Success & Goal Achievement
How to Find a Mentor & the Best Leaders to Emulate

If you’re looking for the ultimate shortcut to success, then your #1 priority should be to learn how to find a mentor or a great leader to emulate. This one trick will help you fast forward through years of:

  • reading success & leadership books
  • attending seminars
  • and maybe even therapy

It gets better. By finding a mentor, you could gain:

  • better leadership skills
  • better people skills
  • decisiveness under pressure
  • become a world class salesman or saleswoman
  • learn the secret to get the body of your dreams

Wait! Doesn’t it take years to master these skills? Nope. All of this is possible for you to obtain faster than you could imagine.

If you’re looking for a direct highway to success, just do this one thing:

Study, follow, read, watch videos about, and surround yourself with mentors and leaders who ALREADY have the characteristics you want.

Here’s how this works. It’s been proven that humans adopt the tendencies and behaviors of those around us. We all tend to mimic the people we like, and we do it subconsciously. Scientists say we do this because it helps us to survive. People like and trust us more if our behaviors are similar to theirs (so we boost social interactions by mimicry). But the “why we do it” isn’t important. The fact is we are amazing at mimicry. Study a great leader and very soon, you’ll find yourself mimicking their:

  • gestures
  • how they handle themselves – including posture & confidence
  • speech patterns – accent/pronunciation, pacing, & intonation
  • how they relate to people
  • their success habits and disciplines
  • even their happiness and general attitude toward life

All of this can be mimicked and adopted.

Angry at the world?
You could sidestep years of therapy by finding a mentor who is supremely positive and happy.

Want to be a better speaker?
You could hire a speech coach and spend thousands, or instead, you might try this. Select your favorite TED talk and watch it 40x. You don’t have to intentionally look for the speakers hand gestures, the timing in which she delivers her best points, or how she connects with the crowd. Your brain will do it subconsciously.

It’s for this same reason that my mentor, Jim Rohn, said to very careful when you select your friends. The power of proximity and mimicking effects work when you’re surrounded by them as well. In fact, according to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.

The question is, WHO to choose as a mentor, and if it’s not a famous person, how to find them.

3 Easy Tips for Finding a Mentor

Many people realize they need a mentor, but don’t know how to find one. Finding a mentor could take a lot of work. It may even take a bit of a financial commitment, especially if you’re trying to attract a millionaire mentor. But you don’t have to spend thousands to find a mentor. People frequently ask me how you ask someone to be your mentor. The truth is, I never asked any of my millionaire mentors to “be my mentor.” I simply studied them, mimicked their success, and requested advice whenever I could.

Entrepreneurs – Your #1 Trap Finding a Mentor

If you’re in business, there are so many great leaders you could read about, study, and mirror.

  • Steve Jobs
  • Jeff Bezos
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Mark Cuban

The list could go on an on. But I think there’s a trap in selecting a business leader to emulate. As I’ve gotten older and matured, I’ve learned how to avoid this trap and want to share my discovery with you here. It all starts with the story of the first great leader I aspired to be like.

The First Leader I Strove to Emulate

You may know I am the former publisher of SUCCESS Magazine. During my time there, I enjoyed the exclusive opportunity to interview guys and gals who are billionaires and who have built world-class companies. If I am being candid with you; after spending time with many of them, my walkaway conclusion was… They don’t seem THAT smart… Heck, if THEY can do this, no doubt you can… and you should! I’ve found over and over, success is not about your intellect. It’s highly driven by the key success principle revealed in this article:

Find a model of what you want and then do what they have done.

Well, Richard Branson was my model. The dude just exudes, fun, coolness, am I right? And he’s a billionaire who has his own private island… and spends a lot of his time wake boarding with supermodels on his back. He’s even been on Shark Tank!

Come on, how sweet is that?! So Richard was my model.

Until I got to know him.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy. And he IS cool. But, after getting up close and personal with the dynamics of his life… I realized how different we are. Richard thrives on complexity. He likes having 400 plates spinning and doesn’t mind if a few fall.

He and Virgin have 125 lawsuits pending at any one time.

Lawsuits as chairman of the board, he is named in personally. It’s part of the game he is in. He doesn’t mind it at all. Under the gun of all that, he’s still cool as a cat. Now 125 lawsuits would send me to the loony bin! I realized then how much I didn’t want to be Richard Branson.

That setup works for him—really well (obviously). Not me. I realized then how much I thrive on simplicity. I like uncomplicated. I like staying out of the courtroom and the press. I thrive on doing a few things, really, really well. I thrive on delivering excellence… in everything I do. Which means, for me, it’s better to do fewer things. Fewer things, done excellently = happiness for me. However, and this is the key lesson here, Richard is still an incredible resource of inspiration for me. Not because I want his results, but for many of his brilliant methods for creating those results.

  • I want his steadfast and unshakable focus.
  • I like how he makes his employees the highest priority (over customers and shareholders).
  • I admire his willingness to try anything and laugh at failure if it doesn’t work.
  • I respect his willingness to take big risks, yet always protect the downside.
  • I like how he always makes “will this be fun” a criterion for whether he does a business deal or not.
  • I think it’s awesome how he always positions his endeavors as the underdog, fighting injustice for the little guy against the Goliath who has created an injustice.
  • And more.

