Stop, Nobody Is Going To Be Your Mentor
“Nobody has time to mentor you. Let’s just get that out of the way.”
Jason Barber said that. He’s the former Recruiting Manager for a company called Physassist, and I persuaded him to sit down with me a couple weeks back to chat.
It seems I busted your bubble right away (sorry about that), but I think you should hear the rest of what he has to say.
Do The Grunt Work
“A busy professional doesn’t have time to mentor people, but what they do have time for is somebody who’s trying to break into that field saying ‘I’m trying to do grunt work for you.’ Find a project they’re working on that’s meaningful, and just do work with no expectation of return.”
I think we view mentors as people who will sit down with us every day for an hour and talk to us about what we can do to become rich and successful.
A worthwhile mentor is actually busy at all hours of the day. They’re working on important things. There’s realistically not that much time for mentoring.
So how do we get “in” with them?
How do we scrounge away even two minutes of their time to give us a few pointers? By getting involved with what they’re doing professionally.
By jumping right in.
They’re looking at everything else in terms of value. What would they be getting out of lengthy meetings with you?
What Jason’s getting at is that hard work can be a form of mentoring. And when young professionals get out of college, we think we’re beyond grunt work. That’s what we were educated for. But this is backwards thinking.
The Fact Is, We Actually Know Nothing After College
“When you exit college, the biggest lie you’ve been told is that you’re some sort of semi-professional. No! When you leave college you’re an amateur. If you did professional things in college, sure we can call you a professional. But if you took classes, went to school, and worked at Starbucks then your professional acumen resembles that of what you’ve done for the past four years.”
That’s the problem. We think a piece of paper makes us special. Special emphasis on the “we,” because I’m part of that, too.
So, we get it!
We need to do some grunt work. There isn’t always going to be a Yoda figure there to put us through Jedi training. We need to humble ourselves and get to work.
How To Actually Attract A Mentor
“So the best tactic you can take as a new college grad is to begin opening up connection points with these hiring managers and begin to solve small-scale problems for them. Whether you get paid a lot of money is kind of inconsequential.”
And this can be extrapolated to anything. He’s talking about recent graduates, but what about me? I’m in the business of writing.
Sure, I’ve been published on The Huffington Post and Elite Daily, but I certainly have many other ambitions in this craft.
What if I wanted to write a book?
If so, I’d probably get in contact with a local author and ask if I could do any work for them. Small tasks. Maybe they need a second pair of eyes on new material. Maybe they need some editing done. Maybe they need me to run to the store and get them some new paper to print on.
Maybe this sounds like a waste of time, but I’m certain at one point their genius will rub off on me.
Maybe I’ll get better as a writer through reading their material, or maybe I’ll find out more about publishing by going through the actual process with them.
Hard work is the best way to learn.
Picking The Right Mentor
“If you want to go and work for a person, you want to go and work for a person that is ten times better than you. Because they’re going to raise you and help you become a better professional.”
At one point during my hour-long interview Jason asked me who I would want to play for, Phil Jackson or another basketball Coach I seriously can’t remember.
I said it depends on if Phil’s a Coach or a GM.
But seriously, you know the answer to this one.
Jason laughed, and followed up by saying, “Sometimes it takes years to find that rockstar that you want to work for, but you want to attach your coat tails to that rockstar. Because that person is going to elevate your game.”
Jason said it sometimes takes years. YEARS.
What does that tell you about how selective you should be?
Surround Yourself With A-Players
“You’re going to have two groups of people. You’re going to have a circle of friends that are like ‘Hey, what you doing?’, and they only want to drink and hoot and holler about who the Ravens are playing this weekend.
Then there’s going to be a circle that you’re going to have to attach yourself professionally to that holds you accountable, they’re professionals that get results, they’re rockstars, they’re A-players.”
Mentors only help people they see promise in.
At one point you’re going to have to divorce yourself from the people who drink every Friday and Saturday night. All they want to do on Sunday is fish, and all they want to do every night after work is watch Netflix.
If you surround yourself with A-Players, chances are you’ll bump into someone along the way who has grunt work for you, and has the time to throw some pointers your way as well.
Jason really dropped off a few other gems in our interview. The rest of our discussion can be found in The Post-Grad Survival Guide Magazine. It’s free for anybody who wants to view it here.