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The Importance of Learning From Those Who Have Done it Before

Learn from others

When was the last time you got help from someone who had first-hand experience with what you were working on?

Mentors and advisers are important, but sometimes a “subject matter expert” (SME) is really what you need when trying to crush a challenging goal.

In working on my book Debt Destroyer, I discovered just how critically important it is to have an experienced ally who can help you avoid mistakes they’ve made on a similar path.

In my case, I had a couple allies:

Both of these guys have written and launched successful books on Amazon.

Dave wrote Conversation Casanova: How to Effortlessly Start Conversations and Flirt Like a Pro and David has written multiple books, including Secrets of the Super Fit: Proven Hacks to Get Ripped Fast Without Steroids or Good Genetics.

Their books make them thousands of dollars each month in passive income. (And yes, I’m super jealous.)

The Value of Experienced Allies

When you get help from someone who’s done it before – that “it” being whatever goal, task, or challenge you’re focused on – you leverage the blood, sweat, and tears of their real world experience to improve the odds of your own success.

Thanks to one-on-one calls with Dave and David, I was introduced to useful marketing tools I’d never heard of, steps to take to make my book more reader-friendly, and clever methods for making sure my book would be compelling to my audience.

Just those two calls saved me dozens of hours of research and contributed to my success in ranking quickly on Amazon’s Kindle store.

Ranked #1, #2, and #2

One of the tactics launched me to the top of my ranked categories

Successfully completing a new project typically involves facing a lot of unknowns. It doesn’t matter if you’re launching a new book, creating a physical product, or trying to lose weight – chances are, there are quite a few things you don’t know (and don’t know that you don’t know #meta).

That’s what’s so great about experienced allies.

They show you what to watch out for, how to dance around common pitfalls, and where to invest your energy so you can get more of the “bang” for less of the “buck.”

I came across a great example of this recently when I found ESI Money’s Millionaire Interviews.

It’s an interview series with high net worth individuals about their income, their job, their assets, and how they got to where they are today. Check it out if you’re looking for some money inspiration.

How to Find Experienced Allies

OK great. You appreciate that experienced allies are important, but where do you find them? Where can you find people who can help you with your specific goals and challenges?

Here are some places to start:

#1 – Facebook

How often do you reach out to your friends on Facebook for help?

Chances are you have a number of friends and acquaintances in your network that could point you in the right direction.

I frequently ask my Facebook friends something like…

“Hey Friends – Know someone who’s experienced with X? Message me! I’m struggling with X and could really use some help. Thanks in advance.”

What’s great about this approach is that if your friend’s end up recommending someone to help you, there’s a good chance they’ll vouch for you and make an email introduction. This starts you off with a good foundation for building a relationship with the person you’re being introduced to.

#2 – LinkedIn

Have you actually looked through your professional network to see what skill sets are in the mix?

Salespeople, coders, graphic designers, authors, investors, C-suite execs… who knows what you’ll find in your list of connections.

You can search by Title, or browse your connections to get an idea of who’s in your network.

If you don’t have a strong connection with someone, that’s OK, just reach out with a friendly message and see what you hear back.

Keep your messages short and to the point, and take a little time to learn about the person before you reach out. Otherwise you risk rubbing them the wrong way and coming off “salesy.”

#3 – Meetups

Ever use Meetup.com?

It’s free, easy to use, and a great resource for finding people who are experienced in all sorts of business and non-business domains.

Meetups are typically location-specific, but it’s a big enough platform that there’s probably a relevant Meetup in your area.

Working on a book? Look for Meetups for authors.

Working on a tech startup? Look for a tech startup / entrepreneurship Meetup.

Something else? They probably have that too.

The Takeaway

In case I haven’t hammered this in enough already, my point is this:

  1. All allies are valuable (mentors, advisers, etc.)
  2. Those with firsthand experience may prove MORE valuable if your goal is making tangible progress faster
  3. It pays to seek these people out deliberately

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on people with knowledge who lack firsthand experience, knowledge is valuable too.

But… I’ve read dozens of entrepreneurship books, worked for a half dozen startups, and even TAUGHT entrepreneurship at a university in Boston – and none of that prepared me for creating a business on my own.

Just my 2 cents. What do YOU think?

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