Why is networking a dirty word?

December 13th, 2005 - 26 Comments

The bottom of this post has a free giveaway. Read on!

Everybody hates the word networking. Once, at the dinner table in college, I surveyed 20 people who lived with me. I asked them what they thought of “networking,” and 19/20 said they had negative connotations. Networking is sleazy, they said.

You can’t argue with that. I hate when people say “Ramit, you’re a good networker” because it’s such a loaded word.

The thing is, I totally disagree with common perceptions of the word. Networking isn’t about going up to people and getting 5 million business cards. It’s not about having the biggest rolodex. I mock those people. It’s about having deep relationships and giving more to people than you expect back.

I could write a lot more about this–because the #1 reason for any success I’ve had has been the people around me–but I won’t. You know why?

Because someone already did it. And they did it much better than I could have.

There is a book called Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi. This is the book I wish I’d written. It’s that good. And I’m giving away 2 signed copies (signed by the author, not me) to readers of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.

It’s easy to win. Just add a comment here and talk about

  • Your worst experience with “networking” (whatever you think it is), or
  • Your best experience with networking

I’ll pick 2 of the best entries and send you signed copies.

It’s the holiday time and I want to give stuff away. And this is one of my favorite books of all time.

The contest ends Thursday, so tell your story here.

Update: The winners have been announced.


And, if you want, sign up for Keith’s newsletter. It’s good.
Thanks to Ian for arranging these books.

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26 Comments

 

Comments

  1. Thank you for this opportunity, Ramit. I always enjoy reading your posts and applying many of the principles you are so passionate about.

    My networking began really, as an accident. I am originially from Little Rock, Arkansas, and have been a private jeweler for almost 20 years.

    Little Rock is a smalls city, only about 250,000 people. However, it is a city with many affluent people who love to attend fundraisers and society events. I am one of those who love to attend those as well. After attending five or six of these events, I began to realize I was seeing the same people at every event.

    As I began to engage people in conversation, as people always do, they would ask what I did for a living. This gave me an opportunity to of course, talk about my business. However, it also opened the door for me to find out what their profession was and follow up with them after the event.

    Eventually, nearly every affluent person in Little Rock was purchasing their jewelry from me – important peices! I also found that whatever jewelry firm I was working for, when someone asked another, “where in the world did you get that piece,” it wasn’t from XYZ jewelry store…they said, I got it from Mike Willingham.

    Another important lesson: affluent people prefer to shop where their affluent friends shop.

    This was an excellent exercise for me. Many times, I think we forget what has worked for us in the past.

    I look forward to reading the other post and gaining new insights.

    Thanks again for the opportunity. I almost purchased this book last week but, now I’ll just wait for you to send it to me.

  2. My best experience started as a neighbor queried me about helping him buy some computers. This led to me setting up everything electronic all around his house. Later he asked me if I’d be interested in working at the IT department of his law firm. The best part about this opportunity was not the job, but more networking, and mentoring. Every time I fixed a partner’s computer, they taught me a lesson: what to major in, where to go to school, where to work, what to learn, how to communicate. The initial network gave me references for schools and jobs, then I used lessons learned to interact with more people not with the intention of growing a network, but building a network of high quality, motivated people that were always smarter than I was.

    I no longer work at the firm, but I still get requests to do house calls for the partners I really connected with.

    Ultimately I was exposed to opinions, views, and personalities developed from higher institutions all over the country, and some from other countries too. Was it networking? It was more mentoring, but it began with networking, and if you’re not using networking to make money, you’re using it to grow.

  3. I’ve never had a truly bad networking experience. Usually, the worst that happens is: nothing happens. :) So here’s my best:

    I’m a solo musician of the coffeeshop variety. On my way back from the South By Southwest music conference in Austin, I was standing alone in the airport waiting to board my plane, when a guy with blue hair standing nearby noticed my guitar case. “Did you play at the conference?” he asked. We started chatting about the different acts we’d seen, who was good, etc. It turned out this guy was a music promoter in my hometown. When he found out I had spoken on a panel, he asked if I knew who to talk to be considered as a panel speaker. I said I’d forward him some info when I got home.

    As I got off the plane, I realized I had forgotten to give him a CD of my own music, which is pretty standard music networking stuff. But after many years of attending conferences like SXSW, I was worn and tired of always cajoling people to listen and/or care. I figured the guy’s suitcase was already full of CDs from hopeful artists looking for a break, most of which he’d probably just chuck in the trash, so I let it slide.

