Why getting a mentor is important

I was brave (naive?) enough to introduce myself to the ex-CEO of one of Britain’s biggest publishing companies (I cornered him in a coffee shop). Why? Because I want to learn more.

I’m 29 and in the big scheme of things, I just don’t know that much.

Thankfully this kind soul didn’t mind me introducing myself and we’ve just finished our second meeting. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for what he’s achieved and it’s been really interesting to sit down and ask for his advice on a few things.

We went over our cash flow and talked about our goals and it’s amazing how I’ve already gotten fresh insight on a few important issues.

The best thing about finding a quality business mentor is that it helps you to see things from a new angle. No matter how much you know, you just can’t see everything without a little help.

We’ve made a pretty important decision on DropSend, based on our last meeting. I’ll share more on that later.

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Comments

0 comments on “Why getting a mentor is important

  1. Ryan,

    We have talked to a few people about this on our podcast… When you approach someone to be a mentor, what do they get out of the deal?

    I am not asking for specifics of the deal, just curious how deals like this normally go down…

  2. When you approach someone to be a mentor, what do they get out of the deal?

    In our case, he might eventually join our Board, which means they get a small amount of equity (usually 0.5%).

    Or, he might help us sell DropSend and take a small cut.

    There’s a million different ways to do things.

  3. Hi Ryan,

    This is something that I find very useful – while I don’t have an official mentor as such the MD of Blueleaf, Adrian Lomas has a wealth of experience over me and he has a mentor himself. Really useful stuff.

    Looking forward to the DropSend announcement.

  4. “When you approach someone to be a mentor, what do they get out of the deal?”

    I have had a number of mentors over the last 10 years. Some have worked on a commercial basis (i.e. professional mentors) and others not.

    Generally the professional guys have been very good for short periods of time and dealing with specific challenges.

    On a longer term basis the non-professional mentors have provided more valuable ongoing support and advice. Generally these people have provided advice free of charge because they have been successful, have time and enjoy sharing their experience with younger business people who they connect with.

  5. I don’t like the idea of paying a mentor. It seems as if this could lead to problems such as the mentor giving advice based on what would benefit them.

  6. Interesting post. I have often thought about finding a mentor but didn’t know how to go about 1) looking for one and 2) ask them.

    The mentor you have selected, he seems to be in a slightly different industry. Is that something you consciously looked for? Do you think it’s important to find someone who knows exactly what your business might be going through?

    Did you really just walk up to them and say “can you be my mentor?”

    I have often heard of people talking about getting a quasi Board of Directors together as well. Do you think that might be a good option?

  7. Ok, next question… How do you go about finding a good mentor? It seems like Cincinnati has slim pickins for finding one :). Do you just pick any successful business person, or someone more related to your industry? Have any of you worked with a remote mentor?

  8. Josh — you just do it. There’s nothing more to it really. If your network of colleagues can’t come through you can look to organizations like SCORE . If you are patient, have the right approach, and show a true passion for what you do then finding someone to take you under there wing won’t be very difficult.

    I know as I have grown more successful I have found myself really enjoying talking with others just starting out and helping coach them through the mistakes I made. I have found a lot of successful people who really enjoy doing the same.

  9. The mentor you have selected, he seems to be in a slightly different industry. Is that something you consciously looked for? Do you think it’s important to find someone who knows exactly what your business might be going through?

    You’ll find that solid business principles are shared across all industries. I chose this mentor because I know he’s a good guy (I can trust his advice) and he’s very smart.

    In addition, I really like the fact he’s in a different industry. It means he’ll have a fresh perspective.

    Did you really just walk up to them and say “can you be my mentor?”

    Pretty much! I had asked a friend for an introduction, but it never materialized. I later saw him in a coffee shop and I just walked up to him and asked! :)

  10. How do you go about finding a good mentor?

    I agree with Paulo on this one. Just identify someone you trust (preferably in your physical location) and call or email them.

    I think most potential mentors would find it flattering. They’ll let you know if they’re too busy, don’t worry.

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