Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to info@alessandra.com!

Find a mentor who can be your role model and your friend!

A mentor is someone you admire and under whom you can study. Throughout history, the mentor-protégé relationship has proven quite fruitful. Socrates was one of the early mentors. Plato and Aristotle studied under him and later emerged as great philosophers in their own right. I was fortunate enough to have several mentors - each for a different purpose.

* Dr. David Schwartz, author of The Magic of Thinking Big, was my doctoral dissertation chairman and was the impetus and the motivation to finish my PhD in Marketing and to enter the world of public speaking as a profession.

* Bill Gove, the first president of the National Speakers Association, mentored me to speak from my own style - a NYC Italian - rather than a stiffer, more professorial style. The results were dramatic and my speaking career and success moved into hyper-speed.

* Jim Cathcart, my close friend, confidante, and former business partner, taught me how to structure and prepare for speeches. His unsurpassed business ethics served as my guiding light in my business dealings.

- But, most of all, my main mentor was my mother, who taught me to always strive to be the best -- to always constantly improve myself and my abilities. My mother gave me the drive to succeed.

Some basic rules I've learned about mentors:

* The best mentors are successful people in your own field. Their behaviors are directly translatable to your life and will have more meaning to you.

* Be suspicious of any mentors who seek to make you dependent on them. It is better to have them teach you how to fish than to have them catch the fish for you. That way, you will remain in control.

* Turn your mentors into role models by examining their positive traits. Write down their virtues, without identifying to whom they belong. When you are with these mentors, look for even more behaviors that reflect their success. Use these virtues as guidelines for achieving excellence in your field.

Additional advice: Don Hutson, CEO of U. S. Learning in Memphis, TN, and fellow member of Speakers Roundtable, offers these additional mentoring tips:

* Select people to be your mentors who have the highest ethical standards and a genuine willingness to help others.

* Choose mentors who have and will share superb personal development habits with you and will encourage you to follow suit.

* Incorporate activities into your mentor relationship that will enable your mentor to introduce you to people of influence or helpfulness. (Ask your mentor if you can join him/her at their next conference or networking event.)

* Insist that your mentor be diligent about monitoring your progress with accountability functions. (Make it a point to schedule progress "check-up" meetings once a month or every two months -- whatever is most convenient for your mentor.)

* Each party -- mentor and protégé -- should commit to confidentiality, when appropriate, due to the closeness of the relationship. (This goes without saying, but never reveal personal information about your mentor to coworkers or friends.)

* Encourage your mentor to make you an independent, competent, fully functioning, productive individual. (In other words, give them full permission to be brutally honest about what you need to change.)

Questions to ask. Acquiring good habits from others will accelerate you towards achieving your goals. Ask yourself these questions to get the most out of your role-model/mentors:

1. What would they do in my situation?

2. What do they do every day to encourage growth and to move closer to a goal?

3. How do they think in general? In specific situations?

4. Do they have other facets of life in balance? What effect does that have on their well-being?

5. How do their traits apply to me?

6. Which traits are worth working on first? Later?

A final word: Under the right circumstances mentors make excellent role models. The one-to-one setting is highly conducive to learning as well as to friendship. But the same cautions hold true here as for any role model. It is better to adapt their philosophies to your life than to adopt them.

Here's to more personal insight,


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Tony and his mentor/friend Jim Cathcart enjoying a fine dining experience, sporting their matching goatees.