One of you recently approached me with a question that I think is relevant to all of us as entrepreneurs, especially those of you who are in the early phases of your journey.

You asked:

“How do you find a mentor?”

If you’re in a position where you are looking for a mentor, there are 3 STEPS you can follow. If you are in a position to be a mentor to others, you can use these steps to consider how you might take others under your wing.

The first step is identifying WHO you want as a mentor! Obvious right?

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But it’s actually not as easy as you’d think.

Choosing who you want to be your mentor is a big decision that you should take seriously, and there are a few things you can think about to help you make the right decision.

First, think of who is where you want to be in your career, and who is doing the types of things that you want to do?

Often times somebody may appear to be a good mentor but, behind the scenes, they aren’t doing the things that you really want to be doing.

For example, early in my career I thought I wanted to go into sports marketing, so I worked for a sports marketing company one summer and quickly found out that was NOT something I wanted to do.

Sports and marketing are two of my favourite things, so a combination of the two seemed like the perfect fit.

On the surface it looked like a lot of fun, but when I actually got into it I realized that it wasn’t right for me.

Because the work itself – the actual tasks involved in the daily life of a sports marketer – were not what I was expecting.

The same thing can happen when picking a mentor.

A person may seem like they are exactly where you want to be in your career, but until you look further to understand the things that person is actually DOING on a daily basis, you won’t know if they are a person who you truly want to learn from.

Next, the most IMPORTANT part of choosing a mentor is identifying a person whose VALUES align with yours.

There are a lot of great people who are doing incredible things, but it’s very difficult to learn from somebody if their values don’t align with your values.

That is my #1 tip for identifying who you want to be your mentor.

The second step in finding a mentor is finding out HOW you can be of service to this person.

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People often think that you’ve got to have a relationship with somebody before you can approach them to be a mentor.

…that’s NOT true.

The number one thing that successful people DO NOT have is TIME.

If you realize that, you can be of value.

Early in my career, I worked for a number of people who I wanted to mentor under.

…and I worked for FREE.

I was young. I had an abundance of time!

Being able to exchange your time for an opportunity to learn is a HUGE advantage you have if you’re looking for a mentor.

Think, “What is stressing this person out? How can I add a tonne of value?” and, most importantly, “How can I save this person a tonne of TIME?”

Be SPECIFIC in how you can help.

I have a lot of people who approach me who want to learn from me, and they say, “If you ever need any help, just let me know.”

It doesn’t work like that!

The easiest and most effective way to get the attention of a mentor is to give them something very specific that you are willing to do for free in exchange for the opportunity to learn.

Another tip is to start SMALL. Don’t make huge promises or proposals that might be too much for your potential mentor to even think about at the time of you approaching them.

The third and final step if you want to find a mentor is to OVER-DELIVER on your promises.

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If you find something specific and small to help with like we talked about in the last step, that door of opportunity has been opened for you.

You can capitalize on this opportunity by OVER-DELIVERING on whatever it is you offered to do.

Then you can seek other things to help with.

The more ways you can think of to save your mentor time, and the more you can over deliver on your promises, the more you will earn their TRUST, and they will send even more work your way.

To recap those steps:

1) Figure out WHO you want to be your mentor.

Make sure they are actively doing the things you want to be doing.

Make sure their values align with yours.

2) Figure out HOW you can help them.

Approach them and offer to help with small, specific tasks than can save them time.

3) OVER DELIVER on your promises.

Whatever you offered to do, do a great job at it and then look for even more opportunities to help.

 

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Okay, your turn.

Do you currently have or have you previously had a mentor?
How did you get connected with them?
Are you a mentor to somebody else?
What advice would you give to somebody looking to find a mentor?
Looking forward to reading your comments below.

 

  • Gina Latreille

    I encouraged à friend to try something that scared her but that she loved and it helped her. And my teachers at school encourage me that its à good thing to be à woman in small motor mechanics and that i Will be able to get à job and some things i can do to help me to suceed. for me becoming à small motor mechanic is so amazing it fills my heart With Joy. I have alot to learn but i know each step i take i get à little better and one day ill wake up and ill know mechanics like the back of my hand.:-)

  • Mark Michuda

    I would love to mentor startups or founders! If you know anyone…have them reach me. http://www.markmichuda.com/

    • Are you familiar with Venture for America? they have an accelerator program and superb vetting process, which means amazing founders.

      • Mark Michuda

        There are too man accelerator programs to count! But, thanks!

  • Rob McCleland

    I mentor several in the area of leadership development who are committed to being lifelong learners. I have 3 mentors in my life–why they are all old now they’ve been with me over 20 years, and I couldn’t have made to where I am without them. Recently I’ve taken a younger mentor for the first time! It’s called reverse mentoring; it’s where you find someone younger who will mentor you to stay relevant where younger generations are today. The younger man who is mentoring me is 32 years old, super sharp young exec from Best Buy Corporate (I’m 55). His insights are invaluable. I can’t imagine life without being mentored and mentoring others.

    • I like your emphasis on mentorship, even from a younger man! It reminds me that it’s good to seek mentorship in a variety of areas and from a variety of people.