    When I got home, I emailed blue hair guy a nice-meeting-you note, and the email address of one of the conference planners.

    A few weeks went by and suddenly I got an email from him. There was a major label artist coming through town. Did I want the opening slot?

    Weeks later I found myself playing in front of a packed house in one of the larger rock clubs in Seattle. I sold a ton of CDs and filled my mailing list with new people, some of which are still my biggest fans and supporters. Through those same people I found willing volunteers who hang posters for me and refer me to venues throughout the area.

    Almost two years later, I’m still benefitting from that single, one-line email. And I didn’t even give him a CD.

    But I don’t want this story to be about just what I got out of the deal. As a guy who’s usually pretty quiet and reserved offstage, the bigger lesson I took from this is a lot of successful networking comes from just being open and willing to share resources, and hook people up when the opportunity arises.

  4. My personal opinion is that it’s impossible for an individual to learn all that’s there to learn by experience. Especially for a young person, mentorship is an absolute must.

    Every single interaction of mine with either a business man or a scientist has been accompanied by lessons in life. Stuff that no textbook or school will teach you.

    Here’s one more secret. Well established business men/scientists are keen to help you out. Honestly, they are curious to know your approach to life, and let you know if you are making the same mistakes as they did.

    Do I call this networking ? I think of it as the same way as your parents helping you out with tuition.

    Cheers.

  5. Not so much an experience as a viewpoint: The Sales Manager who hired me for my 1st job out of school always said, “Networking is only 1 letter away from being ‘Not-working’”.

    I did, and still do, disagree with this sentiment, but thought it was an interesting example of people’s preconceived notions and/or misinterpretation of a concept.

    -Russ

  6. I wouldn’t be where I am today wasn’t it for networking through the years. My wife says that it is hard for people to forget me. he following story is one of many that has blessed my life financially over the years. Three years ago I made friends with a co-worker at AOL. He left AOL but we kept our contact alive. One day he called me up, gave me a phone number to call. That phone call improved my financial fortunes for good and is the reason why I have a successful business today. The people I called needed an Arabic language trainer. I accepted the position and while working there I developed a method that allowed me to cut the time it takes to teach US soldiers that language from 70 weeks to 36 weeks with better results than the Navy is used to getting. That led me to writing a book that is a standard now among the military. Another contact I had started sending me translation work from several US agencies which tripled my income over the last three years. I designed another friends book cover and that friend in turn put my name in the acknowledgments to his book and that drove not only more business to me but also multiple opportunities for translation and book authoring.

    In a nutshell, I owe everything I have to God, my wife and then to networking. Without networking I would never be successful in business as I am today.

  7. The most interesting question (the header) was left unanswered: Why is it that people consider ‘networking’ a dirty word?

    Look at two extremes of people: the ones who are so naturally talented at networking that they don’t realize they are doing it, and the ones who are so introverted that they define any interaction with other people as networking.

    To the first group, there’s no conscious effort to network, so to them any activity called networking must be “posing” and have ulterior motives. To the introverts out there, talking to new people can be such an effort (rather than a joy) that the only way they can imagine doing it often is if there was some big payoff. Again it comes down to perceived ulterior motive. The same argument can be applied to much of the population between the two extremes.

    Of course there is an elusive third group who don’t have a natural ability to network, but do it through pure determination. They clearly do not consider networking dirty, but they also form a minority of the population (even if it’s a vocal one).

    To address the issues people have with networking being “dirty,” try to focus on the joy of meeting interesting people with interesting stories as being your reward. This reward should be enough for you to be excited about getting contact information and keeping in touch with people. If you happen to profit economically later on, consider it a bonus and nothing more. If you believe it, the people around you will see your genuine nature, and you will be rewarded with great relationships. If you don’t believe it, don’t try, because people can tell when you’re not being true to them or yourself.

  8. My worst networking experience?

    Easily, it was an Art Director’s Club meeting.

    These meetings are full of creative types (of which I am one). They range from college students to local veterans. I was very tired of the superficial chit-chat that most of the younger creatives engaged in, so I opted to sit at a table with some industry veterans instead (a photographer and creative director). I was hoping that they would share more mature insights and discuss more meaningful subject matter.

