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MaryEllen Tribby: The Fab Five – Men Who Changed My Course and Helped Me Achieve Business Success (Part I)


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“You’re crazy. I am still sleeping at 7:30! Why would you set up a daily meeting that early?” Ted said. “You’re the president of the company… Why don’t you do it on your schedule?”

Ted’s reaction was not an unusual one when I mentioned to colleagues that I had a standing phone meeting with my top copywriter and marketing strategist at 7:30 in the morning Monday through Friday while I was president of a large financial publishing company. As a matter of fact, we had our morning conversations for about three years straight.

Sure, like Ted, most people thought I was crazy.

However, I was well aware of the benefits these morning meetings offered to my business. But just as important, this one-on-one time was deeply critical to my own knowledge and expertise. More than just marketing strategy discussions, these meetings were personal mentoring sessions with one of the smartest and most successful direct response experts in the world.

Did I HAVE to do this? Of course not!

Did I WANT to do this? Of course I did!

What most people to this day just don’t get is that 7:30 in the morning was the perfect time for me. That’s because any time when I could get specific, useful advice and information that would improve my career and business was the perfect time.

The Power of Collective Brilliance

I’ve always been a pretty serious person when it comes to building my knowledge base. I grew up in a fairly modest environment where my parents struggled to maintain a middle class lifestyle.

I could see how having an education could help me create a different sort of life for myself. So I set my sights on getting a college education. I knew my parents wouldn’t be able to help me much – if at all. So I started saving for college from the time I was 10 years old. I ended up paying every cent of my own college education.

When I got to college, I did not skip classes to hang out with my friends. I didn’t blow off class by sleeping in because I was out late the night before. Instead, I soaked up every word my brain could hold during the day. At night, I reviewed my notes and rewrote them so that the next day I was ready for whatever was coming next.

No Regrets – Only Gratitude

I did not regret giving up parties or late-night socializing sessions. I was making a time and money investment in myself. I knew that I would be able to put every ounce of knowledge I accumulated to work for myself at some point in the future. Eventually, I was certain, the library in my mind would make me a lot of money.

So it will be no surprise to you that I refused to stop learning even after I’d finished school. I make it a point to try to learn something from every person I meet and every experience I have. I seek out the people who could help me grow my business or advance my career.

And I have to say, the lessons I’ve learned from these personal success mentors have had a profound impact on my career and life.

Over and over again throughout my career, I’ve discovered the truth in the old saw “two heads are better than one.” When I’ve had the chance to team up with or learn from the successful people in my industry, I’ve been able to skyrocket my knowledge, my earnings, and my business revenues.

Here are a few examples…

Success Mentor #1: Dick Benson

From the start of my business career I attended conferences and seminars as often as possible. In New York City, there was a plethora to choose from. In 1985, when I saw that Dick Benson – a legend in the world of direct response marketing – was holding a very intimate roundtable, I knew I had to attend.

Well, wouldn’t you know it? We had recently gotten a new VP of Human Resources where I was working at the time. She wanted to show the higher ups that she could save our company a boatload of money. She thought that $500 for a two-hour session was excessive and would not approve the expense.

This was my first corporate job out of college. I was making a whopping $12,000 a year. But I had a gut feeling that meeting Dick Benson would have a powerful effect on my life.

Instead of missing the seminar, I paid for it myself. That two-hour session changed the course of my career.

Sure, I had read every book that Dick Benson had written. In a sense, I’d already read much of what he had to say. But when you are able to ask a guru questions that pertain to your business and your life specifically, you will find that the advice takes on new meaning… and that you can more easily take action and implement the advice you have learned.
That is exactly what I did.

I took one little idea I’d learn from Dick back to my employer. The idea was to include an 800 number on renewal offers. Up until that point, we only included a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) in the letters we sent to potential donors. That one little idea brought in so much incremental revenue that within eight months I was promoted and my salary jumped to $20,000 a year.

But going to see Dick Benson was not only life-changing in that it helped boost my salary and advance my career. It taught me the tremendous value in finding advice from already-successful business people… and implementing that advice in my own life.

Check back next week for the other 4!

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