Keeping A Mentor

males-1002779_1920So, you have landed a great business mentor and you are looking forward to mutually fulfilling journey ahead. Congratulations! Just remember, that all the relationships are dynamic. You have to have right attitude and have to work on the relationship to make it stronger with each passing day. Every person is unique, has different values and outlook of life. Early on, try to establish the expectations from the relationship. Your mentor will be working on this aspect too.

  1. Be courteous and professional:  It goes without saying that without these two qualities you can’t go far in the relationship.
  2. Show strong willpower and progress: The entire universe is in continuous process of expansion and creation of new life and activity. Every morning when you get up, you witness freshness of new beings. Brand new flowers and leaves come into existence. We all have innate desire to live a longer life. People have kids or share their ideas because they want to live forever in one form or other. Your mentors chose to work with you because they want to see you grow. Your continued progress will motivate them to continue putting in the efforts.
  3. Ask for feedback: Getting the feedback is crucial part of mentoring process. Consistently ask for and act on the feedback. Consult with your professional mentor and let them know any challenges you are facing as well as the wins. This would help them customize further interactions with you so that you get maximum benefit. This would also take some load off them because they don’t have to work to know the result of their strategies.
  4. Keep your commitments: It is important that you keep your personal as well as professional commitments to allow natural growth of mentoring relationship.
  5. Be respectful: Be respectful of your mentor for sharing their knowledge with you and helping you grow.
  6. Do not give up: As in any other relationship, there may be tough times. Have faith in your mentor and in yourself and keep moving forward.
  7. Be yourself: It is great to connect with genuine person. Always be who you are – with all your flaws and strength. If there are some areas which need improvement are brought to surface, which is part purpose of mentoring, work on them to be a better person and professional. If you are not hundred percent genuine, it will be sensed and will negatively affect the relationship.
  8. Be prepared to share, don’t hold back: To keep your mentor on side you need to be very open and honest and basically share everything, because sooner or later he will find out anyway.
  9. Be respectful of time: Arrive ahead of time for meeting and on phone and Skype calls be on standby, ready for the call. There is nothing more frustrating for a mentor, squeezing you into his frequently busy schedule, to be kept waiting for you to arrive.
  10. Offer thanks and feedback. All mentors appreciate a written note, an email or a word of thanks for their input, ideas, encouragement and support. This will go a long long way. Do it frequently.
  11. Be articulate and make sure you too understand what is being said: Many folk hear what they want to hear, and not what is being told to them. Don’t be one of those people, but listen carefully and if necessary ask for clarification. Also, if you think that your mentor has misunderstood you, make sure you repeat what you are saying, and make sure that he gets it. Communication is key in the mentor / mentee relationship.
  12. Make sure that there are no surprises: Mentors hate surprises, and rightly so. If you’re have cash flow problems or facing litigation or not hitting financial targets, having employee problems or even personal relationship problems that are affecting your business, speak out and let your mentor know what is going on in your life and business and is in your mind. The right mentor will be able to help you!
  13. Stick to any commercial agreements with your mentor: If you have made any financial agreements to pay your mentor or do work for him in lieu of payment, stick to the agreement to the letter. The mentor is the one guy in your loop who can and will turn your life and business around.

What To Expect From The Right Mentor

A young man walked up to the master and said, “Master, I have been listening to your lectures for more than a month. But, I am sorry to say that it has not changed anything. I haven’t benefited at all”.

The master smiled knowingly and asked, “Son, where are you from?”

Disciple: “Kolisti”

Master: “How do you travel there? And how long will it take?”

Disciple: “If I ride the horse, I will reach there in couple of days”

Master: “Okay, if someone who does not know the directions set out for your village, will he reach there?”

Disciple: “Not sure, if he goes in wrong direction, he will never reach his destination.”

Master: “What if he just listens about the village and studies the maps but does nothing. Will he reach his destination?”

Disciple: “No master, unless he travels in the direction of village, he will not arrive.”

Master: “Son, if you do not walk on the path that I showed you, you will not experience any benefits.”

A Mentor’s job is similar. Any good mentor will have worked at the coal face on his own businesses and probably helped countless others. He will probably have seen tons of wins and some losses. Having worked with different entrepreneurs, he must have developed deeper understanding of the traits of those who are likely to succeed and those who need to change their modus operandi. But at the end of the day, he can only share the insights, give feedback and suggest the right path. It is up to the entrepreneur to change their own particular mindset and take appropriate actions. Ultimately that is going to decide the outcome of this joint venture called mentoring.

