Regardless of what industry you are in – fashion, law, technology, consumer goods or services – sometimes we need a little help from our friends.

And that is a hard thing to admit because we all tend to think that if we just work hard enough, and persist through obstacles, we can achieve our goals.  But, if you sit down and really think about it, we each have people in our lives that support us along our journeys, whether you consciously connect those dots or not.

And to truly succeed, I think you need three different types of people to help you along your way: a Mentor, an Advocate and a Sponsor.  Let me explain the difference:

  • A Mentor is someone who gives you advice and input.  She is someone you can turn to for assistance when you are at a cross-roads or just need to talk through challenges and obstacles.
  • An Advocate is some who vocally supports you or your product.  She is always looking for opportunities to talk you up, and get others excited about you or your product.
  • A Sponsor is someone who vouches for you, usually monetarily or reputationally.   Your sponsor is someone who puts their name on the line as a guarantee so to speak, to help convince others to take a chance on you or that you deserve a certain opportunity.

Now, it is possible that you might have all of the above roles fulfilled by a single person or by two people.  But, it is rare that a single person can excel at all three for you at the same time.   And it is better to have more than one person on your personal team, or “executive board” because diversification not only gives you a better chance at success, but gives you a deeper reach.

So, do you have MAS in your life?  If not, why not?  What you do to cultivate and develop your support team is just as important as the quality of product or service you provide, and in my experience, will determine the extent of your success.