A good mentor is invaluable.

A good mentor is invaluable.

Some 19 years ago, when I was 31 years old and my landscaping company was doing about $1.5 million in annual sales, I naively thought I had this whole running-a-business thing figured out. I had ten gleaming trucks on the road, a hard-working team, and an expanding client list. We were growing year over year and racking up awards, with seemingly nowhere to go but up.

In short, I was pretty proud of myself. So when the news broke that Clay Mathile, a Dayton-area resident who had bought the pet food company Iams for $1.2 million in 1982, had now sold his business for $2.3 billion(!), I knew I had to see him. I had met Clay before but I wanted to get to know him better. I had no real agenda in mind save that I knew I could learn from him, and I was confident enough (or foolish enough) to ask for an appointment.

Fortunately Clay was kind enough to agree to see me. In that meeting, I talked excitedly about all my business ideas while Clay sat patiently listening. I thought I was really impressing him, so I went on and on. Finally, after about an hour of this, Clay said, “Marty, that’s really interesting. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take this book and read it and then call my office and we’ll set up a time to meet again.”

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That book was Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It, and it was Clay’s nice way of telling me I had a lot to learn. And boy did I. I devoured the book, and then I met with Clay again. He became an endlessly generous mentor to me, teaching me and business owners all over the country about the principles of professional management through Aileron, the educational organization he founded to help entrepreneurs.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce that Clay and his son, Mike Mathile—an accomplished entrepreneur in his own right—will be joining me on stage at GROW! 2018 for a special keynote session. In a free-ranging conversation, I’ll talk to Clay and Mike about how you transition your company for success. These are two of the sharpest minds in business. Their insights have helped and inspired me enormously, and I know they’ll do the same for you.

Learn more about and register for GROW! 2018 here.

And then stay tuned for some more exciting news this week about what other surprises we have in store at GROW! 2018.

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