What you get from a mentor or business coach?

There are lots of people out there who just have the academic knowledge or managerial experience but never have had their own business. They function as speakers and guides to budding entrepreneurs. They can provide superficial information but at times it can prove to be more harmful than beneficial. A good mentor is one who has been in the trenches. There are lots of rewards of having the startups and businesses. A mentor can help you dream big and go for ventures beyond your wildest dreams, but he will gradually develop you before setting up your date with the big assignment.

On other hand, he is aware that entrepreneurship is not all rainbow and sunshine. There are thousands of variables. At times the ideas may not click, the competitor may come up with better products, key people from your organization may leave at a crucial point, and you may lose important clients because of your social, religious or political standing. Sometimes things may not work as smoothly as you would like them to even when you are following the instructions to the letter. The solution is to keep the faith, maintain your sanity and move on. A mentor can help you across the desert and as they say in the US military, “If you must walk through a minefield, make sure that you follow someone.

There are so many things involved in business. Registration and operations of your business carried from certain states within the country or even a foreign country can help you save lot in taxes; some banks offer better rates than others if you are getting paid in currency different than your own; you should have thorough understanding of labor laws of your country to avoid getting in trouble later on; may be you are entering in some sort of contract with your client, employee or the provider, may be you want to set up your accounts properly from the beginning so that the taxation at the end of the financial year goes smoothly. A mentor will be able to point you in the right direction and connect with the experts that you need. The mentor serves as your friend, confidante and guide to help you realize your dreams more efficiently that what you would have experienced by traveling alone. A mentor acts like lighthouse, steadfastly does in keeping ships from crashing into rocks.

What mentors do

 A good mentor will have many tricks and tools in his bag. Based on the need of the protégé, he could use the existing tools or even create a new one to reach the desired goal. Here are a few of the things he does:

  1. Prepare the ground before sowing the seeds: Every farmer knows the importance of preparing the soil before sowing the seeds. In the unprepared soil the yields will be far less than optimal. A mentor will check the soil of your mind to see if it is ready to sowing new ideas. If not, he will use different tools to condition your mind for best performance. This would allow you to perform and function at very high level and use your caliber like never before.
  2. Keep pushing you to your limits: Since he has good understanding of your capabilities, he will gradually push you to go higher and higher. (I call this throwing the ‘little birdy’ out of the nest!) The task given to the protege should not be within his comfort zone or too far away from his current abilities. Both scenarios may result in failure and loss of confidence for the mentee. To avoid that the mentor will understand exactly where the protégé stands and set the goals and tasks accordingly.
  3. Keep you marching in the right direction: Mentor will keep track of whether you are advancing in the right direction, with an almighty spring in your step. If you are on the right track, he will encourage you. However, if you are on the wrong path, he will help change the course.
  4. He will keep you moving: Sometimes you get stuck and make no progress. The reasons can be psychological blocks causing you to freeze, business related challenges or something else. A mentor will understand the situation and provide some useful solution.
  5. Introductions: Mentor probably has a large network of providers as well as entrepreneurs. He will be able to introduce you to the right people. This saves lots of time and heart burn.

Not all Chinese citizens know Kung Fu. Likewise, not every mentor can provide you the necessary support. Choosing your mentor wisely can change the fate of your business and your life forever. The right mentor will not take you on in the first place if feels that there isn’t the right connect at many different levels.

How To Attract A Mentor

So no mentor showed up in your life, when all of a sudden, like Frankie Dunn of “Million Dollar Baby”, Morpheus of “The Matrix”, Mr. Miyagi of “The Karate Kid”, or Tyler Durden of “Fight Club”? When the student is ready – the master appears, so worry not, you can still find one.

Following points are geared towards attracting the potential mentor. Before long term mentoring can start, there has to be some connection between you and your business mentor. If you already know the person, you can directly reach out to them. If you have never met, find someone who has little deeper connection and request them to introduce you. If even that is not possible, start the connection by contacting them through their blogs, websites, comments on their articles etc. There has to be some sort of connection before anything else can happen.

Ask for a small leg up:

When Steve Jobs was 12 year old he needed spare parts to build frequency counter. He called co-founder of Hewlett Packard, Bill Hewlett and requested for the parts. Hewlett Packard heartily laughed at this request and made sure that he got the required parts as well as summer job in HP to work on assembly line of the Frequency Counters.

