6 Tips to a Successful Mentorship

The business world is brutal, rewarding, difficult,
exciting, and can pretty much be considered a
rollercoaster of emotions. Having someone to
coach you through it and guide you through the
maze of challenges is extremely valuable. I’ve
been fortunate to have some amazing mentors in
my life, and equally as fortunate to mentor some
other leaders. Here are some tips that can lead to a
successful mentorship relationship.
1. Know What You’re Looking For in a Mentor:
The first step in finding a mentor is knowing what
you want in a mentor. Ken Oboh, co-founder of new
startups in the music scene (Umix and Remix),
spoke with me about their initial search for a
business coach/mentor.
“Before we met Dush, Chris and I had a long-term
vision of where we wanted to go, but we needed a
mentor to connect our vision/strategy to actionable
steps,” Oboh said. “We wanted to get connected to
the key people within our industries, the guidance
of an expert who had built several businesses and
helped others do the same to guide us through the
process, to track our progress, as well as keep the
relationships with all these key people growing and
flourishing at all times. This is exactly the powerful
role that our coach and mentor Dush has been
playing ever since we met.”
2. Find a Mentor Who Is Active in the Industry
Oboh also offered this great advice: “Our very best
tip is to look for a business mentor/coach from
within the industry you’re operating in or aspiring to
join — and particularly within organizations/
companies you already work with or would like to
work with in the future. Even if you can’t have a
direct formal relationship with someone in this
position, his or her industry-specific knowledge,
contacts, key relationships, and overall experience/
business savvy will prove very valuable and
powerful as you build your business in that
industry.”
3. Make Your Smartest Friend Your Mentor
Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30CEO and
Under30Experiences, has had mentors and
mentored others himself. He gave some great
advice about what to do when you’re struggling to
find a mentor.
“Find your smartest friend and make them your
accountability partner,” Wilson said. “Schedule a
weekly call, and keep each other on track. Make
this a priority, and make sure you have an agenda
for this call.”
4. Make Your Travel Buddies Your Mentors
Wilson believes the friends you travel with can be
the most valuable mentors: “Finding retreats like
Under30Experiences allows you to form real bonds
with like-minded people and start building the co-
mentor relationship. When it comes to mentorship,
there is nothing better than building a non-
transactional friendship formed over amazing
experiences. True friendship is the best mentorship
of all.”
5. Understand the Mentor’s Style
A mentor’s knowledge in the industry is important,
as is the compatibility of their style to your own.
Kelli Richards, CEO of The All Access Group and a
trusted consultant, coach and mentor to start-
ups, had some advice on finding the right mentor
match.
“It’s helpful to get a sense for the mentor’s
philosophy and style,” Richards said. “How open-
minded are they? How worldly? How do they speak,
write, and present themself as a professional? But
really the most important things to assess are fit
and trust. Does it feel good to interact with the
mentor? Have they achieved things that can
accelerate the entrepreneur’s path? Can they
impart wisdom that will make a lasting difference
to the person being mentored?”
6. Know the Difference Between a Mentor
and a Coach
Richards has been both a mentor and a coach in the
past, and there is a big difference in the type of
relationship for the mentee. “Mentoring is largely
reactive, whereas coaching can be proactive as
often as reactive,” Richards said.
“I have worked both as a mentor and a coach to
different startups and management teams. When
I’m approached to work with a client I determine
early on which relationship makes the most sense
given the circumstances, and I educate the client as
to what structure I think will serve them the best
and make the best contribution towards the results
and goals they say they want to achieve.”
If your potential mentor is more comfortable in a
coaching setting, there may be another option for
you and your startup!
The Challenge:
Use Your Experiences Being Mentored to
Become a Mentor
Kelli is a great example of a hybrid — someone
who has been mentored and is now a mentor
herself.
“It’s my own experiences of being mentored by two
world-class mentors that has really inspired me to
become a strong mentor myself,” she said.
“I have been lucky enough to be mentored by Alan
Cohen and Alan Weiss — the former a leader in the
personal growth movement and a best-selling
author many times over, and the latter being one of
the most sought-after consultants in the world and
himself a best-selling author.”
Kelli can easily pull on her experiences as a mentee
to know how to most effectively mentor others.
As a fellow hybrid mentor/mentee, I agree with Kelli
that it is extremely gratifying and actually very
valuable to my business. The more people I mentor,
the more I learn about my business and myself.
Mentoring people helps me understand the challenges I may face when I start my next company and keeps me in tune with the latest trends. So here’s my challenge for each of you: find a mentor, then be a mentor.

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