Mentors do not come in one-size-fits-all packaging. Our backgrounds vary, our skills vary, and, quite naturally, our motivations vary. Understanding us, your mentors, requires looking past the standard answers and asking yourself:
- Who are we?
- What can we add?
- What do we want?
- What can you give us?
Archetypes are key to understanding mentors
The answers to these questions come easier if you categorize your mentors. The individual mentor often falls into more than one category. There is plenty of overlap, but the differences between us are often key. We include investors, service providers, corporates, consultants, and academics, to name just a few.
Match the mentor to the task
Of these, the serial entrepreneur is often the most coveted, but mentoring is very individual. Success depends on the challenge, the situation, the circumstances, and not least, the match. Sometimes the perfect mentor is who you initially least expect it be.
It’s not a task, it’s a tool
Taking the time to analyze your mentors often ranks low. The big list of ‘Must-Do-Tasks’ doesn’t leave a lot of room for ‘Nice-to-Do-Tasks’. This brings up one of the nice things about this job: it falls into the ‘Something-That-Makes-My-Life-Easier’ category. Figuring out who can help you with what saves you time so you can go faster.
Don’t do what mentors can do better, faster
To those who would say they’re too busy trying to grow great companies, the answer is simple. If you’re not giving mentors the attention we deserve, you’re not just missing out on something that could help you grow faster. You’re slowing yourself down by spending time on things that we could be doing for you. Mentoring is a very effective way to get what you want. We’re flexible. We scale.
How to do it, you ask? I’m going to examine that in greater depth. I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’ve seen it done a lot of ways. There’s data, my opinions, other people’s opinions, and all sorts of war stories. It’s going to be fun.