Their lesson. My Failure!

by: Adam
Adam Oldfield, Kyle Slaz

Heading to our fitting of a new custom suit

I mentor (and teach) as my “give back” to students at Mohawk College and to Summer Students in the Cambridge/Kitchener area, and have been doing so for the past 8 years. I don’t look at myself as someone that is successful, but my years of failure are worth a lot of money. Over a million to be exact!

I can share with you that there are some feel good situations that encourage me to continue my “sharing” and giving my insight to these students. The one key encouragement to me, is that they actually learn and grow from the discussions and teachings that we have together.

My most recent feel good stories include two students from different situations.

Meet Kyle – a timid, shy and nervous kid. He comes into my class on the first day sitting on his own. When he spoke, he had his head down and seemed so unsure as to who he was. He stammered, stuttered and truly, I thought immediately…he’s a lost cause.

At the end of the class, he comes to me and shares that he has a disability. I thanked him for sharing his ailment with me; but to be honest, I really didn’t care as it has nothing to do with why I’m teaching, and shouldn’t be a problem with his assignments. NOTE:  I don’t like to get too personal with my staff or students. It’s not that I don’t care, I just don’t have the time to understand their personal issues. Business is exactly that. It’s about making profit. Watch the Godfather, enough said.

The course is 14 weeks. Week 3, Kyle has a clean looking haircut. Week 5, nice dress shirt, and business pants. Looking professional and ready to learn. Week 13, a college networking event and Kyle is one of 150 students to stand and give his 45-second elevator pitch. Kills it! Focused, delivered with confidence and managed to display his professional demeanor like a true experienced businessman. Week 14; final presentation.  Kyle and his partner present their last assignment, a radio sales campaign, to my client. Home Run! Closes the deal like he was Donald Trump opening and selling another condo in downtown, NY. My client turns to me and says, “That kid was meant for sales”.  I didn’t tell him that 14 weeks earlier,  he was a nervous, insecure wreck.  Amazingly…this kid is my inspiration more than may be to him. I was extremely proud.  So much so, I got my driver to pick him up, and I bought the kid a new custom suit, shirt, a few ties and took him for lunch! When we finished, I made a few phone calls and he has some interviews as well.

Second example. Masod from Khandor Skateboards. A summer student that was getting his business off the ground with a purpose and interest to give back to the community. Each bi-weekly meeting, we would all give him support and ideas to help his business flourish. He took each suggestion to heart, and executed most of the agreements. The best part was that I recently heard he sold 1,000 skateboards and continues to build his business to this day well after the program. Talk about amazing! I was just glowing with happiness that the kid has built something from nothing.

My moral of this story is that all business owners need to be mentors. Giving back our knowledge and experience is worth way more than writing a cheque. You can’t put a price on the millions I’ve lost in my lifetime of business since 2001.  I’m the biggest risk taker you’ll meet, with one vision. Making profit. However, the best investment I can give to any new business start-up is my thoughts, experience of failure and the taste of what success can be. I’m not there myself, but when I do reach it, I can finally rest!