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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Lesson Nugget: You must search out a mentor in the field in which you want to be successful.
  • Lesson Nugget: A mentor will be brutally honest with you because they want to see you improve and believe that you can handle the candor.

coursera for purpose and business mentors

-Now, have you had abusiness mentor in your life?

-Oh, I've had several business mentors.

-Can you give me an example of maybe not necessarily the person, unless you feel comfortable sharing their name, but give me an example of the kind of impact a mentor has had on your life.

-I could give so many examples, but I'm thinking right now of a guy. His name was Dr. Keppra Newra Kim. I met him in 1997 at the University of Oklahoma. He was a professor of Intro to African American Studies. He just passed away about a year ago.

He was a big guy. He was 6' 5", about 300 pounds


-And he had a huge voice and--

-TD Jakes style.

-He was one of those guys-- you know, a lot of times you meet big people. They all other life, they've been taught not to be intimidating, so they try to be nice and talk low. That was not him, and he had this crazy haircut, where he had like-- I've never seen it before-- he had locks, but he had it cut close on the size.

-Was this like Al Sharpton?

-No, it wasn't like Al Sharpton, like dreadlocks down the middle, but cut close on the side.

-Really, that's beautiful.

-Very intimidating guy. Let me tell you, this guy and his class, and I thought I was pretty hot stuff, right? I thought I was ready to do some stuff, and I raise my and one day, and he called on me, and I said what I wanted to ask him whatever. And I was feeling good about it, and he said, and? And I was like, what do you mean "and?" He said, what does that mean? Because I was just regurgitating some information, thinking I was going to impress him.

He said, well, what does that mean Mr. Sullivan? I didn't have an answer to that. He embarrassed me. Then, the next last period, when we had an assignment, I get it back and it looked like somebody had bled on it. He just had marked it UP. I got a zero on it, too. I was-- can I say pissed?

-You can say pissed.

-I was [BEEP]. I was [BEEP], and I went to him, and I said, now, why are you being so hard on me? He said I'm being hard on you because I see potential, but you're not living up to it.


-And that guy mentored me, worked with me. My writing skills were horrendous. My diction was horrendous. He worked with me and work with me and worked with me, and just became one of my best friends in life.

-Now, I'm going to say this because I think it's absolutely critical for anybody. Every entrepreneur, we either learn from mistakes or mentors. Do you agree with that?


-And so I have found that every mentor I've ever had in my life, to highlight that, they've made me mad. I remember sitting down with one mentor of mine. I used to be, and I'm ashamed to say, but I used to suggest for brides and grooms-- I booked weddings. We had a wedding entertainment service, and I would suggest that the couples would meet me for lunch, and I was making them over there at McDonald's. Nothing wrong against the golden arches, but I mean, that was my suggested spot for affordable meal meeting was McDonald's.

And I remember looking at him, and he said, you can't dress like that. you are at the DJ, which was questionable enough, hiring you for a wedding, and then you're 20. You look young. You've got double hoop earrings. What are you wearing, and why are you going to McDonald's?

And I said, well, sir, I would like to go McDonald's, but I've got to close some deals first before I could have enough money to start going up street to Panera, which, at the time, was Saint Louis Bread-- the $6 salad instead of the $0.99. And he says, you'll never have any money. Just go over there, buy a coffee, offer to buy them a coffee. Just I'm telling you, and it hurt. It was painful.

I kind of went home and I was like, well, he doesn't know what he's talking about. And then I realized, well, he's a bestselling author and I'm not. His life was made into a movie and man hasn't. Well, I'll do it. And that's kind of how it feels like a lot. So I think that's something that we all-- if you have a good mentor, they're going to kind of irritate you.

-Absolutely, I can remember another mentor of mine Mr. Carl Williams, who was my ninth grade teacher. He was the first African American male teacher that I had growing up, and I hated him. Let me tell you why; because he wouldn't allow you to write with anything but a black pen. You had to use a certain margin paper. He was just the worst. But that man became, and in he's still, a very good friend of mine because he challenged you. He made you better, and he pushed you, and that's what you want from a mentor.

-Now, let me ask you this here; if I'm somebody right now watching this, and I've never had a mentor, or maybe I'm a student, but I wasn't ready, so the teacher never appeared because I wasn't ready, and I'm kind of pushing the teachers off. If I'm looking for a mentor right now, where would you suggest that I would go to find on outside of Thrive? Because we've created Thrive to be that for you, that virtual mentor. But where would you suggest I would go to find a mentor?

-If you are trying to be in the medical profession, contact a medical association in your area. If you're trying to be a lawyer, go to the local bar. If you're trying to be an architect, go the architectural organizations. Whatever you're trying to do, go to where those individuals are. And like you say, you don't want to go there dressed inappropriately.

