10 Tips to Find (and Keep) the Perfect Mentor
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears,” is a timeless quote. But finding a mentor can be challenging, not to mention finding someone who’s right for your needs, strengths, and shortcomings.
These Advisors in The Oracles share how to find the perfect mentor—and be the exceptional mentee.
1. Make everyone your mentor.
I have the mindset that everyone I come in contact with is a mentor and I’m going to learn from them every day. I look at those around me who perform their jobs well and are inspiring leaders. I look for those who plan and communicate effectively. Then I emulate what they do well.
I’ve also learned a lot from those who are not good leaders. Maybe they were negative or condescending or didn’t listen to their team. I’ve learned as much from them as from great leaders. So to me, everyone is a mentor. —Jocko Willink, retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer, #1 NYT bestselling author, co-founder of Echelon Front, partner in Origin USA, and host of the top-rated “Jocko Podcast”
2. Find someone who’s living your dream.
No matter what challenges you’re facing, you’re not alone. Others have been there and have the answers. Figuring it out on your own is a wasted effort.
Reach out to entrepreneurs who are living your dream. Offer something of value, but don’t shove an idea down their throat. Impress them by demonstrating a skill that can help their business. Build the relationship first. Your other option is to pay for a consultation. It’s expensive, but not as expensive as trying it on your own, making mistakes, and prolonging your success.
Whatever you do, don’t send a Facebook message saying, “I have a game-changing idea. Let’s talk!” I get those all the time, and I ignore them. Lastly, don’t listen to broke people. (Yes, that may include your parents.) —Billy Gene Shaw III, founder and CEO of Billy Gene Is Marketing, one of the world’s top online marketing influencers, educators, and practitioners; follow on Instagram and Facebook
3. Earn their attention with kind gestures.
One person can’t be your mentor in everything. First, define your personal standard of excellence. Then identify someone who's living above that standard in the area you need help.
If you want a long-lasting relationship, find someone with the lasting love you want; not the person who’s been divorced five times because they’ve “done it the most.” In business, learn from the person who’s succeeded in the area you want to accomplish; not the person who’s unemployed but listens to podcasts all day so they “know what they’re talking about."
Second, get their attention. This is tricky because most people at the top aren’t actively looking for someone to mentor. But with social media, it’s easy to observe those you seek mentorship from to figure their current needs and goals.
I fostered a friendship and mentorship with a massive influencer because they were doing a book launch. Their goal was to sell as many books as they could, as quickly as possible. I bought 700 copies for my community, filmed a two-minute review of why I liked the book, posted it on Facebook, and paid to boost the video to get a lot of views.
The influencer noticed. I got an email, which turned into a phone call, which turned into a lunch, which has since evolved into a three-year friendship and mentorship. I helped them without expecting anything in return; they noticed and reciprocated. —Cole Hatter, full-time dad and husband, part-time owner of five seven-figure businesses, investor, and founder of Thrive: Make Money Matter; follow Cole on Instagram
4. Be open to tough love.
Find someone who specializes in your type of business and can support the current stage in your journey. For example, I know product, but not technology. My recommendations depend on where your business is between birth to youth and maturity (stages I explain in my book). Beginners need encouragement not to quit. But in “youth,” money for inventory is often the killer.
Be willing to accept tough love and listen. One mentee asked for help getting into retail, but I told her that would kill her business. Instead, I helped her go into online sales. We raised over $80,000 on Kickstarter, and she did about $3 million on Facebook last year. We just raised another $1.1 million to bring her business to Amazon. —Brian Smith, founder of UGG boots, corporate speaker, and author of “The Birth of a Brand,” now available in audio for its 40th anniversary
5. Ensure your personalities vibe.
Take advice from those who’ve accomplished what you want, in the way you want to achieve it. They’ll know your struggles inside out.
I've found the best mentors through mutual friends. It's important to see if your personalities vibe. For example, if you struggle with taking direct feedback and your mentor likes to give it, you might end up resenting them.
A mentor needs to see that you're committed to making progress. If you're not willing to implement their advice, why would they give you their time? Take action if you agree with the advice. If you don't agree, don’t commit to action you won’t take; challenge them instead. —Natalie Ellis, award-winning serial entrepreneur and CEO of BossBabe, the world’s largest online community of ambitious women with a six-figure monthly recurring revenue; follow Natalie on Instagram
6. Take an interest and action.
Most people who ask me for mentoring are only interested in their goals. The surefire way to repel a mentor is to believe you’re entitled to one. For me, finding the right mentor begins when I take a genuine, selfless interest in someone I respect. I determine how I can add value to their lives or business. Then I don’t have to ask them to mentor me—they volunteer.
Once you have a mentor, take action. Mentors do what they do to impact others and see their wisdom live on. After all, they earned it through years of challenges. So, nothing is more disheartening than when a mentee asks for advice and avoids taking the recommended action. Your mentor is giving you their two most valuable possessions: their wisdom and time. If you remember that, many people will want to help you. —Kenny Rueter, CEO and co-founder of Kajabi
7. Earn it.
To find a great mentor, you must have something to offer—and not just a great idea. But if you have a great idea and you’re also working two full-time jobs, going to bed early, getting up early, meditating, and exercising, then mentors will appear seemingly out of nowhere.
Be kind to everyone you meet. Guard against negative thoughts. Take a walk each morning and make a walking gratitude list. Say it out loud if you can. Never ask a mentor to invest or give you something. Avoid flattery and always tell the truth. —Khalil Rafati, founder of SunLife Organics, homeless drug addict turned spiritual advisor for rockstars and billionaires; follow Khalil’s adventures on Instagram and read his story: “I Forgot to Die”
8. Do your research, come ready to give, and execute without question.
Don’t invest thousands in an expensive coach with a big name. Find someone who is where you want to be in three to five years. Why? They can still relate to you.
Before approaching a potential mentor, I always invest in their product or service. I want to see if I resonate with the quality of their products or services, team, and customer service. If I do, I sell their products as an affiliate and see what response I get from my followers. Then I ask if I can help with their customer service. This gives you insight into how they do business, and then you can work out a mentor relationship.
As a mentor, I’ve found that ex-military and ex-athletes make the best students. They don’t question anything, they just execute and report back with results. Then we regroup, re-strategize, and move their business forward. —Jeff Sherman, founder and CEO of Tech Sweat LLC; serial entrepreneur who has launched five businesses and impacted over 5,000 fitness businesses in six countries
9. Look for strengths that complement your weaknesses.
Find a mentor with the business and lifestyle you want. Then ensure they have strengths to complement your weaknesses and can help you fine-tune your strengths. Ensure your values align. Money isn’t everything. Just because they’re financially successful doesn't mean they’re the right mentor for you.
I met my mentor at a marketing event. He took me under his wing for several reasons. We had similar businesses, so he knew I could implement what he taught me. I’d reached six figures, so he knew I was serious. He also knew I’d listen to everything he recommended. We liked each other and knew that we could work well together. —Chance Welton, founder and CEO of Beachwood Marketing LLC and The Millionaire Middleman Agency Coaching Program
10. Don’t stop until you find 'the one.'
Think of a mentor as a GPS navigator. A great coach understands your intended destination and helps you find the best route. They don’t judge you for wrong turns along the way. Instead, they simply ask questions that help you self-discover and grow into who you want to become.
Finding the perfect coach is also like finding your spouse. You likely need to explore different people before finding the “one.” Chemistry is important in any relationship, and mentoring is no exception. If you don’t like your coach, “break up” with them and find another one. Trust your gut. When you find the perfect coach, you’ll know—and your results will prove it! —Shaun Rawls, author, lifelong entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Rawls Consulting
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