The following is a guest post by Tim Kenny. He creates awesome Accelerated Learning courses for Entrepreneurs. This weeks, his Find Your First Mentor program is being featured on GiveGetWin at over 70% off. Take it away, Tim…
Most people have never had a real mentor in their entire lives. And it makes sense; you never take a class in school about how to find a mentor. A mentor is not just someone who gives you advice (that’s an advisor), a mentor is someone who cares about you and wants to see you succeed.
In our culture we have this idealized picture of what a mentor should be: someone who can give you sage advice on any problem you face in any area of your life. But the truth is these types of mentors are the hardest to find and you can waste years of your life searching for that one magical person instead of deciding to pick different mentors for each area of your life. By having multiple mentors you avoid the mistake of overwhelming one mentor with all your needs and problems.
The Advantage of Younger Mentors
Another myth is that a mentor has to be someone who is much older than you and much more successful. I thought this too for the longest time, until I interviewed Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip (graduated college at 18, 10M + company) about his experience with mentors. He told me that he looks for mentors that are 6-12 months ahead of him in the development of their company. Often these entrepreneurs are only a few years older than him. Why?
Because a younger mentor who has done what you want to do so recently has more recent and up to date advice than a guy who is the CEO of a company and only works on high level strategic planning, hiring and management. Avoid the mistake of trying to get a “celebrity” mentor. Once you realize the value of having a younger, less sought after mentor, you will see that these kinds of mentors are both easier to find and easier to convince to be your mentor.
You have to realize going in that unless someone is very famous on the internet, or are extremely busy or over-contacted for some other reason, they probably don’t have a single mentee and are probably interested in being a mentor to the right person. One of the greatest tasks for an expert or thought leader as they approach middle/old age is finding a single person that they can pass the torch onto. This is a big problem that many potential mentors face and its one that you are perfectly equipped to solve if you follow a few basic principles outlined below.
A Mentor Needs You Just as Much as You Need Them
Never make the mistake of thinking that you need a mentor more than they need you. A mentor who wants something from you is not someone you want as a mentor. Their reward for mentoring is intrinsic — meaning they are getting just as much if not more out of it than you are because they enjoy the process of mentoring. Being a mentor is also an ego-stroke for some people, because it validates their worth as a teacher and someone to look up to as a role model.
Young entrepreneurs get a lot of false ideas about mentoring from “Startup Accelerator Land.” These “mentors” are not real mentors. They are really advisors who in some rare cases become mentors. It’s a mostly professional, not personal, relationship, and there is oftentimes some form of quid pro quo involved. A real mentor is someone who you choose and who chooses you because you are a good fit for each other. You need to really internalize that they are there to serve you and they have just as much to gain from the relationship by teaching as you do by learning.
So — Why Would a Mentor be so Interested in YOU?
Because they see themselves in you, they want to live vicariously through you, they want to re-experience the energy of youth, they admire your courage and youthful enthusiasm, they see helping you as a way to improve the world, your success validates their knowledge and wisdom as an entrepreneur. In many ways the best mentor-mentee relationships resemble an adult father-son relationship in which there is a combination of respect and friendship. Great mentors know that all great mentees will eventually have much to teach them…and the relationship will evolve into a co-mentoring one where they learn as much as they teach.
Remember: a mentor who has already achieved the success you dream of still has something to prove: were they just lucky or can they duplicate their success in another person? An entrepreneur can only achieve the true height of success if they can pass the torch onto someone else who they can help make even more successful than they are themselves.
Your job is to be that right person by being exceptional and taking action on what they tell you to do. For most potential mentors, that’s all it takes to become the perfect person to pass their torch onto and guide along the path of life. Be fearless in your quest to find and contact mentors and you will be surprised at how rich your life becomes.
To learn more about how to find mentors, read Part 2: Cold Emailing Techniques to Find Mentors. To learn about managing your relationships with your mentors, read Part 3: 13 Techniques for Managing Your Mentors.
Most importantly, to dive deep into this material and get the step-by-step on building successful mentor-mentee relationships, check out Tim’s Find Your First Mentor Course. The course usually sells for $97, but because of the charitable nature of GiveGetWin, he’s made 20 spots available for only $29.