Hardgainers Mistake #10 – No Mentor(s)

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” – Japanese Proverb

“People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy.” – Oliver Goldsmith

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” – Unknown

There is a way to get what you want in a shorter period of time: Find a successful mentor who has already achieved what you want. A common theme among people who are successful with something, whether they have a booming business, have deep and connected relationships, or have a jaw-dropping body, is not luck. It’s because they followed a set of principles and strategies, and those principles and strategies worked. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to find a way to succeed.  Throughout my entire life I have surrounded myself with successful people.

I have always sought out mentors I respect and whose advice I want to absorb. Not all of my mentors have been “famous” or “ultra successful” – most of them are just regular people who have achieved extraordinary success in the area I want to grow in.

In university, I had a spiritual mentor, Bill Underwood, who was the director of a Christian campus ministry called Athletes In Action and I sought him out to make wise decisions and hold me accountable. I didn’t escape university without making small mistakes, but I did make it out of university without making any big mistakes. I contribute that to my spiritual mentor.

When I entered the fitness industry, I had two business mentors to guide my career as a personal trainer. Jeff Russo, the owner of the Edge Fitness Business Consulting and Murray Middlemost, the owner of Phoenix Fitness gyms, taught me all the ins and outs of selling personal training at my gym. They helped me become so confident in my position that I worked on straight commission. I broke club sales records. I grew training departments from a few trainers to over a dozen trainers. I ended up becoming a mentor to my own staff after six years. My success in the gym resulted in buying my own house and driving the car of my dreams by the age of 25. I don’t say this to brag but to inspire and share with you the power of surrounding yourself with positive people who have your best interests at heart. Do you have people like Bill, Jeff and Murray in your life? If not, seek them out, today. Heck, my own father, who is 59-years old, has had mentors in all areas of his life so don’t think this is something just for young guys.  Even my coach, Ben Pakulski, who is by far the most brilliant bodybuilder I know, has a track record of aligning himself with ultra successful people. Let’s take a look at how I built my online fitness business…

When I started my online fitness business I didn’t have a clue, so I hired another mentor, Sandro Salsi, to teach me the ABCs of the internet marketing world. He taught me how to identify my market, how to build a website, how to create my first e-book, how to get traffic to my website and much, much more. As my online business grew I hired new coaches – Eben Pagan, Yanik Silver, Craig Ballantyne, Bedros Keuillian and Dean Jackson. These guys identified my main challenges and gave me single steps to focus on each day.

In fitness I’ve studied under Ian King, Charles Poliquin, Dr. John Berardi and the late Peter Chiasson — whom I consider my four most influential mentors. Hands on, I’ve worked with IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Ben Pakulski and literally transformed my body in less than 12 months working under his expertise.

With my mentors and coaches, I avoided asking for too much information. I avoided asking generic questions. For instance, if you want to improve your body, don’t ask your mentor/coach, “How do I build more muscle?” Instead, simply  ask, “What are three action steps I can take today to improve my muscularity?” Then walk the talk.

Don’t ask your mentor to prove everything before taking action. You don’t employ a mentor/coach to do the research for you. You employ a mentor/coach to access their depth of experience and wisdom. It’s your job to take action and learn from getting it done. 

Tips On Mentoring

1. Know your goal. Do you want to get shredded for a show? Bulk up to 230 pounds? Increase your bench press 50 pounds? Once you identify your goal, find someone who has achieved that goal themselves and has helped others do the same.

2. What kind of mentor do you need? Bill Underwood met me once a week on the third floor of UCC campus. Jeff Russo visited my gym once a month. Eben Pagan held 3-day events a few times a year on the other side of the country. Sandro Salsi met me on the phone once a week for six months. For years, the only fitness information I read was from Dr. John Berardi, Ian King and Charles Poliquin. I didn’t “hire” them but I read their articles and work like you’re reading my work right now. Today, I’ve taken many of their courses and certifications but at first, it was a “free mentorship.” Ben Pakulski allowed me to text him every day with questions, and he cost me an arm and a leg! Mentors can meet you on your terms — some of them will be free, some of them will require you to take out a second mortgage.

3. Ensure your mentor has experience. In the fitness world, it’s pretty easy to become an “overnight expert.” Take your shirt off, show your abs and start a YouTube channel and you’re in business. It’s one thing to help yourself and it’s a whole other thing to help others. If your prospective mentor doesn’t have a track-record of success like this, then move on.


