Do You Really Need a Mentor? By Vena Jones-Cox
If you’ve been involved in any of the major national real estate education mills, even at the lowest “free workshop” level, you’ve been exposed to the idea that every real estate investor needs a mentor, or they’re doomed to complete failure and will probably live out the balance of their short, unhappy lives living in the street in someplace like Fargo.
This idea of wanting a “mentor” has so much traction that the most common question new members of a real estate association have is, “How do I get a mentor?”.
The message that you need/must have/will fail explosively without a mentor is, of course, engineered to make it impossible for you to refuse to mortgage your house/cash in your IRA/raid your kids’ college funds to pay the 5- to 6-figure sum necessary to engage one.
And the truth is, you probably aren’t ready for a real mentor.
Mentors are NOT people who teach you how to do real estate. You learn how to do real estate by reading books, getting homestudy courses, going to workshops—you know, getting schooling.
Mentors are also not people who exist for the purpose of answering your questions as you think to ask them. That’s COACHES, and on-demand coaching is (or at least should be) a lot cheaper than mentoring.
Mentors are people who are WAY out ahead of you in their business building and wealth creation. Not 10 deals out, not 5 years out, but DECADES of experience out. And they don’t just answer your questions; they really get into your life and understand the whole picture of what’s going on with you.
Here’s an example: I met with one of my mentoring students last night for sushi. He wanted to talk about how to transition out of his job in the next 2 years, and to have enough passive income to live on the beach in 5. But before I even got down to drawing him a picture of how that would have to work, I asked him these questions:
“You’ve always been pretty happy with your job. What’s changed, and is it going to stay changed, or is this a wild hare/hair that you’ll forget about in a month?” [note: I don’t actually know whether that saying refers to a rabbit or a protein filament that grows from follicles in the dermis, and Google is no help, but it’s one of my favorite things to say, if not spell].
“I know you’ve been working with Investor A for 6 months; how is that going and is it part of your retirement plan, or are we looking at something else? Is that partnership solid?”
“You’re not great at controlling your own time when you don’t have a job; how are you going to deal with that when you’re 100% on your own?”
See, my job as a MENTOR is to interact with, observe, and challenge people at a much deeper level than if I’m just a COACH. That’s why mentoring programs are so much more expensive than coaching programs: a good mentor deals with the WHOLE you, not just the real estate part of you.
And I bet that’s not what you’re actually looking for (although if you are, you can apply for my FastTrack program and maybe get it): I bet what you want is someone to use as a sounding board for deals, questions, strategies and so on.
Here are 5 signs that you are 100% not ready for a mentor and, if anything, should invest in an inexpensive, pay-as-you-go coaching program (Like my Inner Circle Club, for instance):
- You don’t fully grasp the basics of real estate. If you can’t, all by your little lonesome, find the value of just about any property; interview sellers; figure out what to offer on a property; and understand at least the skeletal outline of your exit strategy, you don’t need a mentor or even a coach: you need an education. The cheap, effective way to get THAT is to invest in a quality home study system. No one, and I do mean no one, can teach you one on one how to do a whole strategy at a price you’d want to pay—nor should they have to. That education is out there. Go get it.
- You’re really just kicking the tires. Mentoring is for people who are pretty darn sure that they want to make real estate investing a BIG part of their future. If you aren’t sure whether you’re really committed to doing more than a deal here and there, you need coaching, not mentoring. A mentor is going to push you to go big or go home. You’ll be wasting your time (and money) and theirs if you decide not to do that.
- You don’t like people all up in your beeswax. I very often tell mentoring clients that their business setup or partnership or strategy or marketing plan is completely wrong and doomed to fail, and I ALWAYS turn out to be right because, you know, 25 years’ experience. Mostly, they kind of already knew that and appreciate hearing it from a 3rd party, but occasionally, one gets kind of impatient with me and tells me that they didn’t ask my opinion on that, they want my help on the other thing that they actually asked about. Others don’t like it when I hold them to their commitment to mail 400 postcards a week or whatever. If it bugs you to take unasked-for advice, don’t get a mentor. Seriously. You’re just going to frustrate them. I’d NEVER ask a coaching student the questions I asked my mentoring client over raw fish; but your business IS my business if you’ve paid me a bunch of money to get mentored.
- You can’t afford mentoring. Look, I get that most people are going to have to put the 5- to 6-figure price tag of mentoring on a credit card and pay it off over time. But please, I beg you, do NOT mortgage your house, or cash in your IRA early, or do anything else that’s likely to have a long-term negative impact on your family’s financial future to get mentored. If you can’t pretty easily make the payments on your mentoring program, get the basic education first, then get coached through a few deals, then use your newfound income stream to pay for your mentoring. Don’t fall prey to the pitch that if you spend that much money, you’ll basically HAVE to succeed. It’s not true.
- You’re not going to do the work. What’s super-sad? People who apply for my FastTrack program and report that they’ve already spent tens of thousands on other mentoring programs…and still never made a deal.
Yes, I get it. there are scams out there where you pay for mentoring and get nothing. But come on…3 times? That tells me that you don’t follow instructions, or have some basic limiting belief that’s holding you back, or something (and it will keep you out of MY mentoring program, because if 3 other people couldn’t help you, I probably won’t be able to, either).
No amount of expensive mentoring will help you succeed if you won’t or can’t do what you need to do to make deals.
If that’s you, you don’t want or need mentoring. You want coaching.
There is NO QUESTION that the ability to get questions (competently, correctly) answered when a deal is on the line is a HUGE leg up for every investor. It was one of my secret weapons when I got started. But THAT’S relatively cheap (Like under $500 to start and under $40 a month in my Inner Circle Club), and it’s low-commitment.
Have some sense about where you are in your real estate education and what you really need to help you right now. Don’t jump to mentoring before you need it.