Finding a mentor who has experience in your field can be a transformative step in your career.
Today’s post is by Harma Hartouni, author of Getting Back Up: A Story of Resilience, Self-Acceptance and Success (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
I was born in the U.S. but raised in Iran from the time I was an infant. As a gay man in an extremely homophobic country like Iran, there was no way for me to thrive while being honest about who I was. When I was 18 years old, a horrific car accident broke both of my legs and left me unable to walk for a year as I recovered. Afterward, I packed up everything and moved to the U.S., determined to create a better life and find success as my authentic self. As a Middle Eastern man who didn’t speak English, I was certainly at a disadvantage when I came to this country. But I found success through diligence, investment in myself, and a strong belief in the value of mentorship.
When I decided that I wanted to start a real estate career, I quickly found a mentor in my first broker who took me under his wing. He was successful, had a great market share, and a loyal client base. I wanted to model my career after his. He taught me two valuable lessons that I’ve never forgotten. First, he taught me that you should find someone who has the job or career you want and learn from them. Second, he taught me to take what I was naturally good at and use it as a foundation to build upon. Always build on strengths, not weaknesses, and never spend too much time trying to be better at what you aren’t good at. Applying these lessons to my career played a huge role in my early success, and I quickly became one of the top agents in the area. Eventually, I moved my business to a different market, and with that, everything changed, including my environment and what I needed from a mentor. I had outgrown him. Though bittersweet, every mentor’s goal should be to help their mentee outgrow them. If your mentor doesn’t believe that you will grow beyond them, they aren’t the right mentor for you.
As my career grew, I wanted to refocus on more than just building a profitable real estate business. I took a management position with my company, but I didn’t just want to be a manager; I wanted to be a leader. Those are two different things. Managers make sure other people do what they are supposed to do. Leaders earn respect, inspire others, and change lives. Being a leader is much more than just a title, and it requires you to learn from other leaders and invest in refining your skills. Becoming a leader does not happen overnight, and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t come naturally. It’s hard work. My management role eventually led to an ownership stake, and I found myself in charge of nearly 1100 people. It’s impossible to manage that many people; you have to lead them. I hired a coach with a proven track record of helping people tap into their ability to influence others, and it was one of the best investments I ever made. We grew into one of the best brokerages in Southern California, and people wanted to be on my team not just because we were doing well but because of my strength as a leader.
When I sold my stake in the company, I wasn’t sure what my next chapter would be, but I knew the best place to start was to find someone to help guide me. I hired a transitional coach to help me figure out my big “why?” He inspired me to dream bigger, examine my strengths further, and determine ways I could use them to build a bridge to my new goals. Once again, the investment paid for itself and took my career and brand to new heights. I can’t stress the value of having a mentor or coach in your corner if you hope to be influential and successful. They hold you accountable and often believe in you much more than you believe in yourself. It’s more than just having a cheerleader; it’s having an objective person to challenge you and point you in the right direction.
Coming to this country as a minority without knowing the language made finding success challenging, and people are often impressed by how far I’ve come. But that’s not the full story. The full story isn’t just about how far I’ve come; it is also about how hard I’ve worked. Over the last twenty years, I have made it my mission to focus on improvement and growth as an entrepreneur and leader. Nobody starts from nothing. At the very least, you have your belief in yourself and the ability to find others to motivate you. Invest in yourself and surround yourself with people who inspire, challenge, and teach you. When you do that, success starts to feel a lot less abstract and a lot more attainable. If you continue to take small steps forward, eventually you will reach the mountain top.
I believe deeply in the importance of mentorship in becoming a strong leader and entrepreneur. If you want to learn more about how to choose a mentor or professional coach, head over to my YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheHarmaChannel/featured.
Harma Hartouni is a self-made entrepreneur and developer, owns a real estate company employing hundreds of residential and commercial real estate agents in Southern California, and runs the #1 ranked real estate business in his region. Hartouni has created a successful brand with his growing business footprint in Los Angeles, building a large real estate practice exceeding $1B in sales volume in 2019. As founder and CEO of multiple companies servicing the local real estate industry, Hartouni’s businesses include financial services, technology and coaching – a personal passion Hartouni has grown, now working with and coaching some of the top agents in the country on strategies to grow their business. Hartouni recently completed his memoir, Getting Back Up: A Story of Resilience, Self-Acceptance and Success (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!