    Wrong on both accounts.

    Once we broke the ice, the two men in their mid-forties engaged in an exclusive conversation between themselves. They quickly devolved into a sexually graphic discussion that still causes me to shudder. The content was so pornographic that I didn’t even know the terminology they used. Seeing my “deer in the headlights” expression, they went on to explain some of the terms (much to my chagrin). I’m sure my face had turned 5 shades of red by this point.

    I soon excused myself and escaped back to the mindless (but safe) drivel of my peers.

    Years later, I now realize that this conversation was likely intended to scare me off so they could continue their exclusive discussions. Apparently I was not truly welcome at their table.

  9. Worst networking experience? Standing next to my bf while he’s networking.

    He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s destined for a life of politics. He runs a non-profit with several high-profile local business and political ties. He’s got that irrestistible that small-town boy charm that everyone naturally falls in love with.

    So, standing next to him means that I have to say neutral, boring things for hours on end that are calculated to make him look good and give people the fake smile while volunteering to do dumb things I don’t believe in . . . like flirting with old guys so they’ll buy raffle tickets.

    I wonder what kind of drugs they give Laura Bush. I want some.

  10. My best experience “networking” was on a job interview in Westlake Village, CA. I flew in early, and stopped at a local grocery store to pickup a couple of things prior to checking into a hotel.

    A lady backed into my rental car, but did very little damage (maybe a scuffed bumper.) After taking a quick look at both cars, I told her not to worry about it, it really wasn’t a problem. She continued to appologize, then took off.

    Later that evening, my prospective new boss had invited me to dinner at his house. Imagine my surprise when he introduced me to his wife, who turned out to be the same woman from the shopping center. Dinner was quite pleasant, and nothing was said about a prior “meeting.”

    When my interviewer phoned with an employment offer several days later, he said that his wife had remarked several times about what a “nice young man” I was, later that evening.

    Moral? Networking is all the time, not just when you think you should turn it on.

    Cheers,

    DW

  11. I left my previous company which is in Mumbai after working there for 5 years and moved to Bangalore with high hopes for long term plans. Once I reached Bangalore I came to know this is not the place I want to be. Accidentally I met a old friend and I told him I don’t like this place. Today morning I got a call from my old company asking me if I want to go to UK for couple of years for an interesting assignment. Somehow they came to know that I don’t like this place. It doesn’t matter what I decide, once again networking put forward one more option without confessing my bad decision to anybody.

  12. This is a wonderful oppotunity. Thank you Ramit, along with this prolific website that has become the one I visit most frequently. Here is my best experience of networking:

    When I was still earning my BS in computer science back in Beijing, I responded to a seemingly casual “help wanted” poster and volunteered to be a guide accompanying a British family whose great-grandpa was burried in Beijing. Without any previous experience at all, I somehow managed to not only present a city in all her glamor and reality, but also to find the grave of the great-grandpa and the dilapidated house that the previous generation of the family used to live in. The son of the family who happened to be a CEO of an IT firm in London, wrote me recommendation letters and got me acquainted with a few other contacts in the industry, all of which proved to be quite helpful. What’s more, 8 months later, he appointed me again as the guide to him and his son on their trip throughout China. I was asked to design the whole itinerary without any budget constraints, and I was even able to bring my girlfriend along with me! It was truely a marvelous experience when you travel to beautiful places and stay in spectacular hotels, and you don’t have to pay a dime…

    Anyway, just like what the others have said in the previous posts, this kind of contact spun out of nowhere, and the favorable chain of networking ensued. What I’d like to emphasis from my experience is, while this serendipity is yours to seize, you still have show your best and make sure it’s fully exploited to your advantage. I wish everyone here happy working and happy living!

  13. Ironically, my worst experience with networking was also my own fault. A few years back, while I was still working on my Computer Science degree, I decided I would put my techie skills to work by talking to some wealthy contacts I knew to ask if I could work for them in my spare time. Initially, I was offered a position in this way: “You can make your own hours, come in whenever you want, and we’ll pay you $XX.XX/hour for your trouble”.

