How a 9-figure founder stepped from entrepreneur to CEO

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Mike Fata, in his personal phrases, was a college dropout, didn’t have a flowery diploma and was fairly poor rising up.

However none of that stopped him. By the point he was 21 years outdated in 1998, he had co-founded one of many world’s first hemp seed corporations. Over the following 20 years, he grew Manitoba Harvest Hemp Meals right into a profitable enterprise that was turning over $100 million in annual income, being distributed throughout 20 nations and using over 300 individuals. 

Then in 2019, Fata’s brainchild was acquired by the American pharmaceutical big, Tilray, for the “life-changing” sum of $419 million. His liquidity occasion wasn’t solely a second of happiness, nonetheless. That 12 months, he grieved the lack of his enterprise, marriage, and mom in a single go—and within the course of was impressed to mentor others. 

In the present day, Fata advises founders on their development journey via his podcast, one-to-one teaching and a e-newsletter. He’s additionally distilled all of his learnings in his upcoming e book, Grow: 12 Unconventional Lessons for Becoming an Unstoppable Entrepreneur.

Over time, he’s discovered that the largest problem many founders face—himself included—isn’t rising an concept right into a profitable multimillion-dollar enterprise, however relatively, rising extra personally into the function of a pacesetter. 

“I’m a born entrepreneur, however I’m made CEO,” he beams in solidarity. Wanting again, the 9-figure-founder tells Fortune there are two issues he did to step up.

1. Examine what makes good management—and observe that

Oscar Wilde famously wrote that “imitation is the sincerest type of flattery” and because it seems, it’s additionally a great way of studying lead.  

Fata boasts that he’s learn over 500 enterprise books that spotlight what makes an excellent CEO. He then “experimented” with the varied success methods and high-performance habits detailed in books like “getting up at 4 a.m. to go to the fitness center to prime the physique and get longer hours within the day” till he discovered what works for him.

Past the self-help guides and chief biographies, founders may even study extra in regards to the administration practices which can be usually taught in enterprise college, like governance.

“I’ve discovered that construction drives operate,” he says. “For those who put an excellent construction right into a enterprise, that can actually assist to hurry up the execution of a strategic plan.”

He’s now a self-described “governance professional” and advises boards on the matter—and he says that studying performed a bit half in that. 

The three books Fata recommends entrepreneurs learn, proper now, to turn into higher CEOs:

  • Good to Nice by Jim Collin—Bbecause it “teaches how corporations that obtain sustained greatness have disciplined individuals, disciplined thought, and disciplined motion.”
  • The right way to Win Pals and Affect Folks by Dale Carnegie—As a result of it “teaches one of the simplest ways to get somebody to do one thing by interesting to their self-interest.”
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear—As a result of it “teaches how small habits, persistently practiced, can result in outstanding outcomes over time.” 

2. Be taught from leaders in actual life 

On prime of emulating the leaders you admire in books, Fata recommends shadowing leaders in actual life via mentorship. 

Over the course of his profession, he has had each conventional mentors within the type of CEOs and peer-to-peer mentors who had been entrepreneurs in his business—however a 12 months or two forward of him of their development journey. 

“I received the chance to study from them by seeing how they ran their strategic planning, how they arrange their administration conferences, what their bonus and compensation construction seems to be like for his or her crew, and different issues they did to incentivize the enterprise,” he says.

Fata says the extra uncovered you’re to real examples of what good administration seems to be like, the higher. You may then decide and selected which practices would work properly at your agency. 

The right way to discover a mentor

Choosing up a management e book is fairly straightforward and accessible. Sadly, discovering a mentor isn’t as straightforward as downloading an e-book or popping into your native library.

Discovering a mentor requires placing your self on the market and creating a relationship with somebody earlier than you possibly can even ask them whether or not they’d take into account mentoring you.

Occasions that different leaders in your business are more likely to be at, like awards, conventions and commerce exhibits, are “the very best place to fish for a mentor.” In the meantime, in case you’ve not fairly received the braveness to pluck up a dialog with a stranger, then LinkedIn is your greatest wager.

However earlier than leaping the gun and asking somebody that’s spectacular to be your mentor, Fata recommends putting up an precise friendship first.

“Simply because somebody’s profitable, doesn’t imply that they’re going to be an excellent mentor for you. You might want somebody that’s solely a few years extra profitable than you,” he says whereas including that “that match is absolutely necessary.”

Solely by creating a relationship with a possible mentor after quite a few conversations, will whether or not they’ll be the suitable match for you—and visa versa.

As Fata says: “Mentorship is a give-and-take relationship—in most profitable ones which have longevity to them, the mentor is getting one thing from the mentee as a lot because the mentee is getting one thing from a mentor.”

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