How to Scale: Young vs Old

I've talked to a few young-ish entrepreneurs lately that were interested in "picking my brain", "using me as a sounding board", and/or "my mentorship" so that they could scale their company. They don't typically talk about how they want to change their customer's world, or what's in it for me or anybody else that they want to help them. I emphasize the "young-ish", not because they're less experienced or intelligent than the old guys. Rather, because the old guys typically have one of two motivations....

  1. They've tried, but struggled and need to hire the solution, or
  2. They've tried, but struggled and they're trying to pick my brain to solve the problem themselves.

Don't let the second reason make you think that I'm being cynical or sarcastic. The fact is that many that try to do it themselves realize that they need 'some' help from someone that's helped others. More importantly, the biggest difference between the "young-ish" guys and the "old" guys is that the old guys have failed. They've struggled. They've banged their heads against the wall and they're typically looking to change. The young guys haven't failed yet.

Here's the problem. When I tell a young, smart, driven entrepreneur that they're not ready for me and that they should go fail, they get really upset with me. Three days ago, one of those positive attitude, 'can-do' hot shots replied.

"I'd rather not fail...if I can avoid it at all costs. Can't preparation be the victor in this case? Couldn't guidance be the foundation for re-writing the necessity for failure? Thank you so much for the articles, I will be looking over them along with the other works that you and Mark have put out. I'm determined to do more than just be any other salesperson...I want to create a legacy that will open more paths, doors, and opportunities to me so I can guide my future in the direction I've always wanted. I hope you'll stay in touch!"

Well! Duh! Nobody wants to fail. Moreover, isn't his reply all about him? What about the rest of the world? "Open ... to me ... I can guide my future in the direction I've always wanted."

Failure isn't the only thing. Intelligence is important. Not education, but the ability to learn. Humility helps. Many people just don't like know-it-alls, even if they pretend that they're not. Real curiosity is great once you learn how to be curious without appearing to be nosy or have an agenda. This stuff is hard to measure especially in ourselves. We don't always see what others see and just because we think or believe something, that doesn't mean that others will think or believe the same way especially if we don't fit the mold of our ideal customer.


There have been many very successful, young entrepreneurs. Why can some succeed without failing? Could it be that they have developed (nature/nurture) sales core competencies that help? When I tell someone to go fail, it's typically that our conversation has uncovered an issue in their competencies and when I poked at it, they didn't want to fix it. Until they do, I can't help.


  • are you looking to pick someone's brain?
  • be the best you could be?
  • follow a mentor?
  • maximize your sales growth?

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