castle anyway? YOU. Whatever platform you are on, audiences demand authenticity. You are a real person with a family, pets, kids, and a growing pile of dirty laundry. You love a good Sauvingon Blanc and you have a weekend cycling hobby. Sometimes life is not easy; sometimes it’s the best thing since Kylie Jenner released her Lip Kits. So let us know about it. Even when it comes to business posts, we want to see the human side of you. YOU need to come through loud and clear in every tweet.

Twitter is still getting massive results for businesses, and you will enjoy the benefits if you use the techniques that are working.

How to Evaluate Your Business

 


Business Assessment

Your business provides you and your employees with the opportunity to leverage your skills and training, serve a desired target market that is in want and need of your product/service and provides opportunity for financial growth.  The health of your business is critical to all those involved.

When was the last time you took your business into the doctor for a business diagnostic checkup?  If the answer is “not recently” or “never”, then your business is overdue.

Javis Brunson Business Consultants assist business owners who strive to build independent, sustainable, profitable, and thriving businesses.  To obtain this level of success in your business, it’s important that you fully understand the health of your business.

If you are ready to grow your business, then let us conduct a business diagnostic assessment for your company today.

Our business assessment and debrief provides insight into eight areas of your business:

  1. Products & Services
  2. Marketing
  3. Sales
  4. Customer Service
  5. Systems & Automation
  6. Business Analytics
  7. Leadership, Policies & Procedures
  8. Organizational Support

The benefit of the assessment debrief is to evaluate your business to determine its health, communicate findings, recommendations and determine the ACTION steps needed to move your business forward.

Following the debrief you can work independently or with a Javis Brunson Consultants advisor.

 

PRICING

Business assessment, 2 hour debrief meeting and a 30 minute follow-up meeting with a Javis Brunson Consultants advisor will cost $825.

Email (jay@javisbrunsonconsultants.com) to schedule a 15-minute introductory phone conversation to discuss how we can help you move your business forward.

Path To Success

Persistence is a sure path to success with quality activities. Never, ever, ever, give up.” – Kekich Credo #75

The Quickest Way to Success

By Ryan Holiday

On my first day of my first job as a lowly assistant in Hollywood, someone gave me some advice that would shape the course of my entire career. They said: “Just make your boss look good.”

Now in Hollywood, a world of big egos obsessed with getting credit, there is really no other way for someone just starting out to survive. But it turns out that across industries and across history, aspiring young men and women have used this same approach to get ahead.

They realized that the best way to advance their own interests was to do something simple but counterintuitive: provide opportunities for other people. Not only because it makes their boss look good, but because it creates its own opportunities for the pupil to learn and explore.

For instance, many people know that as a young man Benjamin Franklin published numerous letters written under fake names like Silence Dogwood. What they don’t know is that Franklin wrote those letters, sub­mitted them by sliding them under the print­shop door, and received absolutely no credit for them until much later in his life. In fact, it was his brother, the owner, who profited from their immense popularity, regularly running them on the front page of his newspaper. Franklin was playing the long game, though — learning how public opinion worked, generating awareness of what he believed in, crafting his style and tone and wit. It was a strategy he used time and again over his career — once even publishing in his compet­itor’s paper in order to undermine a third competitor — for Franklin saw the constant benefit in making other people look good and letting them take credit for his ideas.

One must master their ego to be able to completely ignore getting credit, getting ahead, even throwing out what your job is supposed to be on paper. It takes a special type of humility to focus your energy on finding, presenting, and facilitating opportunities that help other people succeed.

But this is essential.

Bill Belichick, the now four-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the New England Patriots, made his way up the ranks of the NFL by loving and mastering how to do the one thing that coaches hated at the time: analyzing film.

His first job in professional football for the Baltimore Colts was one he volunteered to take without pay — and his insights, which provided ammunition and critical strategies for the game, were attributed exclusively to the other public-facing coaches.  “He was like a sponge, tak­ing it all in, listening to everything,” one coach said. “You gave him an assignment and he disappeared into a room and you didn’t see him again until it was done, and then he wanted to do more,” said another.

*

****************************** *****************

This gave him two things: first, a role in the organization that allowed him to thrive and carve out space for himself, two, an understanding of the game that today cannot be matched. And today, Beli­chick has no problem getting paid.

