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Stop Waiting for the Mythical Mentor

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For entrepreneurs, the concept of mentorship is one that can be both powerful and elusive. Mentors can help you perform better, point out shortcomings in your business model and make introductions to help further your career.

However, many of us spent a good deal of time without ever finding that one perfectly wise, helpful, been-there-done-that successful individual to take us under his or her wings and navigate the bumpy road to success.

I advocate that you stop waiting for this mythical mentor and instead, embrace the idea of the five-minute mentor. I learned this concept from Gary W. Goldstein, the former Hollywood producer of films like Pretty Woman and Under Siege, who now "produces" businesses.

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Gary elucidated that the traditional concept of a be-all-end-all Yoda type isn't the only way to be mentored. Mentors are all around us and while we spend time looking for that one long-term relationship, you may be missing the five-minute mentors who can teach you important lessons, help you elevate your game and more.

Here are some examples of five-minute mentorship that I have noticed or participated in recently:

  • I witnessed in the green room at a major network a seasoned TV veteran giving honest and thoughtful feedback to another regular, but younger TV personality.
  • I was giving an interview to a reporter in a taxi on the way to the airport regarding customer loyalty in business. When we arrived at the airport, the taxi driver told me that he had been listening to the conversation and learned a lot, thanking me for sharing the knowledge (even though it wasn't directed to him).
  • I had a contact provide an introduction to a business contact who was herself a potential business prospect for me.
  • I had a peer, who had more years of media experience than I do, share some insights on the challenges, frustrations and opportunities of punditry over coffee several years ago.
  • I have studied the work of people that I have never met, to emulate and up my game.

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All of these examples represent different mentorship opportunities. Moreover, there are plenty more of these types of scenarios all around you.

I've never found a permanent mentor, but have had some interim longer-term mentors from time-to-time. In each of those cases, it was an organic evolution from a relationship that started out in a five-minute mentor manner. And given that entrepreneurs often have a wide variety of changing needs, it can be much more beneficial to draw from a larger knowledgebase provided by a wide variety of mentors.

So, change your thinking and pay attention, because you never know who might become your mentor -- if even for only a few minutes -- and help you take your business to the next level.

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