I am a big fan of mentorship.
From very early in my career to the present, I have often looked to others for guidance, leadership and advice. By maintaining a high degree of self-awareness and knowing I don’t have the answer to everything, I am the kind of mentee who authentically works to apply the lessons passed on to me by the mentors I admire.
And at the same time have paid it forward by providing insight to aspiring founders. At Porch we place an emphasis on mentorship throughout all levels of the company. From day one we look to create connections between those who seek (or need) mentorship and those who are willing to provide it.
Outside of work when I am asked for career advice I often play the mentorship card early on. When someone asks me “Why do a need a mentor?” my answer is pretty straightforward: We all need people who can keep it real with us. Mentors cut through our own BS, give us perspective and encourage us to see the world in a different way. Great mentors ensure that we are asking ourselves (and those around us) the right questions so we keep the horizon in front of us as broad as possible.
So, how do you find a great mentor?
Related: 7 Surprising Truths About Mentors
Here are three tips to get the process going.
1. Focus on empathy and distance.
One of the character traits I look for in people is their sense of empathy. Do they have an understanding for how others see the world? I have found that mentors who sit further from my part of the business and focus area have really helped me strengthen my empathy muscles.
For example, I have found great mentors on the product development, analytics, finance and business development side of life. Whatever topic or question you are looking to address they are more likely to give you a perspective that is free from any nearby influences. They will open up your view of the world and won’t serve you the Kool-Aid you already made for yourself.
2. Don’t' think single mindedly.
One of the mistakes people make when it comes to mentorship is finding one person who will be a one-stop shop for all of their needs. This way of thinking is not fair to the mentor and it is a disservice to you. Chances are your company is filled with a lot of interested people with a lot of amazing perspectives and experiences to pull from. Take advantage of this and give yourself the freedom to approach multiple people. Give people certain topics and be transparent in what you need. This will ensure that you get the very best out of them while at the same time giving your exposure to a diverse set of inputs.
3. Find someone who has time to be a GREAT mentor.
On paper somebody may look like a great mentor. Perhaps they are in a position you want to one day find yourself in or their resume screams with experience. If that person is not passionate about mentorship then chances are you won’t get a lot of valuable insight from them. You need to be transparent in your needs. What do you want someone to help you with – specifically. What is in it for them? How will you make great use of their time? If you make the experience enjoyable and worthwhile for them, you are on your way towards creating a durable relationship that will last for years to come.