    The work went fine for a while, until I started getting calls from random people looking for help with their computers. I later discovered that the original contact thought I could use “help” getting more work, so he had spread my name amongst his friends. Those people spread my name amongst their friends and…. well, you see where this is going. Soon enough, I had countless businesses in the area expecting much more out of me then I could ever hope to provide. Within a week, my voice mail and email boxes were completely full of upset, but good-intentioned computer illiterates, expecting me to drop everything I was doing to change the screensavers on their computers. Most of them were actually creating work for me to do, because they had heard I was “struggling to make ends meet”.

    Unfortunately, I ended up having to change my phone number and email address to stop the “harrassment”. I still don’t understand why my name continued to propogate throughout the people as a “good computer guy” even though I had never worked for anyone they directly knew and had ignored all of their friends requests for help. I checked a few months ago; my email address from back then is still getting requests for help from NEW people.

    My best experience was getting involved at my church . When I was in college, my church had a very large college service and I decided to get involved by helping out running sound, fixing techie stuff, etc.. and through the process I became good friends with the pastors and many other men and women in the church. As I graduated and struggled to find a job I would enjoy, the pastors mentioned me to some of their friends. I interviewed for 7 other jobs in this area, but none really excited me. Just as I was getting ready to accept an offer with one of the local companies (Wal-Mart ISD), I received an offer for a job from a complete stranger.

    So here I am, 1 year later, programming for a living, loving my job, while making more money than any of my other offers, and actually enjoying my work every day. Amazingly, I didn’t even have to interview for this job, my boss hired me as soon as he met me (after so many people from the church had spoken highly of me). I could’ve never imagined how things would turn out by just getting to know some folks at a church. I’ve come to realize that people can be trusting and giving in this world after all, if you just get to know them and trust in God.

  14. The following experience wasnt mine, but I am friends with the person that it happened to, and observed his clear discomfort about being in “networking” situation that he didnt want to be in.

    A couple of years ago, I decided to follow a life long dream of learning how to fly. As I immersed myself in the culture of aviation, I realized that getting hired at an airline is highly dependent on getting a recomendation from a pilot that is already employed there. In my opinion, this has mostly to do with cultural and personality reasons, but it also has to do with safety. As you can imagine, the pressure to “network” with the right people can be significant.

    A friend of mine recently was able to make the leap from flight instructing to a regional airline, and has since been the recipient of multiple “networking” inquiries from his former peers. One person was particularly agressive. The problem was my friend didnt really want to spend his credibility capital with his employer recomending this particular person for a job. On the other hand, my friend genuinely likes this person, and wants to avoid offending him. He ended up writing a *very* carefully worded recomendation for him. The world of professional aviation is quite small, and you never know when roles might be reversed, so it pays to maintain friendly relations with folks. Of course, sticky situations will happen. It’s how you deal with them that’s important.

    –Andy

  15. Having recently arrived in London, I was invited to attend a monthly meet up of an Ivy League university graduates. The monthly event was not restricted to people who had graduated from this particular institution, but it guaranteed that the core of the group would be. The invitation was extended by an acquaintance of a friend of mine who I met in another monthly reunion event. She was not a graduate of this institution herself and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to see networking in full swing and possibly make contacts of my own.

    I fall under the category of people who are not good at networking, believe in its value and make the effort, not always with much success.

    I found it fascinating watching people who have perfected the art of networking. Most of the attendees did not have any delusions of why they were there. It was about meeting as many people as possible, in the two hours available and identifying the more valuable contacts. Groups of about four to five people spent no more then 10 minutes in a circle, finding out about each other, in a very direct and focused manner. There was no idle chit chat. I guess they had adopted and lived by the principle of time is money and they had invested two hours of theirs. Most of the people I met worked in the financial industry and the talk was around names, money and markets.

    Since then I have attended quite a few of these networking events, but what struck me that day was that people took the opportunity to network beyond what is beneficial for business or career. The lady who invited me to this event would much later admit that she was looking for a husband. What better place to find a good prospect?

    At the time I was quite taken a back, as the only reason I saw for attending a networking event as this time was to meet interesting people and form useful contacts. At that time, networking, through her eyes became a dirty word for me.

    She is still looking and my initial surprise has worn off. What this showed me is that networking can sometimes be taken to new heights, but it only becomes a ‘dirty’ word if it goes beyond one’s perception of the allowed boundaries.

    I was surprised by the fact that this lady was using networking events to look for potential husband, but that is only because I never thought it as a possibility that people would do that. This is not a moral judgment, just something I had not considered.

