The Scoop @ MSCO

None of My Mentors Took The SATs

1193228_35828531I 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:

  • No work is ever demeaning. It is a privilege and if you have your head screwed on right, it is a launch pad.
  • Doing your work well is completely unacceptable. You cannot stop raising the bar until you are the best.
  • Never trust anyone who asks you to trust them.
  • Don’t accept the standard way of doing anything. You weren’t put on this planet to be “standard.”
  • When you feel too exhausted to work, take a shower and get back at it. Once you re-engage, the fatigue will dissipate and will be replaced by a new round of energy and drive. This is when your greatest breakthroughs are likely to occur.
  • Every time you make a dollar, put 50 cents in the bank. The money no one sees is the most valuable money that you have.

Mentors don’t hand out diplomas. They know wars aren’t won with parchment.

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