Former Apple CEO John Sculley on What Makes a True Mentor

Guest Writer
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

All entrepreneurs and leaders benefit from having a good mentor – that's something former Apple and Pepsi CEO John Sculley feels very strongly about. In fact, looking back, he admits that he could have used one during his time running Apple in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Throughout his long career, Sculley has come to realize that even the savviest, most intelligent and creative entrepreneurs often get distracted trying to solve the wrong problems and answer the wrong questions when they are first starting up. Oftentimes, they are too close to their fledgling company to maintain an objective viewpoint. Which is where a mentor comes in.

Related: Former Apple and Pepsi CEO John Sculley: Great Marketers Do This

Mentors provide "a trusted other pair of eyes," Sculley says. Ideally, they are individuals who have extensive experience starting and running businesses, which is why, in his view, serial entrepreneurs "make for the best mentors."

But it's important to realize what a mentor is not. A mentor, Sculley says, should never be making key decisions for your company; he or she is not a "co-decider" but a sounding board, someone who can provide much needed outside advice and perspective.

A mentor is also not a competitor. There should never be an ulterior motive or agenda, Sculley says. "They're not there to get your job." Instead, mentors are people who "you've built a friendship with and an admiration for.”

Watch the above video to hear Sculley lay down exactly what a mentor is…and what he or she isn't.

Related: Former Apple CEO John Sculley: Steve Jobs Sold Experiences, Not Products

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