What is the value in mentorship? How does an experience with a mentor (or being a mentor) impact the personal and professional life of an entrepreneur?
These were the questions discussed at our Rare Birds ‘Meet My Mentor’ event with panelists Vanessa Cullen (Principal of Forward Thinking Design), Ron Geekie (CEO Coach and TEC Chair of The Executive Connection) and Shan Shan Wang (Founder and CEO of Roam Technologies). Led by Rare Birds Founder and CEO Jo Burston, the panel shared their experiences of mentoring and being mentored throughout their entrepreneurial journeys. Key learnings included:
Mentoring is experience sharing, rather than advice giving.
Ron noted ‘the best mentors don’t give advice, but know how to ask the right questions’. As Ron’s mentoree, Vanessa said that sometimes Ron will keep asking her questions ‘until I’ve figured out my own answer…’
For Shan Shan Wang, her mentors have often prevented her from making costly mistakes through sharing their own challenges and how they overcame them.
Time with your mentor is precious – go in prepared.
It’s important to remember that your mentor’s time and knowledge is valuable, and you are privileged to have it. In short – don’t waste their time (or yours)! Jo said she would always go into a meeting with her mentor with ‘a list of questions as long as my arm’. Before you meet, prepare questions, a list of areas you’re stuck on, financial plans, anything that you need advice on to discuss with your mentor.
It’s personal, AND it’s business.
A mentor and mentoree may be very different personalities, or very similar – either way it’s important to find a mentor you can connect with on a personal level as well as professionally. This will allow you to be 100% authentic and honest in your discussions with them and help your mentor to support you in whatever way is necessary.