I can’t stress this enough! Mentors are amazing, I have been lucky to have many over the course of my life, each one different, each one an expert at something.
I have seen a lot of formal mentoring content as of late and I think a lot of it is shit. The concept is simple to find someone that you connect with and that you can learn from but you can’t force that, sure you might find someone in a formal process but you need to learn to see who your potential mentors are. I found my mentors from those people that were around me, those that had shown some level of interest or that would simply answer my questions. I saw them be willing to engage with me in a small way and kept pushing it.
One of the mentors who had the biggest impact was one of my Professors at SMU, Ellen Farrell, who I will fully admit I did not like at first…. okay, I may have said I hated her a few times. She pushed me, questions my work, and being the arrogant kid I was, I totally hated that.
She made me so mad I changed how I did things, re-did previous work, there was no way I was going to have it happen again. She made an impact on me that has lasted to this day! Our relationship has grown since then, I took more classes she taught, participated in events and competitions she directed me to, even attended an event that leads to me having a job when I graduated. Hell, she is the reason I actually went to my convocation (for which my Mom is eternally grateful), something that looking back I would have regretted missing.
I still go back to campus years after I have graduated to sit in her office and chat, to hear about the cool things her students are doing and to discuss whatever I am working on. She is a constant source of motivation for me.
One of my mentors, Andy Osburn, was actually my boss and I never really thought of him as a mentor but if you asked me to describe my relationship with him I would probably be describing a mentor. Andy is a seasoned Tech Entrepreneur who had run multiple companies, successfully secured funding and remained mostly sane (if a little sarcastic) in the process.
Andy gave me my first real job out of university and let me create my own role in his company Equals6. He gave me a lot of control, he trusted me to make my own hours, and he let me have real input while also giving me direction when I was wrong. He also made it so I am probably a terrible employee if you expect a 9-5’er.
I no longer work with Equals6 but still have a key to the office, I am welcome in any time to work at my old desk if I need a place to work and we are both only an email away if needed.
I was listening to Lewis Howes talk to ET the Hip Hop Preacher when they started talking about mentors and how in the current world people can be your Mentor, give you direction and drive, without you ever meeting them. We live in such an open society with so much access to people that you can gain a lot from simply following and listening to content they produce. I may make the distinction to mention they are not real world mentors to me but that doesn’t mean I don’t count them on my list.
If you don’t know who Lewis Howes is, you are just like I was 6 months ago. Lewis is a successful author and entrepreneur, he also hosts one of the podcasts I listen to religiously, “The School Of Greatness”. It's basically listening to a really motivated Entrepreneur talk to other really successful people who happen to be experts in other areas, it’s like a mentor crash course.
I could throw all the research in the world at you to justify that you need a mentor, but at the end of the day, I am a man who things we learn best by doing. Really assess who has taken an interest in you, your goals and your successes and then foster that relationship. The benefits you will receive will be proof enough.
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