A few years ago there was some controversy because Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, was looking for an unpaid intern. How dare she?! bloggers shouted and yelled. She can afford to pay! Of course, she could. But can you afford to pass on that opportunity?

The attitude of the angry, unappreciated genius—that gets us nowhere. Nowhere but living back at home with our parents because “we’re overqualified” for an entry-level position. Nowhere but a reputation for being a person who doesn’t work well with others, who is entitled and obnoxious.

Meanwhile, the apprenticeship model is responsible for some of the greatest art in the history of the world—everyone from Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci to Benjamin Franklin has been forced to navigate such a system. The greatest networkers in the world practice their art by delivering extraordinary amounts of value to everyone they meet.

It’s because they realize what most people’s ego’s prevent them from seeing: that by serving and helping others now, you’re really helping yourself.

I’ve seen this in my own life. For many years, I was a research assistant and apprentice for the author Robert Greene, creator of the 48 Laws of Power. My job was to contribute little bits and pieces to his books that 99% of the public would have no idea I was responsible for. But I loved it. I did it for years.

Working in that system, also taught me the fatal consequences of ego. One slip up, one false belief that you were indispensable to the project, and the door would be shut on you. Important people don’t have time for that. But the quieter and more helpful I could be? The more opportunities I had to contribute. The more I learned. The more trust I was given.

Slowly I developed my own abilities and was able to pursue my own career. I’m writing this article (and now my own books) because of it.

There is an old saying, “Say little, do much.” What we really ought to do is update and apply a version of that to our early approach. Be lesser, do more. Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you. The cumu­lative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.

That’s what this strategy is about — helping yourself by helping others. Making a concerted effort to trade your short­ term gratification for a longer­term payoff. Whereas everyone else wants to get credit and be “respected,” you can forget credit. You can forget it so hard that you’re glad when others get it instead of you — that was your aim, after all. Consider it all an investment.

This approach is here for you at anytime. There is no expiration date on it either. It’s one of the few that age does not limit — on either side, young or old. You can start at any time — before you have a job, before you’re hired and while you’re doing something else, or if you’re starting something new or find yourself inside an organization with­out strong allies or support. You may even find that there’s no reason to ever stop doing it, even once you’ve graduated to heading your own projects. Let it become natural and permanent — always, always find opportunities for other people.

Editor’s Note: This piece is adapted from the book Ego is the Enemy, published by Penguin/Portfolio.

Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Ego Is The Enemy and three other books. His monthly reading recommendations which go out to 50,000+ subscribers are found here.

How To Get A Mentor

 


Need a Powerful Mentor? Here’s How You Get One

By Minda Zetlin @MindaZetlin

 

“I would be a success if only I had the right connections.” I’ve heard this complaint over and over. It’s as self-defeating as saying, “I could have had a great business, only I didn’t have any customers.” In both cases, the answer is the same: Go out and get some!

There’s a lot of great advice about how to do just that in Susan Shapiro’s Only as Good as Your Word, a book devoted entirely to mentorship. Shapiro is a poet and memoirist so her mentors are literary types. But her advice about how to make the connections that matter apply just as well to anyone in any career, and especially to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Wish you could enlist the kind of powerful mentors who can help you reach your loftiest goals? You can. Here’s how:

  1. Go where the action is.

Shapiro started life in Michigan, but as soon as she was able, she relocated to New York City, the center of the publishing world. That’s where she met nearly all the mentors who helped her along the way. Admittedly, New York is expensive and Silicon Valley is worse. And even if it were affordable, it might not be feasible for you to move there.

 

But even if you can’t or don’t want to relocate, look for opportunities to visit the places and events where potential mentors might be. Attend a conference–always a great way to meet all kinds of people–or plan a pleasure trip to a hot location and then ask for a quick meeting while you “happen to be” in town.

  1. Don’t act entitled.

“Don’t assume somebody will assist you out of benevolence or awe, or because you’re so incredibly cool and special,” Shapiro advises. Instead, as she points out, keep in mind that successful people are almost always incredibly busy. Chances are they won’t have time to bother with you unless you make them really like you. So first and foremost, be likable.

  1. Look for personal connections.

Yes, Warren Buffett would probably be a great mentor to have in your corner. But unless you have a personal connection, sending a blind email or letter to Buffett is unlikely to get you very far.