    To attempt to answer your question, networking can be a dirty word only if you perceive it to be. It comes down to how hungry you are to meet people and what are you willing to do to achieve it.

  16. I had a negative networking experience that not only was bad, it was famous! People who weren’t there told me they heard about it.

    I work for a Chamber of Commerce. Me, my mom, and one of our Chamber members who has his store across the street from the Chamber office, went to an event that was not a Chamber event, it was for our local downtown association (where we are located). It was a holiday shopping experience where all the shops were open for the evening, with decorations, lights, light snacks … just a really lovely evening of people enjoying the downtown and getting their shopping done..

    The member (Jim) was very eager to show me and my mom one of the local antique shops where he was getting some great furniture and to introduce us to the owner. We went into the store and ran into one of my mom’s old high school friends … who also happened to know store owner. Sounds nice so far ….right?.

    My mom’s friend introduced us to the shop owner, saying that I worked for the Chamber. Whereupon the store owner’s face clouded up, she literally turned on me, raised her finger, pointed it at my face and said in a loud, shrill voice, “Oh, the CHAMBER. Well, let me tell you what the Chamber has done to me…” She then proceeded, in the middle of the store, in front of customers, to lambaste me for someone else’s ad campaign that didn’t include her. My attempt to tell her that we weren’t involved in the ads went totally unheeded.

    She continued to tell me what a bad job we were doing to promote her business (she’s not even a member) and then, still in a loud and aggressive way, started to complain to me about the very organization that had put on the lovely event that brought all those customers to her store that night.

    I’m futilely trying to tell that she’s made a mistake, when my mother had had enough. She turned to the woman and said “Lady! You are rude! My daughter has told you three times she’s not involved with that. We’re leaving.”

    My friend Jim had already fled and was outside. As we walked toward the front of the store, the owner followed us! When we turned to tell my mom’s friend we were sorry that her friend (the store owner) acted that way, the woman started in again! So we just walked out and down the street with her voice following us. Needless to say, we never shopped there again. I found out later from a number of people that she was pretty famous for launching in to people and organizations that she hadn’t joined, hadn’t participated in and really had no basis for complaint. I enjoy networking and love to go meet new people, but that one took the cake!

  17. The worst experience came from the one sided nature of a connection and therefore the limited link with the other person. I had met a key mover in the medical-device industry who was eager with regards to may experience and future prospects. This person had played up my potential and offered an extensive set of links to further my career search. But, due to the one sided nature of this network, there was nothing I could offer up in return and once the offer of assistance failed to materialize my network connection changed to that of a person coming hat in hand looking for help rather than as a peer working to enlarge his network.

    The best experiences have always come from the satisfaction of helping peers in professional pursuits while knowing that they may never be able to reciprocate.

  18. So anyhow, I was finishing law school and looking for a job. I had been active in service and leadership. I had worked at several law firms as a clerk. I had clerked with a couple of judges. I had been meeting and connecting with as many people as I could. In Keith’s lingo, they were mainly shallow bumps, but they were bumps none the less. However, I managed deep bumps with my employers.

    I found the perfect job opening. I wanted it. I immediately began to talk with my mentors and contacts to see who knew any of the partners at the firm which had the opening. Luck would have it that my mentors and friends knew several attorneys and one was currently working on a case with the hiring partner. I asked them all to help me in any way they could. They did.

    As an added measure, I researched each partner and associate at the firm. I saw that one was an adjunct professor who I knew casually. I called him with a genuine interest to learn more about the firm.

    He brought along two other attorneys. We had a great lunch and I attempted the deep bump with each (by this time I had read Never Eat Alone, which is my number one book next to Getting Things Done by David Allen). At the end of this casual lunch, one of the attorneys asked if I had sent in my resume. I said yes. Surprisingly, he then said he would look for it when he got back to the office and make sure I got a first intervew, with HIM.

    I also talked with an assistant dean, with whom I had several deep bumps and worked with closely. He connected me with the newest associate of the firm, who had been hired just a year previously, from my school. I spoke with her, and found at the end of our discussion that she would be the other interviewer.

    Before the first interview, I had met with and connected with the two interviewers through connections I had made over the previous two years.

    More amazingly, in the end, my first interview was a formality, because my lunch meeting went so well, the adjunct attorney I went to lunch with offered me a second round interview BEFORE I had my first interview. He had taken personal interest in my candidacy because of my attempt to connect with him.

