How mentoring can take you to new heights

When it comes to being in a mentoring relationship, there’s a fine line between accountability and pressure. That’s one lesson — out of many — that Jeremiah Panlilio, BA, learned from his mentoring relationship with Adrian George, CFP, TEP, an MDRT member from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

“When someone’s not pressured, you can thrive more,” Panlilio said. “Your chance of thriving is greater because there’s no set quotas. It’s just, follow the guidelines and get to work.”

His mentor agrees. “There was no pressure to all of a sudden flip the switch and be there,” he said. “But there was accountability to make sure that he was eventually going to move the dial from one side over to the other.”

George also believes mentors don’t have some magical formula that gets their mentees to MDRT qualification.

“It wasn’t so much that I have some secret nugget that could shorten Jeremiah’s path. It was more about focusing on where he wanted to go,” George said. “And then avoiding the distractions that might make that process take longer, as opposed to a shortcut. My role wasn’t to try to shorten a two-year trip to one year, but to hopefully make a two-year trip not take five.”

Both men are natives of Calgary and had crossed paths before forming a mentoring relationship. Panlilio had heard George speak at industry events, including MDRT meetings, and was “blown away.”

“I felt like this was someone I could really learn a lot from,” Panlilio said. “I find if you want to fly with the eagles, you’ve got to hang with the eagles. He’s an eagle for me.”

Panlilio reached out and the two formally began a mentoring relationship in November 2019. While he does things like assign and review homework, George wanted to encourage his mentee to take the lead throughout their relationship — contrary to what some might expect from a three-time Top of the Table member.

“One of the differentiators in being able to set up how we work together was Jeremiah really understanding from the get-go that this is mentee-driven,” George said. “I’m not his business coach. I’m not here to tell him what to do. Jeremiah had to really own where he wanted to be.”

George had been approached by other would-be mentees who he turned down because it became clear that they weren’t willing to put in the work.

“I had one person ask me, ‘Could you please write my entire business plan, so I can do exactly what you do?’ Nope. That’s not going to happen.”

However, Panlilio does take George’s insights and advice very seriously, with the hope that he’ll be able to follow his mentor’s path into MDRT someday.

“I don’t discard anything he tells me, because the way I look at it is, someone like Adrian is where he is for a reason,” Panlilio said. “They say success leaves clues. So if he’s going to take the time and effort to give you the clues or the format, you as the mentee would be foolish not to act on those things.”

When he’s working with Panlilio, George tries to focus on one thing at a time. He encourages his mentee to keep doing the “bread and butter” parts of his practice, but to spend just one day a week — or 20% of his time — trying something new like targeting a niche market. That choice was a relief to Panlilio, who was conscious of the need to continue to put food on the table and not just blow up his business for the sake of qualifying for MDRT.

“I know that Jeremiah is willing to push past his comfort zone boundaries,” George said. “When I ask him to do something, I know he’s going to get it done.”

The men met every two weeks, although Panlilio was always welcome to reach out with questions or concerns.

“I’m sure Adrian’s encountered these things before, so it’s easy for me to just reach out to ask, ‘What do I do next?’” Panlilio said.

And George, for his part, will always consider himself one of Panlilio’s biggest cheerleaders.

“I’m really excited to see Jeremiah blow past whatever he thought was possible before, and what was impossible become his new normal,” George said. “I don’t think anybody gets to where they are, at whatever level of success, entirely on their own.”

Want to learn more about the MDRT Mentoring Program? Click here

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