Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Even Elon Musk Uses A Mentor

Even Elon Musk uses a mentor. Just like all the top CEO's, he also has a sounding board for ideas.

Elon Musk uses mentors by surround himself with very bright people like Larry Page. They were friends even before Larry Page found venture funding for Google. Every good CEO surrounds himself with people who give feedback, positive and negative. A mentor or contemporary is in the unique position to give negative feedback without being fired. This is why you'll also see many CEO's with a mentor of some kind. A mentor can be a single person, a business peer group or a group of friends that are in similar positions. Any or all will do. This is why even Elon Musk uses mentors. Should you as well?

Running a major business, I found that there are few people within the company that are willing to voice their true opinion to the CEO. Many are afraid that any conflict will ultimately result in losing their job. But only when you can speak freely do you do justice to yourself and the company. Only then are you truly contributing. This is why every CEO need a mentor outside of the business.

A CEO needs a sounding board for ideas, concepts and thoughts. Companies are in constant flux, the market is always changing and the challenges facing a company vary all the time. I was a part of the Cincinnati Executive Forum and I found the meetings invaluable. The illustrious Jim Johnson (Wiseco, Garrett) headed up the meetings and it never failed but I always left the meetings knowing better where to lead the company I ran. As a part of this group, there was an owner of one of the largest architectural firms in the US. When 2008 came along, he already saw the writing on the wall. He shared his thoughts of what was to come and I took action based on his outlook. He had just laid off 80% of his employees as the design business had dried up completely. The next week, I laid off 250+ people.

This was far more than I had planned but I had gotten a glimpse of just how bad the recession could get. Thank goodness for being a part of this executive group and having them as a sounding board for my business plans.

Without it, the company I ran would have surely gone under. By taking drastic action early, we had the time to get ready for the recession and we were ahead of the curve financially. Every CEO needs a mentor or a person acting as a sounding board. We don't know it all. Do you have the right people around you that challenge you?

Can they challenge you without repercussions? Do they share their thoughts without ulterior motives? If you don't have this, look around you for people who can fulfill this function for you. You're not asking for a favor, giving advice is just as much fun as getting it. Especially if it helps your business thrive! Success is addictive in any form.

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