April 12, 2010

Mentors wanted: A guide to significance

One of the best ways you can create wealth is by mentoring others. 

By mentoring, I mean sharing your knowledge and experience with someone to help them find traction in their efforts or reach the finish line.  I wouldn't be a published author today if I didn't have mentors throughout my life: My pre-Yahoo career, my writing career, my speaking career, etc.  

Mentorship is important for you and the person you help.  You will enter a knowledge feedback loop through mentorship, which will only help you gain valuable insight as your mentee tries out your ideas in the real world.  For them, you pass along your value, multiplying it and strengthening the 'system'.  Often though, we are haphazard about mentorship programs, and often wonder what good we've done. 

Here are a few rules for mentorship: 

1. Pick someone based on a hunch: Don't advertise that you are looking for mentees, or take the first suggestion that comes your way.  You'll know the mentee when you see her.  She's got a passion for the goal, a willingness to work, a respectable level of potential -- and she reminds you a little of yourself.  (PS: Don't offer mentorship to a peer or someone that's arguable doing better than you.)

2. Don't be formal: Just start helping, there's no need to make a production out of it.  Besides, she may not be a receptive mentee, so there's no use making a big deal about it.  Just do it. 

3. Listen before you prescribe: It's important to understand what her goals are, what obstacles remain and most importantly what motivates her.  Don't just dive in with your list of biz-tips, take Covey's advice and seek first to understand. 

4. Put your mentee on a reading program: Share some of the great books that helped you solidify your point of view.  Much like a teacher, these books will serve as a foundation for your advice later on. 

5. Be helpful, not Yoda: You don't need to browbeat someone for them to be a good mentee.  You should already have their respect if you've really got something valuable to offer.  Focus on how you can give useful advice related to getting simple things done.  Go beyond knowledge, and offer to network your mentee with others to drive the progress. 

6. Never collect: No matter how much you help, remember, you are in giving mode and not trade mode. If you make mentorship expensive, it becomes consulting.  By giving without expectations, just like Tom Peters did with me, you'll have a friend for life that will appreciate what you did for him/her and repay you beyond your wildest imagination. 

When you take on a mentee, and make a difference, you are creating some significance in your life.  I call it "multiplying value."

Posted at 7:59 AM in Business Effectiveness , Leadership  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)



Awesome post Tim.

"remember, you are in giving mode and not trade mode."

Love it!

thank you.


" If you make mentorship expensive, it becomes COACHING." :)


The question that naturally arises for me is whether one can successfully market him/herself for career opportunities as a highly motivated and talented individual who also seeks mentorship. My past professional experience in a competitive business development environment has proven that most managers don't really like to manage people, yet several reliable sources have told me that I should be marketing myself as the individual previously described. So how do I sell myself on past achievement while also ensuring that I'm not simply cut loose to swim with the sharks going forward?

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