Do you have a mentor or coach? What kind of results have you seen? Have you been running like a lone wolf and have any questions on finding yourself a mentor or coach? Got any questions for me about finding a mentor? Leave them below.

10 Responses to “Hardgainers Mistake #10 – No Mentor(s)”

  1. Vince


    What kind of mentor are you looking for?


    If you want to start an online business, certainly subscribe to http://www.EarlyToRise.com and start reading and studying everything that comes out of that site. Nothing else comes close.

  2. José Ignacio Fernández Rico

    you have to trust and give faith to yours mentors.

    Good job forever Vince in 23 is my happy birthday is near to your opening of you Gym.

    greetings from uruguay.

  3. Michael

    Hey Vince,
    It’s great to read this inspiring article.
    I am currently in university in Canada and involved in AIA myself, so it’s great to be able to make that connection with you.
    I would like to start my own business this year and work on it this summer. Are there any suggestions you have for me? Fitness would not be an option right now, but in general, any guidance you could give me? About mentors, how would I identify the right person?

  4. Astro

    Thanks Vince
    Nothing new here for me but I am amazed how far i have strayed from the above principles!
    Good reminder

  5. Barney Vincelette

    I think you mentioned that your father is going for his PhD. Everything you said applies to achieving this. Here is what I want to add if this is so. Tell him that when he goes to defend his dissertation, which will happen sooner than he thinks, remember that at the defense, the committee members are now students and he is the professor, expert, and instructor; it is now their turn to be his students. They will learn because they did not do the research and they do not know as much as he does about it. It is a life changing experience. But remember, the candidacy exams for the PhD are there to make you feel small for the rest or your life and that liberates you to discover that you can never know it all even about a specialty.

  6. Vince

    You need to get connected with Craig Ballantyne and Bedros Keuillian. They both have websites and offers LOTS of different coaching programs – they are 2 of the best.


    Get connected and learn my secrets :)

  7. Vince

    Hey Nelson,

    It’s very humbling to hear that you’re 58 and learning from me (and I’m sure the other fellas would be flattered to) and that says A LOT about you and I always love hearing from you.

    My equipment is arriving Nov 22-23! Pics will be uploaded when it’s done! So pumped.

  8. Vince

    Hi Walt,

    1. Where do you want to be in 3 years from now? This is a life changing exercise that requires you to sit down and vividly describe what you want your day to look like, how much are you making, when do you wake up, who is in your life, everything! Start with the END IN MIND. What are you really trying to accomplish? What is your BIG IDEA? How do you want the world to remember you? These are questions you need to ask so you can get a clear vision of where you want to be or else you can’t create a path to get there.

    2. Once you figure this out (most people never do this first exercise so they just spin their wheels) find ONE PERSON who can guide you. Most of my mentors required me to PAY TO PLAY and the financial commitments (for me personally) are extremely motivating. I usually invest into new 12-month coaching programs every year with a different coach.

    3. Then it’s your ball court to TAKE ACTION on one single thing every single day. I do this thing called the “50-Minute Focus Finder” where you spend 50 minutes a day working on your big idea with ZERO distractions. 50 minutes a day is all you need to become a success.

    4. OUTSOURCE OUTSOURCE OUTSOURCE. Believe it or, I don’t even know how to change a period to a comma on my website, I outsource EVERYTHING. Start hiring people to do EVERYTHING technical in your business.

    I know this are vague ideas but a business coach will be able to help you flush those things out further. If you’re looking for someone specifically Walt, let me know and I can make a recommendation.

  9. Tim

    Hey Vince I couldn’t agree with you more. I met you last year at Live Large and I’ve been implementing everything you talked about on starting a fitness business. However I’ve been going at it alone. I have seen very little results. I know I shared with you about my brother dying 10 years ago and I want to help people like him so I created a site called “Turn Around Fitness.” It’s for those who may be struggling with addictions or a unhealthy lifestyle. The idea is to turn your life around through fitness from an unhealthy one to a great one. I’m struggling with traffic. My site is here http://turnaroundfitness.com. It’s not totally completed yet but a start. Tell me what you think. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Frank

    Vince, have you read Dr. John Berardi’s book Scrawny to Brawny? His bulking up diet for the hypertrophy challenge is 4600 calories and includes 6 meals and 3 protein/carb drinks a day!