The power of mentors
Posted by Luke on February 20, 2010
I recently came across an article on Inc. Magazine’s website that resonated with my feelings about mentors. I’ve developed several mentoring relationships that have helped me tremendously in various aspects of my life – personally, professionally, as a husband and father, and as an executive. The Inc. article states that Warren Buffet is Bill Gates’ mentor. Interesting how one of the most successful people in the world is trying to continue to learn from others.
Why mentors are important to me:
I define a mentor as a person with more experience in life, business, family, etc. who I want to learn from and who is willing to invest his/her time to help me become a better person. He/she is committed to my development, coaches me in my thinking, and helps me overcome challenges. A mentor could be a boss or it could be someone not associated with your job or profession. In my case, I have mentors associated with Eco-Products and completely unassociated with the company. I also feel extremely fortunate to have multiple mentors.
For me, each mentor relationship has a slightly different dynamic. However, there are three themes consistent throughout.
- They are built upon honesty, trust, and confidentiality.
- They all want to see me succeed – in business, in life, as a husband and father. It’s an inspiring feeling knowing that.
- I have a very high degree of respect for them.
How I found my mentors:
It can take time, years even, to find the type of mentor you might be looking for. If the first Inc. article didn’t spur ideas on finding a mentor, here’s another article that might help. I haven’t formally asked anyone to be my mentor. I’ve just made it a point to solicit their guidance, genuinely try to learn from them, and keep in touch through lunches, beers, emails, cards, etc. I have found my mentors through the following avenues, some of which are pretty unorthodox:
- Guest speakers in my MBA classes (I was the annoying kiss-ass student who would go up and talk to the speakers after class)
- A reference for a job applicant (he seemed like someone I wanted to learn from, and I had a perfect excuse to call him)
- Board members
- Asking our corporate attorney to introduce me to some CEOs/executives around town
- Family friends
- Referrals from people in my network
You can tell I’m a big believer in these types of relationships. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without the coaching and guidance from my circle of mentors. So to those who have invested time and energy into me, thank you 1000 times over. You have no idea the impact you have on my life.