      • Rob McCleland

        Thanks Ryan!

    • Jill Colomy

      Love this. I’m new and I do not know what I can offer someoe to help them?

      • Jill Colomy

        To find a great Mentor ill will cost a lot of money and I do not have that kind of money. I have already lost a lot. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

        • Rob McCleland

          Jill, none of my mentors have ever charged me, and I’ve never charged the 8 people I mentor. Your not purchasing the services of an executive coach–your getting someone who would love to help those who do the things Stu mentions above and keep making progress! Read Michael Hyatt’s blog on the same subject, then take a risk and co for it.

      • Rob McCleland

        Ask them! When I’ve asked someone to mentor me, the conversation usually starts with me saying, “I’m not a brown-noser but I have significant respect for you for several reasons. I like you to consider investing 10 minutes in me by answering some specific questions that I can send you in advance. And if we’re still talking in the 11th minute, that would be because you’ve invited us to extend the conversation.” If/when it goes well, I have a specific email of thanks/continued connected that I send.

  • Michelle Weidenbenner

    I think more students need to do this instead of going to college right away. Read, THINK AND GROW RICH. There are lots of examples on mentoring in that book. But i agree that a person might not know who they want to mentor. The first step is discovering who they are. Maybe people are blind to their gifts. Also, researching people and their businesses before deciding who to choose for a mentor is huge. But even if they choose wrong, there’s still something to be learned.

    I have a friend who found a MOTHER MENTOR because she didn’t have the best mother growing up. This MOTHER MENTOR helped her to become a much more patient, loving and grounded person. I wish more people would adopt this philosophy. (But I’m a LEARNER on the STRENGTHS FINDER test so maybe that’s why I’m so open to being taught. Not everyone is teachable and willing to do the three things you mention above.)

  • I find amazing mentors online. But you have to sort through the BS to get to the amazing legitimate opportunities. I have been on a quest to increase my online income. In the internet marketing world, many so-called ‘marketing experts’ are actually just learning how to do it themselves. But they are good at building their own IMAGE to look like they could be an expert. The ‘make money online’ niche is especially full of these individuals who masquerade as business mentors. But be clear – they are NOT. So how do you discern the fakes from the real deal? One way – research! Stu puts it all out there. That helps us determine that he is ‘transparent’, as all legit mentors should be. Thanks Stu! And you know Digital Marketer’s Ryan Deiss? I would join their LAB. Excellent info and How To Guides for anyone building a business online. I also found that one person in particular helps others get started in a business with great income potential and less work on the front end. His name is Dean Holland: http://cutt.us/IncomeCoach Believe me, I have scoured the internet in this niche and I have sorted through the offerings for business building – This is the best combination of: 1. simplest business model and 2. opportunity to earn the most. I have an MBA and 30+ years of business-building entrepreneurship OFFLINE. And you know what? That doesn’t mean a DA_ _ thing online! HA! 🙂 Best wishes, and to your success!

  • Lori Lee

    I would love to have a podcast mentor. I think it would really valuable to have a service that connected professionals who are willing to mentor up-and-coming podcasters, and I’d be more than willing to make it a win/win.

    • Arnout Orelio

      Dear Lori, check out ‘The Mentee’. Geoff Woods might be the right person for you to talk to (and to listen to!) http://geoffwoods.com

  • Interested in becoming a web designer for Christian ministries and non-profits, I emailed a certain Christian ministry I valued asking about what they would look for if they were hiring a web designer. I let them know I was starting out and told them I wanted to use their advice to have a better understanding of how to prepare for a web design position within a ministry. The web and marketing person for the non-profit wrote me back and offered to talk over the phone with me about my question. He gave me TONS of helpful advice on how to get better at my trade and how to better position myself to serve Churches and Christian non-profits. His counsel was invaluable. He ended up offering me an internship with the ministry not long afterwards and he continues to be a patient and helpful mentor to me. I can’t imagine not having that kind of mentorship. Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to reach out to others and ask for their advice. Let them know you’re starting out and would like some direction. You may get ignored by some (I was). But there are many experienced individuals out there excited to pass on what they know and to invest in others.

  • Awesome post and awesome strategy. Thanks stu for sharing this with us. WIll apply these and will tell you how it goes.

  • It’s a great content! Thank you!

  • two additional thoughts – 1./ take a “no” today as a “not yet” when you care enough to get better and stay in touch to get to “yes” some other time / context. Giving up too soon when the alignment is strong robs us of opportunity; 2./ help anyway, starting from where you are. If you’ve done your job well, you already figured out what is important to this person, because it’s also what matters to you. So do something that moves you into a sphere closer to your goal of working together.

  • Juliano Primavesi

    I have some difficult to find a mentor here in Brazil, with all qualities I am searching. Someone like you :-). Do you think it’s possible to have a mentor outside your region? Too far far far far away? It works?

  • raspyni

    This is excellent, Stu. Simple and doable. I’m picking from a few possible mentees who have asked me for an opportunity. Reading these tips, 2 of them fall off my radar instantly. Thanks for saving me (and them) a bunch of time and stress.

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