I tell my students, and I tell my clients also, but really my students, I say, you've got to understand that life is about relationships, and also life is about uniform. You show up to play the game, and you show up in a proper uniform. And I explained to them, when you go to play basketball, you don't show up in a helmet. Why? And they say, because that's for football.

So if you're going to show up, and you want a mentor, if you want DJs to mentor you, there's no reason for you have to show up in a three-piece tuxedo because DJs don't walk around in them, for that matter. And vice versa, if you want to go get mentored by a pediatrician, don't show up there with a basketball uniform.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Dress for Success: www.Tie-A-Tie.net is a great place to learn basic tie knots with ease, like the Pratt, Windsor, and Half-Windsor knots.
  • Ask Yourself: What is my budget for clothing? You don't have to buy a $1000 suit to look professional.
  • Lesson Nugget: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
  • Lesson Nugget: Multitasking is the fastest way to destroy your focus.

-Do you-- I heard it said one time, you want to dress the way you want to be addressed.


-Now you are very intentional about your appearance.


-Your photos, impeccable. The style that you put on your website. What's your website, by the way, for anybody watching this?

-SolomonSimmons.com. www.SolomonSimmonscom.

-Every time I show people your press kit, people are like, man that guy's sharp. So what would be some tips you would suggest for anybody who's looking to dress for success? Maybe never done it before.

-Absolutely, man. One of the make things I tell young people is Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshall's could be your best bet. You can go and find-- you can go buy you about four or five white shirts. You can get them pretty inexpensive, 15, 20 bucks. Get you solid color ties. Don't get a bunch of stuff going on, especially if you're challenged like I was when I first started trying to dress nice. And make it easy. Like I say, I try to keep this uniform look. Because I don't want to think about it. I just want to know it matches. I know it looks good. And that's one less thing I can cross off my to do list. I'm not getting up in the morning, trying to really mix and match. You think about a lot of cultures around the world, successful cultures and successful people. They're not as into wearing something different or trying to do all these different things every day. Because that's really secondary to what you want to do. You want to present yourself in a professional manner, clean, but don't get too caught up in it.

-OK. Now, there's one book, it's called, "Dress for Success," that Arthur Greeno, one of the Thrive mentors, recommends. Arthur's the owner of a Chick-fil-A, he's a successful guy in town. Is there any sort of reference you say, hey, go get yourself a GQ? Would you recommend go getting yourself-- I mean, what would you recommend you do so you have-- because I know, the word gigline meant nothing to me. The idea of a tie-- I didn't know how to tie one. Is there any place you recommend? Or do you just kind of find a mentor that maybe has dressed sharp and kind of humble yourself and ask them to teach you?

-I just think in today's technology, in today's world, where you have Google, you have the internet, whatever you see yourself trying to do, put in that and dress the way those people who are in that field, who are the most successful in that field, dressed in some way in that manner. You might want to have your personal flare. I like to keep this pocket square. That's what I like to do. But maybe you don't want a pocket square, because you don't like the way it's poofing out. But find a way to say you're within the--

-That changes my whole impression of you. I don't even know you anymore without a pocket square. I get concerned there. I'm getting worried. I don't know if you guys want to film me getting worried. I don't even know this guy.

-Who are you?!

-Now I want to ask you this. I want to be serious. If I am dressing for success--

-Dress the way you want to be addressed, like you said. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

-What if I'm motivated? What if I'm dressed up nice? Why are some people more successful than others? Why is it that some people never get there? It seems like they're in that rut. And some people, year by year, just get a little bit farther ahead. What's that all about?

-Well, I don't know if I have the absolute answer on that, but I think part of it is organization, being organized, as we're talking about here, having a vision of where you want to go, and not making those false steps. Because one false step can really throw you off. You can lose a lot of money. You can lose a lot of opportunity. I think you said something earlier that some people have to be at the right place at the right time, but then you have to capitalize on it. You hear all the time people say that luck is where preparation meets opportunity. Are you really prepared for what you're trying to do? As I'm speaking here, one thing that keeps coming to my mind, though-- and it's something that, again, I struggle with-- focus.


-On the primary goal. You got to focus on a primary goal. I'm a person who is interested-- I'm a renaissance type person. I want to know and get in a lot of stuff. It's a challenge for me. It's challenging for me to focus.

-But you recognize that's something we have to do?

-That's a weakness of mine. But that's something that-- if you look at anybody that's great, anybody that's made it-- I mean, like you said, you started a DJing business. People laugh at that, right?


