I was taught about business, about life, from street men and women who had little to show in the form of classic education, awards or designations. Not only did they lack MBAs (the truth is few in the world are truly “masters” of business). Some never finished high school and I’m not even sure they knew what the SATs are.
But they had something far better: wisdom, insight, skepticism and perhaps what is most valuable of all: courage in the face of adversity.
My mentors were small business owners. A hardscrabble collection of warriors who sold shoes, food, household appliances and the like. There were no boards of directors or banking partners in their lives. In fact, there were no partners at all. It was just them, the American dream and the guts and the raw will to achieve it. What they taught me is as invaluable today as it was then:
Mentors don’t hand out diplomas. They know wars aren’t won with parchment.