There are many things to be noted here. Jobs showed the guts and initiative which is very attraction quality in any human being regardless of age. He was not asking for something big. If you are requesting for lots of time, energy or money there are more chances of the request not being met. There was genuine need shown by young Steve. If you are really stuck at something and if few minutes or so of
consulting with highly learned person is going to fix that problem, it would be easy for them to see the need and help.

Keep Asking:

Sooner or later you will find someone who is user friendly and has the time, inclination and motivation to help you.

Be Diligent In Your Quest:

Most folk tend to give up far too easily and far too quickly. To make this happen for yourself go the extra mile and then keep going.

Get Yourself In The Right Mental Space:

To move onward and upward and perhaps go from 6 figures to 7, will require change and most folk hate change, they really do it part of the human condition. Get yourself in the right mental space to attract change in your life and business and move onward and upward. Remember, everything you desire is just outside your comfort zone.

Offer Some Help:

Each and every one of us is unique and has different talent. If you believe you can help your mentor in any ways, no matter how small, go ahead and do it.

Be Okay With Having Your Request Turned Down:

It is almost certain that if we are looking for something which needs lots time and energy of another human being, we may be turned down. The person may be overwhelmed with their own work, facing some personal issues or don’t want to do it for reasons of their own. Do not take it personally. Just accept it in the matter of fact way and move on. This attitude will give you the confidence to reach out to more people.

Simply Be With Person That You Want To Be Your Mentor:

After spending some time with them, if they see your passion and skills, they may offer some time for discussion. Though not formally called as mentoring at that point, this can be beginning of long term mentoring relationship.



How To Find The Right Mentor

BUSINESSMENTORCARDFinding the right mentor is a cross between something like finding a guide for your PhD research (or any research project that needs guidance) and finding a friend. Even in various graduate level courses, you are supposed to come up with a new idea or topic, which is not already taught as a part of the course, do some research and present that to the team of experts. Students choose the subject that is close to their heart and then approach the professor specializing in that area to request him/her to be their guide. Students generally approach the professor who is cordial and commands great knowledge, based on the feedback given by seniors or their own interactions.  If you are getting mentored by someone you already know, then the process is akin to finding the guide in the university.

There are no set rules to find a friend

It can be your cousin, a classmate, neighbour next door or someone staying at the other end of the world and has different culture as well as language than yours. You can’t force yourself or the other person to be friends. It just happens naturally. If you have mutual respect, trust, shared values and similar passions, there is a ground for the relationship to take a life. You can’t sit at home and expect to have new friends. You socialize with people online and in person.

“Stay away from strangers” we were often told by well meaning people in our lives. However, connecting with humans around the world can enrich your horizons. As long as you do your due diligence, take your time, trust your common sense and gut feelings you are good to go. Many of your friends were strangers at some point of time.

So the “guide part” meets your business requirements and the “friend part” decides how much you enjoy the process of working together, goodwill, understanding and trust.


Lots of info on the net

You will find many articles on the net giving helpful specific ideas about how to find the mentors. You can start by considering the people you already know. Family friends, former bosses, professors, colleagues, or people suggested by them can be a something worth checking out. You can join various business groups to network and meet new people. There are many organizations like SCORE which provide free service that you may want to look into. There are also professional mentors who would charge you a fee and provide sound practical guidance and training based on years of experience in the field. In this life you get what you pay for and this is worth considering especially if you are an entrepreneur hungering after big success and want to get places fast.


Catch the ball before you throw it back

Some young players were practicing the drill of catching the ball coming in their direction and quickly throwing it back. One player was finding it difficult to get hold of the ball and was growing anxious. The coach called him aside and said, “You are probably too busy thinking about returning the ball hence struggling. For a moment don’t worry about it. Focus only on catching the ball”. The player immediately improved his performance. Take some time to understand what it is that you are looking for. Are you trying to find someone who is from your field and help you solve field specific problems and to get inspired?  Dr. Ed Roberts who created microcomputer, Altair 8800, inspired and mentored Bill Gates before he founded Microsoft.


The right Mentor can take you to the moon and back!

Or you are trying to find someone who would complement your abilities? Mark Zuckerberg was an excellent programmer who could create great products, but was inexperienced in marketing and promotion side of business. Though Sean Parker was very good programmer himself, Mark needed him more for his amazing business acumen and marketing skills than his coding abilities, Mark was looking to find the best business mentor in US. So, knowing a little more of what you want will certainly help you get it. From a personal stand point I can honestly say, that all my success can be put down to mentors of mine, great people like Fred Launchbury; Seamus O’Rourke and Bruce Snyder.