Jeff Imelt, from GE once quoted Mentors as “People you trust to provide feedback and advice”.
Mentors opens doors, are generous of spirit and time and best of all, a mentor’s time is free.
It all started in 1998 when I met a fellow called Bob Henson – ‘a good ole boy from Birmingham, Alabama’ as he described himself. Bob helped me to design my national sales team since Bob had the right skills. Ever since that moment, Bob became my mentor over the years.
In our careers, we all need a Coach, Mentor or board member to help us meet our goals.
Bob is not only a mentor but a role model. He has displayed courage time and time again and has risked everything to well… get what he wants. The difference with Bob and some of my other heroes is that well, Bob is 80 years old. Most people at this age start to slow down – not Bob. He had one objective in mind and he pushed his limits.
Now the full story and video interview can be found here www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecZmpi3vTis and www.paul-renaud.com/define-the-word-mentor-bob-henson/ but let me give you a shorter version of the story.
Bob worked for an International agency doing telecommunications consulting work across the world, which allowed him and his wife Phyllis to travel to some countries that were not as easily accessible, like North Korea and Cuba. By 2011 he had visited 200 countries. He then decided to ‘Go for it’ and attempt to visit all the countries in the world!
According to The Travelers’ Century Club, “there are 324 ‘territories’ or ‘sovereign states’, certain ‘exclaves’ and island groups. Although some are not actually countries in their own right, they have been considered because they are removed from parent, either geographically, politically or ethnologically”.
Bob’s challenge: Visiting the last country on his list in order to hit the magic number of 324 – probably the most violent country: Libya.
They both hid from armed Libyan soldiers behind the backseat of a 1976 Mercedes coupe at the Libya-Egypt border. Not too many Americans find themselves trying to enter Libya at midnight as you can imagine.
At the border, the tension immediately increased. Phyllis wore a scarf on her head to conceal her white hair. Bob’s must have been visible to the soldiers, he said. They slouched behind the seat. Together, they prayed.
Armann stepped out of the car and explained the Hensons’ desire to enter the country. After a few minutes of negotiating, Armann told Bob to pay the soldiers $1,000. They got in.
Their destination—the capital city of Tobruk—was about 100 miles west of the border. A few miles into the country, Armann veered the car to the shoulder, unrolled his prayer mat, grabbed his Quran and prayed. Bob and Phyllis who are Christian, prayed with him.
“When even the driver is nervous, you can imagine how we felt,” Phyllis said. “I was physically shaking most of the time inside Libya.”
They exited the car just one time to use the restroom at a hotel near the airport. They stood in the lobby of the hotel for a few minutes and mostly kept their heads down. They tried talking to people, but they were not received incredibly well.
“It just didn’t feel right being there,” Bob said. “Traveling so much, you get a certain feeling that you know it’s not safe. So we decided it was time to leave.” A couple miles out of the city, they heard an explosion. They later learned a car bomb had exploded just feet from the hotel they had just left.
Back at the Egyptian border, the tension increased again. Only one of the soldiers they had paid earlier in the night was still working. Armann negotiated for two hours. In the end, Bob had to pay $2,000 in cash to leave the country (the original amount the soldiers asked for was $5,000). Hitting a record of 324 countries carried a price tag and the adrenaline rush.
“When we crossed back into Egypt, I cannot tell you the peace we felt,” Bob says. “It was a weight off our shoulders. When we truly realized we were safe, we realized we had done it. 324! It was done!”
What would compel a 80 year old fellow and his wife to put themselves in danger and cross into Libya to finally ‘tick the box’ in order to meet the goal?…Passion, Courage, Fate or ‘ it just felt like the thing to do’… as Bob said. Besides Bob and Phyllis are the Real Deal. They are probably 2 out of 8-10 people in the world to have accomplished this important milestone!
So, the next time your dream goal seems unattainable in your 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, think again. Remember that one’s dream takes time, tenacity and courage and more importantly it’s never too late to do what you want to do!
As Bob, Muhammad Ali and Bethany Hamilton in my previous articles have shown us you can ‘always win’ no matter the risk, the obstacles or the danger.
What have you planned that is exciting and gutsy? What have you always wanted to do?
Finally, ask yourself…How bad do you want it?
See Bob’s short 3 minute interview here www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hUaK277QS4
Check out my TEDx talk! You can find it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe_3VLI-LEA