LESSON 10Mentors Are Available for the Price of Asking

I’ve asked a number of entrepreneurs who have benefited from mentors about how they found them, and most did it the old-school way—they asked. “There’s a lot of nice people out there who want to mentor others, many of them because they had also benefited from mentors. All you have to do is ask them,” advises John Bridge, an entrepreneur based in Chicago.1

It also helps if you display the ambition and energy the young John Bridge did. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, John enrolled in a local college to study business. While his classmates were competing for top grades as their ticket to job security, John had already learned that no such thing exists. His father had worked for 28 years for the same company until the day the owner decided to sell the business. “My father ended up without a job and with five kids.”

John viewed college as an opportunity to find an area where he could get into business for himself as quickly as possible. One day, a guest lecturer turned up in his real estate class to talk about property tax liens, something that John knew nothing about. The lecturer, a local real estate entrepreneur named Barrett Rochman, explained to the class that municipalities and counties depend on property taxes to bankroll public services and government employees. When a home or business owner doesn’t pay those taxes, eventually the county obtains a lien against the property. If the taxes remain unpaid for a certain ...

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