I’ve been fortunate enough to have many different interests thoughout my life – including filmmaking, music, public speaking and entrepreneurship to name just a few, but quite honestly, as I went to pursue each of these interests, I often felt like I was flying blind.
I would exhaust a ton of energy and time trying to produce results, only to later learn that they could have been accomplished cheaper, faster and probably better had I had the proper guidance. The guidance I’m talking about simply doesn’t come from school or books, TV or the Internet. It comes from real people holding your hand along the way, perhaps even opening doors for you and helping to (forgive the pun) satisfy your hunger for more knowledge.
When it comes to filmmaking, I went to one of the top film schools in the country and read all of the most popular books, and don’t get me wrong – it was all very helpful, but I never learned how to raise money, how to write a business plan, how to find distribution, how to wet investor’s appetites, how to negotiate music rights. All those things I had to figure out on my own by trial and error. The learning curve was so steep, in fact, that I wound up bankrupt, homeless and almost killed on a trip to Peru to escape my problems.
Now many people reading this would say, “well that’s OK, Evan. That’s how we learn- by trying things and making mistakes, etc.” I say, that’s one of the ways we learn, sure, and yes, it may have toughened me up, but the fact is I could have accomplished all of the above tasks about 10 times faster and with less stress if I had a guide who had already gone down my road before. He or she would have told me not to waste time trying to get the rights to that Alannis Morissette song, to make a cut of my film without the bad language or to approach only the most appropriate distributors for my film.
Wishful thinking? Not exactly. The mentee/mentor relationship is as old as humankind. Just take a look at examples like Socrates/Plato, Marc Andressen/Mark Zukerberg or Dr. Dre/Eminem. It’s my belief (and validated recently by Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers) that no one truly makes it on their own. They all had a support system behind them. I’ve even noticed that people in my own life who have mentors often excel much faster than those that don’t.
So, you see, I didn’t have to re-invent the wheel. The wheel was already invented by others who came before. It’s just that the blueprint for this wheel was not passed down in an efficient manner to the one who was seeking it. Sure, I could have sought and found a mentor to help me, but I didn’t even think to do that. And if I did, there was no clear cut path for this process. I did write Cameron Crowe a letter one time after he mentioned in the LA Times that he was open to helping other filmmakers, but I never got a response.
Unfortunately, this little tale repeated itself throughout my life in other areas which my inner circle did not have expertise in – changing careers, redesigning my house, even starting Internet companies. If I just had an hour lunch per week with 10 different Internet entrepreneurs before I started Go Massage, I would have easily saved thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time.
I’m not saying the mentors weren’t out there. They were. They are. But if you’re not brave enough to reach out to strangers, then you’re limited to the skill sets of your close friends and family, and so many of us need mentors outside of that circle. We just need a better system in place to get in touch with them – better than a random encounter at a cocktail party with a landscape architect and getting tips on our front yard.
So that, in a nutshell, is why I created Meals with Mentors. With today’s technology, we no longer have to be limited in our goals. We can be mentored by anyone who has the skills we seek as long as they’re willing to impart their knowledge. The end result after our mentorship is that we’ll live a life that’s less stressful and more fulfilling.
As this blog continues over the next month and years to come, I hope to profile a number of different real mentor/mentee relationships, and possibly even interview people who have met through this very website. We’ll explore topics like the qualities a mentor is looking for in a mentee as well as the various different mentee approaches – meeting just one time with many different mentors vs. meeting multiple times with one mentor.
So stay tuned and please subscribe to this blog and write comments. They really mean a lot to me.
Thanks again, and we’ll see you next time.
Evan Aaronson, Founder