What Exactly is a Mentor?

If you’ve ever read an article on “how to be an entrepreneur”, 1 piece of advice that’s always in there is to find a mentor. Well, what does that actually mean? How do you find a mentor and what purpose do they actually serve?

Those questions eluded me for years so I figured I’d share my thoughts on the role of a mentor, how to find them, and how to keep them engaged as well.

First things first, you need MULTIPLE mentors. Not just one. I doubt you’re going to find 1 person who will deeply understand every single facet of what you need help with. You’ll need what I like to call your personal board of advisors. I personally have separate mentors that I turn to with life issues, sales issues, career issues and a few other things.

Now let’s define what a mentor is. A mentor is not this Godly figure that swoops down from the heavens and know exactly all the answers to your challenges are. A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor with specific subject matter expertise. With that said, I consider some of my close friends mentors because they have great experience in certain things.

How often should you engage with mentors? Unless it’s a close friend of yours, I’ve found that once every 30 – 90 days is appropriate. You need to keep in mind that these folks are incredibly busy and also have a life of their own to manage. When you do lock in a time, make sure that you come prepared with a very specific agenda and ALWAYS express your gratitude for their time, it goes a long way.

Last, how do you find these elusive mentors? The first step is find someone you admire and want to emulate. Go to LinkedIn, search the title of a person you’d like to model yourself against or that you believe has expertise in an area that you’re weak (let’s say CRO as an example for a title), and pick the people you believe to be most impressive. From there, go ahead and find their work emails and shoot them a note. Make sure you get across that you’re not looking to sell them on anything and are genuinely just seeking advice. You should literally make your subject line “All I Want is Advice”. Not everyone is going to respond to you, in fact, most won’t. I never said finding a quality mentor is easy 😉

So there it is, the mentor “mystique” demystified. Feel free to email me at kareem@ventureapp.com if you have any questions.