I got the opportunity to interview my hero and invisible mentor, Jim Rohn, a few years ago. On December 5, 2009, Jim Rohn a business philosopher and teacher, passed away from pulmonary fibrosis. I was very saddened by the news, but his words will live on, and I am grateful for the 30 minutes that he was in my life.
How I Got to Interview Jim Rohn
A few years ago I interviewed Jim Rohn for my newsletter Ambeck Edge, and my book Tales of People Who Get It. In one of those instances, Jim telephoned me and I conducted the interview. Just talking to him, you would never believe he was an extremely wealthy person. He was very respectful and down to earth. When his assistant made the appointment, she got the time zones wrong, and Jim called me an hour before I was expecting the call. He was very nice about it and offered to call back at the appointed time. How many people who have “made it” would be so accommodating?
For the interview, I asked Jim the same questions that I asked the other thirty-three interviewees:
- Describe a business challenge that you had and how you resolved it
- What lessons did you learn in the process?
- How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
- In your opinion, what is the formula for success?
- Describe a major regret that you’ve had
- What’s your favourite quote and why?
- Which book did you read that made a major difference in your life?
I would like to share Jim’s answers with you because I am sure that you can learn from his responses. I mentioned that Jim Rohn was one of my invisible mentors, and in case you are wondering, what I mean by an invisible mentor, let me define it for you. Invisible mentors as defined by Washington State University professor Karen L. Peterson are unique leaders who you can learn things from by observing them over a period of time. Jim Rohn was very generous with his knowledge and I learned a great deal by reading his books and participating in his one-year success program.
Here is my gift to you, Interview With Jim Rohn
Avil Beckford: Describe a business challenge that you had and how you resolved it.
Jim Rohn: Challenge – In the early 1980s I had 13 satellite offices, all filled with people working hard, but we were losing money. A number of advisors said that we should open more offices and the result would be that we would then make money. I disagreed. I figured that if we opened more offices, we would just be compounding the losses. At this point I was faced with a difficult decision, but difficult decisions are one of the skills necessary and often what leadership is about.
Resolution: Strong leadership is required at times to make hard decisions. So I pulled the plug. We were already doing all that we could yet it wasn’t enough to make a profit using the strategy of satellite offices. We finally took our number of satellite offices down to only two –the groups that were the strongest and most profitable. Then we went back to the basics and worked to become profitable again. I still remember the pain of that hard decision, because it affected so many people. By some, it could be perceived as failure, but for us it was a strategic decision that had to be made to make our company viable and successful for the long-term. And here we are decades later, more profitable than ever. Challenges like those that I faced are hard, but when you face them head on with courage, integrity and faith, you will be ahead of the game in the long term.
AB: What lessons did you learn in the process?
JR: There are two key lessons:
- The only way to survive in business is to be profitable, unless you have an unlimited amount of money
- Get through your difficulty and learn to do better next time
AB: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Integrating my personal and professional life has always been a challenge. It’s difficult to keep family, friends, social and work all in balance. You have to recognize the challenges and develop a plan. Do not ignore them. Now that I am older, I do less work and have more time for charity. When I was younger, I constantly had to negotiate with family and friends. I paid attention to the challenges.
AB: In your opinion, what is the formula for success?
JR: You have to understand the philosophy of success. You have to be helpful to the marketplace and find a product or service that adds value. I like what Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want.”
To be successful there are two values that you bring to the table:
- The product or service
- The value that you become
The more valuable you become, the more influence you have, the better communicator you are, you manage your time better, and you recognize people for their contributions. You also become more valuable as a spouse, parent and friend.
It addition, to be successful, you have to develop certain traits such as courage, dignity, charisma and integrity. You also have to recognize that you have to work harder on yourself than on your job. You attract success because of the person you are. Personal development is key.
Find partners to work with because no one succeeds alone.
For economic safety for the future, you must have multiple skills and languages. Success is basically being the best that you can be.
AB: Describe a major regret that you’ve had.
JR: No regrets! I’ve been blessed with a unique life -- from childhood up until now. If I did have any, they are all gone by now – they’ve disappeared from memory.
AB: What’s your favourite quote and why?
JR: I like “Nothing can resist a human will that will stake even its existence on the extent of its purposes” by Benjamin Disraeli because it challenges the human spirit to ultimate possibility – give it all you’ve got. Become all you were designed to become. It simply means do it or die. We all need challenges.
AB: Which book did you read that made a major difference in your life?
JR: I always read The Holy Bible and it’s the one book that has had the biggest impact on me. It is filled with history, poetry and excellent love stories. It gives key advice to follow.
Note: Interview taken from my book, Tales of People Who Get It, pp 77-78
Here are five key lessons that I learned from interviewing Jim Rohn
- Things will always go wrong so ride through your difficulties and learn from them
- Invest in your professional development to become more valuable
- Provide products and services that add value by filling a market need
- Have a success team because no one succeeds alone
- Go with your gut instincts even if it is contrarian to what the “experts” suggest
I hope that you are able to apply the knowledge and wisdom that is in the interview. Jim Rohn, “If you can hear me, thank you for the many lessons that you have taught me. You work lives on.”
Avil Beckford, Chief Invisible Mentor, writer and researcher with over 15 years of experience, is the published author of Tales of People Who Get It and its companion workbook Journey to Getting It. Subscribe to the Invisible Mentor Blog for great interviews of successful people, book reviews, how-tos, articles and tips to mentor yourself and ignite your hidden genius. Explore the Resources page for free white papers, presentations and an e-book. Grab a copy of the Mini Learning Toolkit http://theinvisiblementor.com/MiniLearningToolkit.html.