How I Met My Mentor

It was 2006. I was 21 years old. I worked at North Hollywood Toyota. My ex had just left me. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing in my life.

I was out being a reckless mess. I was sleeping with every woman I could find. I was just being self destructive, trying to get over the pain from losing the love of my life. I had tried to escape from the pain the only way I knew how; by burying the pain under layers of my subconscious mind.

During this time, my friend, whom I had known since I was 16, had been working at a Korean cafe called Modena. Prior to that, he was working at a real estate or investment company, earning slightly under what I was making at the time, six figures. I haven’t hung out with him for the longest time, so I had decided to visit.

The first day I went to the cafe, I ordered pat bing soo, which is like shaved ice with ice cream, with a drink on the side. My bill came. It was $15. I didn’t care at all about money, or anything at all in life, so I just gave him a $100 tip.

After I had tipped him, he was shocked. He told me that if I ever wanted anything, to come back and everything would be on the house. Surprised and intrigued, I took him up on that offer and came by to his work nearly every day.

I had this Louis Vuitton briefcase, so whenever I was there, all the Korean women would just eye me and quite literally stare, as if they wanted me. I never talked to any of them, due to my insecurities with speaking the Korean language. I was and still am just absolutely horrible at it. I sound like a White American pretending he knows how to speak Korean. The key word here is pretend.

Well, anyway, one day I had come to Modena. I saw my friend sitting at one of the tables as he was doing some exercise on a tablet pc (yes, they existed in 2006, surprisingly) made by Motion in Computing, while he sat next to another fellow who was wearing purple sweats. I walked up to the table, and I said hello, in an excited voice. Immediately, the person who he had sat next to placed his finger up to his lip and shh’d me.

Surprisingly, I shut up and sat there, calmly, waiting for my friend to finish this exercise. As my friend finished the exercise, we all started chatting. It was quite unusual, as the person who was talking to my friend was extremely charismatic, let alone wiser than anyone I met. He showed me some exercises on his computer that had improved my reading, as he was trying to figure out my cognitive abilities.

As the night had passed, he said he wanted to meet again. The following day we met, and eventually he became my mentor. For the next few months, he helped me learn how to see life in a new perspective, read twice as fast as I already did, become both spiritually and physically in tune with who I was, build influence, and raise my charisma. One time, I had developed my charisma to a level that was so far off the charts, that when I had walked out of my building at work to smoke a cigarette at the end of the service bay, everyone moved their feet in at the exact same time.

It was unreal.

Eventually, I came to find that he was earning $13 million a year at the age of 26, a consultant for Sony, heavily involved in the release of blu-ray, and financially supporting many people and businesses.

Considering that I have only had three mentors in my life, this man, Mr. Richard J. Kim, had taught me most of the skills and philosophies I know today.

Mentors are amazing blessings, yet hard to come by.  They often believe in you more than you believe in yourself.  My newest mentor James Altucher is such an inspiration, he helped give me the courage to write my first book, The Etiquette of Social Media: How to Connect and Respond to Others in the World of Social Media.  Not only did he help inspire me write my book, he extended out a helping hand to lift me up everything when I was stuck in a rut.

Originally posted on Quora.

Leonard Kim is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree. At InfluenceTree, Leonard and his team teach you how to build your (personal or business) brand, get featured in publications and growth hack your social media following.

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