Regardless if you are an entrepreneur with a startup or not you will always benefit from good mentors. Mentors play a vital role in our success. Unlike school and university where you learn theory, fundamentals, facts, and specific details from the teachers and professors, your mentors don’t often teach you specifics.
Today, I share with you the story of another great man whom I considered a mentor and often consulted without him ever having offered to be a mentor or for that purpose nor had I asked him to be my mentor.
I mention this to remove the necessity of labeling a person as a mentor but knowing when that person can be considered one.
Dr. Mohammad Hassan Salemi was an Iranian retired medical doctor who had moved with his wife, Dr. Nahid Salemi. from Germany to Spain for their retirement. When I met him first in early 2000 in Spain it was through some friends and mostly because he needed help with some IT matters. On the first visit to his house, he requested a visit at 8:00 am. In southern Spain, this is an unusual time to visit any client. Most people are either still asleep or still getting ready for the day. When I arrived, I was greeted and invited to join him and his wife for breakfast. It was not really a question of whether I would like to, it was a done deal. On the terrace, a full breakfast table was meticulously set as if they were expecting monarchs. China cups and plates, silver cutlery laid out to perfection as you would only see in magazines, and an assortment of bread, cheese, butter, coffee, and Persian tea.
Such hospitality and presentation I had not even seen in the best hotels and above all, I was baffled by why he had even gone to such an extent, as I was there not as a guest but as a service provider and equally aware of the time this could take before we get down to work which could eat into my working time, the expression on my face became obvious and before I even had the chance to pull myself together he had read my face and thoughts. In a very soft voice with a big smile, he said “The day is long. Let’s take a moment to enjoy and start the day on a high note. If you make sure that you start the day with good energy, you are bound to finish it on the same note or even higher. And if you are worried about your time, I am happy to cover your fees for the full time you are here with me.”
As we sat down for breakfast and the housekeeper started serving us tea he said “Breakfast is not just about filling your stomach with food, but it is also about feeling your soul with energy. You have to take time to enjoy all the beautiful things in life, what you taste, touch, and see.”
That was the beginning of a 21-year relationship until last year when he passed away.
Dr. Salemi indirectly was a mentor who taught me how to live life grandeur. Over the years we became friends and our families became friends and over the years without exception, with each visit I was received with the same kind of hospitality. The time was irrelevant. If I arrived at 11:00, then there would have been tea with biscuits on the terrace or in the study. If I arrived at 18:00 then it could have been tea, fruit, and whatever else was relevant as food for that season and time, and if I refused to eat or charge then I would have been loaded with a box of chocolate and a bag full of wine bottles.
He changed my relationship with food even if I was alone. He gave me a totally different understanding of what it is to enjoy the luxuries of life. How you can turn a simple cup of tea into something extraordinary. How the setting of a table can change your mood, appetite, and energy.
In many of my business adventures, questions, and our conversations about investment and so on, he would always encourage me. I don’t ever remember having heard him say “Don’t do this”. His words were always “Trust yourself, you can do. If you have done your homework and your heart says yes then buy that property or car that your heart so desires.”
While it has been just over a year since he passed away, his words and thoughts are alive with me every day and moment of my life. Every breakfast or lunch table that we set. Anything and everything I purchase and anyone I greet today; I remember one person “Dr Mohammad Salemi” a man who told me to live life grandeur and who always encouraged me in anything I wanted to do.