Recently the word “bossy” has come under fire (see www.banbossy.com). Is “boss” the better word? I’m not buying it. The campaign is well intentioned. The more important issue is that, if we are going to succeed in life and in business, we need to help each other out. We need mentors. I encourage you to find bossy ones.
As the Plumber’s Wife, I got sucked into the family business. I was in charge of the office, and my husband, Hotrod – The Plumber – turned the wrenches. It was miserable. We didn’t make any money. I started to network, to find others who were interested in building their businesses and increasing sales and profits. I felt a little lost, as I was one of very few women at the local association meetings.
Then, I met Frank Blau. Frank is a super successful contractor and he wrote a column about pricing in a plumbing trade magazine. I wrote him a letter, requesting his help and pathetically justifying why we couldn’t possibly raise our prices. Frank called me on the phone a few days later. He told me I had my head so far up my #@% I would never see the light of day.
Well. I was…offended. I hung up on him. Then, I got angry. Then, I got over it.
I called Frank back and I am so glad I did. Frank taught me how to make money. He continues to mentor me. And he is bossy as hell.
Frank introduced me to Lisa Carter. Lisa is also a Plumber’s Wife. She is hands down the best marketing mind I have ever met. Lisa and I bonded as we waited in the short line for the Women’s Restroom at a national plumbing convention. Where Frank is a good ol’ boy, Lisa represents the new school: a smart, savvy, bossy woman who is making a mark in a man’s world. She and I have been friends, and I her mentee, for 15 years.
Bottom line: Nobody is successful all on their own. We need mentors. Here are some tips for finding a few great ones…
Pick folks who are smarter and richer than you. You want challenging people, bossy people, who will help you grow and develop. Aim for 2-3 crackerjack mentors. Approach successful people, offer to take them to lunch, and keep asking until they respond. If someone turns you down, accept the rejection gracefully. Then ask one more time.
Help them right back. Nobody has it all together in every area of their life. While Frank is an awesome businessperson, he struggles with poor health. I have a financial mentor who has made a mess of three marriages. Lisa is an aspiring author, and it is awesome to be able to help her with her writing career. Bring your skills to the table. Offer to help as well as be helped.
Expect them to be bossy. Certainly, you want a bossy woman or two to mentor you. It’s time for women to claim their place at the table, in every industry. We can rewrite the rules and create businesses that work for us and our families. But, don’t steer away from a bossy man, especially if he has insight into your male-dominated industry. You are well-served to mentor, and be mentored by, people who know what they want and confidently stride in that direction.
There is a word for people like that.