The real value of mentoring is bit hard to understand until you have experience with it. That’s why it’s important to start looking for mentors NOW. No matter what you are trying to do in life, there is a mentor for all of us. Mentors are sign posts on the road of life and they can help you in ways you don’t even know of yet. Often you won’t realise you have a mentor or how much they have helped you until later. When you are looking back on things and think, fuck that person really help me.
When you have had enough people like this in your life and you get to the point where you can help others by giving them your experience. You will find a different value in mentoring and a deep level of satisfaction in “paying it forward”.
So maybe you are not convinced? just try to think of someone in your life you have looked up to? Who has helped you or given you good advice (mentored you) couldn’t you use more of that now? If you don’t think you need people like this in your life and you think you already know everything you need to know? Well then you are a real dumb ass so stop reading this and FUCK OFF. Good hopefully that gets rid of the wrong people.
Ok so you are smart enough to know that you don’t know everything you need to know, so let’s look at how to find mentors. Some people and organisations will try to narrowly define mentoring but we think this is a mistake. The sign posts on the road of life can and should not be defined. It is up to you to recognise them and heed their advice when you come across one. Also, you need as much knowledge & wisdom as you can get, so you need as many mentors as you can get.
I had three amazing mentors one was a venture capitalist who I meet through university and he mentored me for 6 years. Another was a business angel who I meet through a business incubator program and the third was one of my first customers who took the time to teach me how his industry worked. I had no idea that I would meet these people or that they would go so out of their way to help me.
So how do we find them? Fact is you never know when or where these people (Mentors) will appear. Or in what form so you need to constantly have an eye out for them.
If you are at school / university pick out people who can help you now or maybe in the future? They can be anyone teachers, fallow student’s, gest presenters. The next place to look is in your industry or field of endeavour they can be anyone customers, suppliers even competitors. Look outside your business / project / field of endeavour you may find mentors through your friends & family or sporting / social clubs. Also check out networking groups or even through your social media network. Don’t be afraid to buy someone a coffee or beer and ask for their opinion.
Now there are organisations that specialise in mentoring, there are a range of them. Firstly, there are privet mentoring networks this is where one person may say to you “go and speak to such & such” take their advice and speak to that person. Personal referrals hold a lot of weight and if you need a Billionaire to fund your “save the world campaign” then a personal referral is how to find them.
Secondly there are formal mentoring programs these are usually run by not-for-profit organisations and there are lots of them. Sometimes they will charge you money, there might be a waiting list or a time restraint like you get six mentoring sessions over six months etc. Lots of business incubator / accelerator programs have a mentoring component. But some of these organisations also cherry pick mentee’s projects to invest in. Maybe this works for you and maybe it does not, so just keep it in mind.
Lastly what to look for in a mentor, well you know when someone honestly just wants to help you? That is what you are looking for. The mentor does not need to know everything sometimes they might just help you with a specific problem like finance or rising capital or marketing. Other times they can be more of a life mentor, someone that you like the way they approach life. It’s ok to pay for mentoring through a formal program and sometimes this can give you access to skills and knowledge you may not be able to get otherwise.
This is very IMPORTANT if you get a good mentor treat them like gold because they are, their advice can make all the difference between success and failure. There is one thing that shits mentor’s off and that is not being respected or being taken for granted. Remember they are trying to help you because they are paying forward (the good someone ells did for them) so take and act their fucking advice.
Ok so it does not matter were in life you are there is someone more experienced than you (Mentor) and someone less experienced than you (Mentee). When you meet the person who is less experienced, remember all the people who helped you along the way and PAY IT FORWARD.