    I had made enough solid personal connections, with enough people to leapfrog through the process. I was later offered a position and told that in the end, I was the top candidate by far, because of the connections I had made.

    It didn’t hurt that I researched the second round interviewers and the firm so that I could execute a deep bump in each interviews by discussing real problems and real cases that they were currently working on.

    Keith shifted my paradigm. I previously hated networking because I saw it as a shallow exercise in futility. I felt shallow. However, once I felt the power of the deep bump, I felt the shift. My deep human desire for honest personal connections was not an impediment to networking, but rather, my desire is the heart and soul of true networking.

    Thanks for a moment to share and the forum to do it.

  19. I just took the book Never Eat Alone out of the public library (yes, there still are libraries with real live librarians there to help you). This was just after I had breakfast with 3 other people that I worked with last year.

    The librarian got the book because it was on hold for me. As she passed it to me she said, “I read that book.”

    We then discussed the book a bit and she said it was helpful and useful to her. She was a newer librarian that I had not met before but I think we just “networked” over the book.

    My networks are CBC and CTV (one of those darn Canadians that populate the Internet) My card is Mastercard. But my relationships are priceless.

  20. A few years ago I was the CEO (and founder) of a Wireless ISP (Wi-Fi Hotspots) in The Netherlands. One evening I attended a birthdayparty of a business contact I didn’t even know that well. I didn’t feel like going at first but felt it was the right thing to do so I went anyway. At the party I spoke with a guy who told me he worked at a large telecom operator. At the end of the evening we exchanged emailaddresses and shook hands. As I came home I decided to email him with a small compliment and my contact data. I also asked him if he knew of any plans for Wi-Fi hotspots at his company. He answered me he would look into that at get back on it. Two days later he invited me to his company to talk to his boss. One month later we sold our company to them.

    I have always believed in serendipity and the power to influence your destiny. And that was also the reason I DID go to that party that night. I think this is a very good example of good and fruitfull networking…

  21. I think an important point to add to all of this is is to never burn bridges. When you leave a company whether by your choice or theirs do not tell people you hate them or your true opinion about them. You never know who they know or where they might be working in 5 years. Also make sure not to talk badly about a company in front of people you don’t know, you never know who they work for or if you will be applying to work there one day.

  22. The tool of informational interviewing is one that I learned when I was in the MBA program at Virginia Tech. I simply wrote handwritten letters to athletic directors at Division 1 institutions across the nation asking for 10 minutes of thier time to ask them what it took to be in their shoes. (I am now not pursuing that career.) One letter I wrote was to CM Newton, the AD at Kentucky. At the time, he was pretty powerful and the chair of the NCAA basketball selection committee. It was a late Friday afternoon and I was taking a snooze after a long week and the phone rang and it was CM Newton saying he got my note and was ready to asner my questions. I was caught with my pants down – literally – but fortunately I recovered and had a nice 20-minute conversation with him about college athletics and becoming an AD. Information interviews works, but the lesson is to be prepared at all times!!!

  23. My best networking story is this:

    I was renting an apartment in Boston and need two roommates to pay the rent. Of course, finding roommates was a harrowing experience with all kinds of odd people coming into my apartment, plus the fact that I was a motivated “Buyer” almost led me to live with some of them.

    Anyway, couple of weeks in, someone comes to check out the place who was a good forty years older than me. Even so, we sat down and talked and turns out that he was a very cool guy. In addition, he was a curator of a local art gallery. He helped me get my old comedy troupe, Late Night Players, into a showcase there where we met other cool groups, which led to more shows with them as well as our own solo show at the gallery. At one of our shows, we met the head of a local Improv club who helped us get a recurring show then. This all snowballed into making comedy a fulltime gig by traveling around and performing at colleges.

    Huzzah for networking

  24. Hi,

    Love your web site!!

    Regarding Networking, because it did feel sleazy and because I didn’t feel comfortable asking people for something with out being up front about my intentions.

    Your idea totally turns things around.

  25. Don’t ignore the flaws your mentor displays. Everyone has flaws. Learn from their flaws so you don’t repeat them.

    Also be realistic as well as idealistic. The sooner you learn that you must first survive in order to thrive, the better off you will be. Ultimately, it’s your life and times that matter.