Why I Mentor Entrepreneurs

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill
[men-tawr, -ter] — noun
a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
an influential senior sponsor or supporter.

That definition has never done it for me.

In my experience, mentors are different.

… they are different than leaders

… they are different than managers

… they aren’t trainers

… they aren’t teachers in the traditional sense

… they aren’t consultants either

They are different because their motivations are different.

They are different because they choose to work with you and not for you.

They are different because they are always aiming for your best interest.

Mentoring versus coaching

Aren’t mentors the same as coaches?

I love mentoring entrepreneurs. I also like coaching innovators.

They are similar — but different.

… Coaching is more task oriented

… Mentoring is based on a relationship

… Coaching has a beginning and an end

… Mentoring can last a lifetime.

… Coaching is performance driven

… Mentoring is development driven

… Coaching is specific, and has constraints

… Mentoring is ambiguous and wandering

… Coaching is 2D

… Mentoring is 3D

AND… Good mentors are often also often good coaches

A combination of mentoring and coaching could change your business, your career and your life.

It certainly has for me.

Good coaches will…

… push you beyond your comfort zone, yet not make you feel deficient

… critique and tune the smallest details one at a time, never all at once

… make you want to be held accountable for improvement

… push you until you come to the edge of failure, then make sure you rest

… pick apart your weaknesses while reinforcing your strengths

… always be direct, always specific

… be passionate, but not emotional

Good mentors…

… help you see the journey, not just the next destination

… provide perspective so that you can plot a course

… keep you connected to your why

… hold you accountable to your own commitments

… are Socratic — they won’t tell you the answers, they help you find them

… become a better mentor the longer they know you

… use your failures, weakness and your super-powers to drive your growth

Why doesn’t everyone have a mentor?

What surprises me is that every person, team, and organization doesn’t surround themselves with as many coaches and mentors as humanly possible.

If you’re a professional athlete, you certainly do.

Do you think Phil Mickelson, one of the greatest golfers of all time, didn’t have a world-class mentor?

He’s the best in the world at what he does, doesn't he know enough not to need a mentor?

What could they possibly teach the best in the world in golf about golfing?

Turns out Phil regularly mentors other players. Why? Because he was mentored by other world-class golfers.

The mentor’s rung in the corporate ladder

Most org charts don’t have any room for mentors. You see assistants, subordinates, managers —rarely do you ever see a box for a mentor.

Sure, companies do things like…

… send their people on training

… help pay for certifications

… promote participation in professional associations and groups

… send teams to conferences

… get them to participate in community events

… hire fancy consultants with many letters behind their name

… buy people books to read

It’s my belief that none of the above can hold a candle to the value delivered by a good coach or mentor.

You can’t become a world-class golfer by going to a few golf lessons, by getting “certified” in golfing, by being part of a golf association, by going to golf conferences, by going to golfing community events, by hiring a golf pro every now and then to tell you how bad you are, or by simply reading a bunch of books on golf.

Getting a PhD in golf in no way shape or form makes you good at playing the game. You could probably ace a test on golf however, if there was such a thing.

A coach is there to continually course correct you. A mentor reminds you of why the journey matters. Both are critical to your success.

Does having a mentor mean I therefore suck?

It is often conceived, illegitimately, that having a coach or a mentor is a sign of weakness or lack of ability. A social faux pas if you will.

If you have a mentor, is that a sign of weakness or a clear indication to everyone that you don’t know what you’re doing?

Are you a professional fraud if you have a mentor?

Well, let me tell you — if that’s the case, then we’re all frauds. Embrace it.

It really is time to change all of this — not just for entrepreneurs — but for every working professional in any industry.

Returning to the why

Let’s get back to the original question.

Why do I mentor entrepreneurs?

… Because I’m an entrepreneur …and I know what it’s like

… Because my mentors helped remind me of my why ….and I know how easy it is to lose sight of it.

… Because my mentors helped me see the forest from the trees …and I know how valuable that perspective can be

… Because they pushed me out of my comfort zone …and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me

… Because they held me accountable to myself and my teams …and my teams were thankful and better performing for it

… Because they gave me slaps when I was irrational …and the sting motivated me every damn time

… Because they slowed me down when I was going too fast… and kicked my ass when I was going too slow

… Because they cared about me …and that meant the world to me when I needed it most.

…and I want to pay it forward for the rest of my life.

Yup, that’s why. It’s my why. And my mentors helped me find it.

My ask is simple — be or get a mentor today

Like.. right now.

Do you want to be a mentor?

Then go be a mentor.

Go find someone who you like and want to see succeed and say “Hey, is there anything I can do to help?” and take it from there.

Want to be mentored?

Don’t be shy or ashamed.

Go up to someone you think might be able to help you and say “Hey, I’d like your advice.” That’s exactly how it starts.

Being stuck is hard. Taking advice from other people is hard. Choose your hard

If you want some tips on how to get the most value out of a mentor — or if you want to chat about how you can be a world-class mentor, reach out to me.

Let’s chat.

What’s Your Journey?

I’m really interested in hearing about your challenges as an Innovator and Entrepreneur. Please share a note, comment or a story. If you like this post, please help by sharing it and giving the post a few claps so it can reach more people.

You can also follow me on twitter @joelsemeniuk where I regularly discuss all things innovation, and more importantly, the personal costs we innovators bear.