 

The mentors who are likeliest to help you the most are those that have some personal reason to wish you success. That might be because you have friends or colleagues in common, went to the same schools, come from similar backgrounds or have some other connection. One of Susan Shapiro’s mentors was the late poet Harvey Shapiro–they weren’t related, but she used their shared last name to create a bond.

When you reach out to someone based on a personal connection, make sure you put that information right up front–ideally in the subject line of your email. Start by talking about yourself and your wonderful project and the recipient may not read down to the paragraph about how you were referred by a good friend.

  1. Do a little research.

Before you ask someone for help, learn what you can about him or her. If you can refer to a pet project, book, blog post, or presentation, you’ll start out on your prospective mentor’s good side. A few minutes of searching and perusing social media may tell you that your target is especially interested in saving the rain forest, or has backed a new product, or plays the banjo. Knowing these things may help you connect as a person, and not just someone looking for a favor. And it will show that you’re serious enough to put in some time and effort.

  1. Give before you ask.

Shapiro recalls how an acquaintance called her. She had a new book out and he began by apologizing for having missed her several readings and book party. Then he proceeded to ask her for a valuable contact. She apologized herself and said she was too busy to help him just then. “He might have saved the day by simply saying, ‘I just ordered your book from Amazon. Can’t wait to read it,'” she adds.

If you’re asking advice, introductions, feedback about your business idea, investment or anything else, you should always be looking for ways to give as well. Shapiro advises showing up to events–preferably with friends–bringing gifts, sending congratulations when warranted, and treating for drinks and meals. Donating to your prospective mentor’s favorite charity is always a good idea as well.

  1. Respect your prospective mentor’s time.

“I would love it if you would check out my new app.” I get this kind of email all the time. Even more often, I get a request for an introductory conversation with some executive or other. In each case, it seems like a small and completely reasonable request for my time. In the aggregate, it’s impossible to say yes to everyone, so I generally say no.

This is one reason why meeting prospective mentors at a conference or other event is a great idea–they’re already there so you’re not asking for an extra investment of time. If you can’t do this, then do everything you can to use your target’s time with maximum efficiency. Mention any personal connection right up front, along with full information about your project and the help you’re seeking. If you leave a phone message (which I would never recommend as a first point of contact), include your email address and mobile number for texting. If you send an email, include your phone number in case the recipient would prefer to call.

  1. Flattery will get you everywhere.

Saying how much you liked someone’s book, blog post, or video interview will always get you more attention than if you just ask for a favor. Even from me–though it’s an old PR trick that I’ve long ago recognized to begin a pitch by saying you liked one of my stories, I always do open those emails whereas I don’t open most others. As Shapiro says, “Though I’d usually ignore a total stranger’s request…I answer nice fan letters from anybody who appears sane.”

  1. Start with an easy request.

Don’t make the mistake of asking your prospective mentor to invest/introduce you to a bigwig contact/sit on your advisory board when you first make contact. You want your initial request to be something very easy to say yes to. “Can I send you a little information about my project?” is usually a fairly safe place to start.

  1. Share only relevant information about yourself.

Don’t make the fatal mistake of going on and on about how wonderful you and/or your project are. “One executive I know says if the first lines of the cover letter contain three ‘I’s in a row, the answer is already no,” Shapiro notes.

Yes, you must blow your own horn so that your target understands why spending time on you would be worthwhile. But only include information that’s likely to really matter to him or her. Y Combinator invested in your startup? Definitely mention that. You graduated Phi Beta Kappa? Unless contacting an academic, keep that to yourself.

  1. Don’t brag about your failures.

It’s surprising how many people begin their pitches by saying how many times they’ve been rejected, Shapiro says. Yes, it denotes tenacity which is a good thing. But if you tell people you’ve been rejected 50 times, they will inevitably wonder why that is. Instead, reframe your failures as near misses, or look for the small successes within them. (Maybe your product failed but you did a good job of getting it to market quickly, for instance.)

  1. Look for chances to return the favor.

Any time someone mentors you or does you a favor, keep your eyes open for chances to give back. This might mean promoting product on your blog, promoting their next event on your social media, or even investing in a pet project of theirs.

Another way to pay back is to pay forward–by becoming a valued mentor yourself. No matter who you are, there are people who could benefit from your advice and assistance, whether newcomers to your industry, interns, entry-level employees, or students. So extend yourself because it’s good karma. It’s also unfair to expect to receive if you aren’t willing to give.