-In fact, that commercial they have on TV right now, where the guy's dressed up and he's playing like he's a financial guru, but in fact he's a DJ. And it's like this big joke.


-But you work on that DJing.


-You were dealing with how to take it and scale it up, because you were focused on building that business. And now it allows you to do everything you're doing now. And that's what I think a lot of us lacks. Particularly in today's society, when there's so many distractions. There's text messages, emails, there's Facebook, there's Twitter it's phone calls.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Lesson Nugget: Without the balance of spirit, mind, body, relationships, and finances you will suffer.
  • Notable Quotable: "...You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer..."- Abraham Lincoln (16th President of the United States)


-This is something that I do. And maybe we'll get your-- this is maybe a business--

-Can I stand up?

-Yeah, sure.


-This kind of a business ethics question here for you. But all these people reach out to you. And sometimes you have to say no.


-And I had a very hard time with that. And even, like, I'm talking as early as before you showed up.


-About 5:30, I'm talking to my beautiful wife-- who's a beautiful lady-- and she's a wonderful mom. And we have five kids.


-Thank you so much. And I have a lot-- this month we booked four speaking events. Well, to quote my main man Warren Buffett, if you add something into the cup, you gotta take something out of the cup.


CLAY CLARK: Otherwise, it's going to overflow.


-So my wife always ask that question, what comes out? And that's hard. Because I look around and I say, well, I don't want to cut out time with my kids. And I want to not work out. And I don't want to-- and so I end up doing all of these things.

And what I do-- this is where I make my mistake. I won't drop the ball on most of these areas. But I'll start sleeping two hours every night-- two hours, two hours, two hours, two hours, two hours. And then the body starts to suffer. And that's how I get out of balance. I know some people looking at this might say, man, body's not an issue for me. But maybe I'm spiritually out of whack or financially out of whack. What would you say to somebody who's struggling with that focus? Because I know it's a challenge for you.


-What would you say to somebody who's just get distracted? Is it kind of just focus until you have success so you can do other things?

-Right. You know, I'll just be really honest with you, Clay. Saying no and just trying to figure that out has been probably the most difficult thing. And I believe I will be further along if I really had to answer to that. And I think it's really just feeling the pain.

So many times, when you are an entrepreneur, and you've got that energy, and you can sleep just two hours, you can take that shot and keep going. Like, when I had Bell's Palsy, and it is shut me down, it realigned--

-See, I lost vision in my eye, and that's what happened to me. Like, they were saying it was constricted blood vessels. And it was literally causing blindness that I've never recovered from. I still have horrible vision. And then when my son was born blind, and I couldn't go to the doctor's appointment because I was overbooked, that's my challenge. We all have that, something.

-Right. I mean, saying no, I'm glad you bought that up. Because that was-- I tell you, right now, today, as we speak, I'm on a couple boards, nonprofits, and I care a lot about them. But I really should have let them go. And I really should let them go. And it comes back saying, well, they need you. But we need to do those things. Because if these things are not in line, spirit, mind, body, relationship, and finances, nothing else is going to matter. Everything is going to suffer. So prayer is something that I've always asked in God to help me. Keep me focused, God. You know what my true vision is and what I want my true mission to be.

-I met a lady years ago-- this was years ago on a planet far, far away.


-She, though, was a wonderful lady. And she was struggling financially. And I remember when I talked to her, the Abraham Lincoln quote was what set her free. But I said, hey, you're volunteering at PTA? She said, yes. I said, you're volunteering at the church? Yes. You're volunteering at the homeless shelter? Yeah. She says, I was once abused, so I want to help these women. And I said so, you're also helping your daughter. You're picking up your daughter at-- she went to visit her daughter in prison. You're visiting your daughter in prison. You're doing all these things. But Abraham Lincoln says the key to helping the poor is to not be poor.


-And I think it's a cultural phenomenon that if we come from poverty-- I say we, we come from poverty-- one of the things is we have a poverty mentality, sometimes where we want to help and everybody else and not ourselves. And so the way that it was told to me-- and I hope I'm helping somebody. But I'm just going to show you.

The way it was taught to me was that if you've got this ice cream here, you can stack all the scoops up here. But the volunteerism sometimes has to be that cherry on the top. Because otherwise, if you put the cherry on the bottom it gets all squished. And so you kind of pick that one.

And that's why I so greatly admire guys like the music artist, Mike Posner we were talking about. He's donating-- for every album he sells he gives a meal to a family in need. Well, to me that's great. Because it means that, one, he's not in need.

He's actually providing for his own mom and his own family. But then he's donating. And I love that idea. I love companies like Toms Shoes. They focus, and then they can give. And I just-- gosh, it's a challenge.


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