McCadden: Three Essential People You Need Throughout Your Career

by Kyle Clapham
Shawn Headshot Accountant

When I share with contractors and other business owners that I retired at the early age of 61, almost every one of them asks me how I was able to retire so young.

At first, I would tell them I started saving for retirement at 21 years old and made good investments along the way with my savings. But, after thinking about it, saving the money wasn’t the real reason I was able to do so. Upon reflection, I came to realize that my success had a lot to do with the people I surrounded myself with throughout my career as I ran several businesses. If you would like to retire early or just maximize your retirement when you are ready, I suggest you try to have these three people in your life.

A Good Mentor

A mentor is typically a person who is older and already more successful than you, someone you can learn from. Mentors have been there and done that. The right mentor has made the mistakes you might make along your path. By interacting with and getting to know your mentor, he or she can share their mistakes with you so perhaps you can avoid those same mistakes.

A mentor can also share with you the hard-earned lessons they learned from their mistakes. By finding the right mentor, you can speed up your progress, and you will spend less money and time fixing your mistakes, essentially giving you more time and money to build your business as well as your equity.

I found it to be advantageous to have several mentors at various stages. I am not necessarily recommending more than one mentor at a time; but, rather as things change and perhaps as your mentor moves on in their own life and retirement, you need to find new mentors to take their place.

You may be able to find a mentor who will help you at no cost, but a good mentor is a busy person and may already be mentoring someone else. In that case you may need to pay your mentor for the value they bring to you and your business. Paying a mentor might seem an expensive investment. However, if you find the right person, the value they bring can be priceless. After all, with the right mentor, you will likely be far more successful and therefore able to afford to pay the mentor and retire early.

A Peer You Respect

I suggest you also find a person, a peer, who is equal to you, someone to exchange ideas with. Likely this will be someone who is also in the remodeling industry, perhaps in a different market than you and your business. Again, like a mentor, you may engage with several peers over the course of your career for any number of reasons. Finding the right peer to engage with can be difficult.

My participation in a trade association helped me find and get to know my “equals” before I engaged with them in such a relationship. By attending local NARI meetings consistently for many years, I came to know some great people. And, over time, I developed great peer bantering relationships with them. Each had their own strengths benefiting me and, in turn, I feel I was able to share my strengths to help them.

A key characteristic of a peer bantering relationship is trust. Both you and your peer should agree on terms (rules) for your relationship. What can each of you share of your interactions and insights about the other, and what must remain confidential. As much as you should expect unconditional trust from your bantering peer, you too must offer the same level of trust for the relationship to work and to sustain it. Don’t just assume this trust. Make it a required discussion before you invest too deeply in the relationship and certainly before you take the risk of revealing and sharing sensitive information.

A Person to Coach

One thing I found made me feel good and helped keep me energized was helping others achieve in similar ways as me, as well as seeing the joys and benefits they got from my coaching. Again, attending my local NARI meetings became a great place to find aspiring young remodelers I could help. A lot of the interactions happened during the social hour before the meeting started. This made for a safe atmosphere to get to know each other and, by attending regularly and interacting with the same people consistently, many relationships eventually extended beyond just the meetings.

Over the years, I found that the best and most rewarding coaching relationships were with remodelers who were willing to admit their mistakes. Often, when I first met one of these remodelers, they would share with me their plans to do something within their businesses. Sometimes I would hear something I knew wasn’t the way to go and was likely to fail or have unintended consequences. Of course, I would always offer my advice to do it differently.

Many of these individuals still went and did it their way, only to end up failing more times than not. However, the ones who came back to me to admit their mistakes were the ones I was able and willing to help the most. They are also today the ones who became largely successful and still attend NARI meetings, so they too can coach an inspiring young remodeler.

The purpose of sharing this strategy for success and early retirement is so you too can potentially enjoy your retirement while you’re still young enough to do so. Another purpose: Help improve the industry as well as the lives of those who work in it. As much as developing relationships with these three key people can help cause your success, just think of the legacy you can leave behind if you learn from others and then, in turn, share what you have learned with the next generation. QR

McCadden is a speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler with more than 35 years of experience. He can be reached at

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