In 2011, after the release of my first book, The Profound Life, I ran into a book marketer in Owerri one fateful evening in the month of July. He had cut a deal with me to sell my books. As we were rounding off our discussion, he asked me if I knew Steve Harris and if I had read his book. I had never heard of him. The book marketer gave me a copy of Steve’s book titled From College Dropout to Corporate Sellout. I paid for the copy and left for Port Harcourt.
As soon as I set my eyes on the first page, I became glued. I read the book in less than three hours. His writing style in the book was conversational, witty and personal. Being a budding writer, I fell in love with the work. I resolved I was going to meet Steve Harris. I searched his name on Facebook, sent him a request, and sent him a message outlining the intent of my heart. I spelt it out in clear terms – I wanted him to mentor me. I never knew how to go about writing to him, so I decided to just go with what my heart dictated to me. On 16th of July 2011, at 9:57 p.m., I sent him a message via Facebook.
A friend of mine told me your story and I was impressed. I decided to add you to my Facebook contacts and communicate with you.
I am an industrial production engineer by profession, but I have a passion for seeing individuals unearth their gifts and talents and use their passion for impacts in life. I formed Profound Impacts International. I work during the weekdays and speak and write at weekends. My first book The Profound Life: Principles and Strategies for Living a Life of Impacts was published in Port Harcourt and I have sold 150 copies and counting within two weeks of its emergence. I am currently working on my second book. My website is www.profoundimpacts.org and am currently working on launching it next week as the designs have been completed.
I am in dire need of a coach and a mentor. I have applied to several of them and have been turned down. I love the works of Fela Durotoye and Lanre Olusola and I have ever yearned to meet them. When I heard you trained under Fela Durotoye, I decided to contact you. You have made impacts in your work and ministry and I admire you.
Give me the privilege of being your protege. I will be in Lagos in October at the end of my offshore project to see a few companies that will publish my second book as I seek for a better work than the first. I intend for you to give me audience.
Thanks a lot for adding me and I look forward to your reply.
God bless you.
I waited for a few days and got no reply. I sent another one, yet no reply. I wasn’t flattened as my resolve was cast in steel. If it meant travelling from Port Harcourt to Lagos to meet with him, I was going to do just that. Finally, on 23rd of July, he replied.
I do apologize for the delayed response.
Congratulations on your first book! I trust that a lot of lives have been tremendously blessed as a result of it.
Before I do consider your request, iIm curious to know why your request for mentoring had been turned down and by whom.
I await your response.
Have a great day!
My persistence had paid off. At least I was getting closer.
In the month of September of that same year, I got home from work in the evening and as I was browsing the net, I happened to see a graphic design advertising an event where Steve Harris was to speak in Aba. I knew I couldn’t miss that chance. I told my wife excitedly about my discovery. On the morning of that day I left for Aba very early so I could sit at the front and have the opportunity to be close to him. It seemed that providential forces had seen my heart and decided to play an even bigger role for me. I met the convener of the summit and hinted about my desire to meet with Steve Harris after he had spoken. He promised he would do his best to let me achieve my objective.
Fate smiled on me. After Steve Harris had delivered his speech and taken his seat, the convener of the event called me to come over to sit beside Steve Harris. It was a dream come true. The feelings that streamed though me were magical and ethereal. I knew that my moment of glory had come. Quickly, I introduced myself to him and told him about my previous efforts at reaching him, adding that I had bought and read his book. I brought out the book and he autographed it. I also gave him a copy of my book, extracting a promise from him to read it. I was elated it. Later that day, he sent me a message – inserting his phone number and BBM pin – and that marked the beginning of a beautiful mentoring relationship that has lasted since then.
In 2013, I signed up to be coached by him for three months on the art and business of public speaking. For those three months, Steve poured into my heart what I needed to know. My thirst for knowledge stirred his capacity to deliver beyond the curriculum of the coaching program. That further cemented our relationship. That singular coaching catapulted me from being paid N11,250 for 8 hours to N50,000 for 45 minutes. The transformation was phenomenal.
Our relationship keeps budding gradually. It is a symbiotic one, something many folks seeking mentorship don’t often take into consideration. A combination of many things have led to the formidable friendship we share today, hinged on mutual respect and trust. Steve is a phenomenal consultant to many blue chip companies in Nigeria and his speaking fees are in the 6-figure range. I couldn’t just hire him to come speak at my event, but it happened. At my class for public speakers on June 20th this year, he facilitated a session. That could have only been possible due to the relationship we share, mentor-mentee relationship that is healthy.
I have been approached many times by folks to serve as a mentor. It is a great feeling, primarily because the beckoning was due to my blossoming gifts. However, many of them have a watered down construct of mentoring.
What is mentorship? Is there an absolute definition for this concept? How important is mentorship to budding entrepreneurs? Do we actually need mentors in our work and walk of life? How do we identify a suitable mentor? Can we have just a mentor or many mentors for the different aspects of our lives? How do we break away from mentors when we want to move on life or when we know they have served their purpose in our lives?
In the coming weeks, we shall x-ray these questions and proffer honest answers in a series. Keep tabs every Thursday for the next three weeks.
Editor’s Note: The Introduction: Who Is Your Mentor? Part 1 – is the first in the series of this mentorship article by Emeka Nobis, the remaining parts will be live on Biztorials.com every thursday for the next three weeks. Subscribe to our mailing list to know when new series go live. If you’re interested in other articles by Emeka, visit EmekaNobis.com