So when it comes to finding a mentor or emulating great leaders, here is the first lesson I have learned:

Don’t compare yourself to the results of others, but find inspiration in their methods of success.

Don’t wish for someone else’s results, instead work on gaining the mindset, philosophy, behavior, habits, and attributes they possess to create those kinds of results… to accomplish whatever YOU want—no matter how complicated or how simple you want your life or business to be.

Choose the Right Types of Leaders and Mentors

Now that we’ve established that you shouldn’t try to emulate every aspect of your mentor’s life, I want to share a couple more traps I’ve fallen into…

#1 – Emulating only famous people
#2 – Emulating only one type of leader

Earlier in this article, I mentioned choosing leaders like Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Mark Cuban as mentors. While these are excellent choices for any high achiever to follow, you may see a couple of problems… all these leaders are entrepreneurs, and they’re all famous – meaning most people reading this don’t know Oprah or Mark personally.

You actually want a variety of leaders, mentors, and coaches in your life. And some of them should be people you even know!

Let me help summarize and organize the different role models and coaches you want to consider obtaining and their purpose into a clear and actionable plan for you. I’ll outline them briefly now so that you can design and develop your coaching team. Okay, first of all, are your two sets of advisors—your inner circle and your outer circle.


Your inner circle is something you are probably already aware of and already utilize on a regular basis. These are the people you work with, or the people who work for you. These are the members of your leadership team or other vendors, suppliers and partners. These people have a vested interest in your success. YOUR success IS their success. You want to make sure you know exactly who they are and are utilizing them to the fullest. These people are essentially paid to advise you, BUT you have to often pull the advice out of them and then listen.

But be warned, often times their advice is biased or guarded.

They are either driving an agenda or are afraid to be candid as you are the hand that feeds them and they were raised to never, under any circumstances, bite it. There is usually VERY LITTLE value or incentive for your inner circle to give you the sometimes brutal, but often needed feedback and advice you really need. Oh, I know you can tell them how it is safe for them to be honest and forthright for you, but it ain’t gonna happen. Understand their position—they have very little to gain and everything to lose telling you something you might not like hearing.


THAT is why you need an outer circle of advisors. Smart, experienced and insightful people who have NO vested interest in your success. While they might WANT to see you succeed, if you do, they are not going to gain anything. And they are not beholden to you, meaning if you don’t like their feedback, it doesn’t put any compensation or business agenda in jeopardy for them. These people are fully unencumbered to let you have it and just tell you like they see it. This is a great group of advisors for you to go to work on putting together.


The next group I suggest you put together are role models—and here’s where you want to be careful NOT to choose one from just one area of life. You want a role model for each of the eight areas on your Wheel of Life. The Wheel of Life is something I outline in the Living Your Best Year Ever goal achievement system. The eight areas are:

  1. Physical, meaning your health
  2. Relationship, meaning your significant other
  3. Family, meaning your kids and extended family members
  4. Spiritual
  5. Financial
  6. Business
  7. Lifestyle
  8. Mental, meaning your personal growth and development

What I suggest you have is a role model for each area. This is someone whom you look up to, someone whom you want to live up to. Having this person as a reference will help you make better choices and behavior decisions, and if you study them, you will become like them. For instance, you probably figured out that my role model for business is Richard Branson. I might think, what choice would Branson make in this situation? How would he handle this problem? How would he communicate this to his team? Etc. And there is another key point, you don’t have to be personal friends with your role models.

Find someone you relate with, then learn all you can about him or her so they can be a reference in philosophical thinking and decision making. One person might encompass several areas but it is unlikely one person will be the example you want to live up to in all eight areas. It’s good to have different role models for different areas. I can tell you, every day I am using one of my role models to guide me in my decision making and behavior improvement. Whether it is my marriage role model, my fitness role model, my lifestyle role model, etc. It’s a really powerful guidance system. I highly recommend you design this for yourself.


The last two are your actual hired coaches. People whom you pay to train you. The two categories are:

  1. Season focused coach
  2. and Skill focused coaches

We are always going through different seasons. Depending on the season you are going through you should have a really great coach to help see you through it.

Seasons might be things like: the start-up phase of a new business—get a great business startup coach. Maybe you are going through a difficult marriage season—get a great coach to help you. Maybe you are dealing with some mid-life crisis issues. Hey, people do! A great coach can be very useful to you. God forbid, maybe you have to liquidate your business or deal with a child going through drug abuse, whatever. These are real life situations and you can prevent a lot of further problems and save a lot of time, money and anguish if you hire a great coach to help you.

The last group is Skill focused coaches.

I always recommend that you double down on a particular skill every quarter. For example, skills like Public speaking, marketing copywriting, time management/productivity, sales, recruiting, persuasive communication, financial literacy, etc. Whatever skill is most important to you accomplishing your number one goal for the year; go for mastery on that skill.

Now you don’t HAVE to go out and hire someone specifically. You can go and obtain the tools and training materials someone might have available. You can be well mentored through books, seminars and audio and video programs. Additionally, your coach doesn’t even need to be alive. I have been using Abraham Lincoln as my leadership mentor this quarter. Alive or dead, in person or through materials, those factors don’t matter. What matters is you pick a key skill you are going to double down on, pick a mentor and attack it.

And if you haven’t signed up for FREE daily mentoring with me, join me and 350,000+ other high achievers who kickstart their day with Darren Daily. Click here to sign up here for free.

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