A Mentor as defined by Google is an “experienced or trusted adviser” now most people might say “hey I’m a mentor, I give advice all the time”. Unfortunately that is not mentoring, a mentor is someone who is invested in you and he or she will give you advice and then (important) follow up on the progress you have made. Liz Russell has the best definition of a mentor (check out her article: The best mentoring advice I have received)
Mentors are great, they help you achieve your goals faster, think of Mentors as a way to fast track your progress (not a quick fix),if you have a business, a mentor will let you avoid all the major mistakes of business, because they’ll be able to guide you and so your business will grow faster.
How to get a mentor
Form a Relationship with the person, first become a fan of the person, support their work by sharing it (if they’re on social media) and be interested in the person’s work, because if you want to form a relationship it’ll definitely help your mentor-mentee relationship. The person who you’re trying to get as your mentor will like you more because they’ll be trying to really figure out how to help you.
“add value to them”
If you can add value to the person’s life then they’re more likely to pay attention to you and you add value by e.g. if they’re vlogging offer to help with editing, if they’re podcasters offer to help with show notes or something if they’re bloggers…offer to help run their social feeds and optimize their work by creating quotes etc.
But in this day and age where people are only interested in “themselves” you need to get people’s attention by offering some value to them.
A prime example is Ryan Holiday (Author of Ego is the enemy etc.), he was the research assistant to Robert Greene before he went on his own and through the relationship he formed with Mr. Greene, he in turn was mentored by him and now they have one of the greatest mentor-mentee relationships.
Who can be a mentor
A mentor can be anyone it doesn’t have to be this old kung Fu master who makes you wax his car before you learn how to kick anyone’s ass
Mentors come in many shapes and forms they can be your friends, books (yes, dead people give great advice), your mom, some dude you’re watching on YouTube (in my case Gary Vaynerchuk), an author but essentially a mentor is someone who you can learn something from and then as I believe it’s also their job to occasionally kick your ass for procrastinating.
How not to get a mentor
The worst way to get a mentor is to e-mail/ DM or tweet someone and ask them to mentor you, believe me that does not work, I have tried it and it has failed (miserably) , the way to get a mentor is to build a meaningful relationship with the person, a mentor relationship should be a relationship between two friends but the only difference is that one has more experience than the other. Look at it this way, the way you’ve been trying to get a mentor is the same way as certain people at a networking event, how? well, you're basically that idiot that goes around and hands out business cards and then you wonder why they don’t call you back (it’s because you haven’t formed a relationship with them). People like people they have a bond and relationship with, one of the tools/principles of influence is liking, people are more likely to connect with you if they like you or whatever you’re doing. They will reject you because it isn’t a thing of they don’t want to talk to some dude they don’t know, it’s a they don’t have the mental resources or energy to dedicate to someone they don’t know and to dedicate time to someone new, wouldn’t scale for them.
IF I can’t find one
Try to set up a counsel (like in Game of Thrones, minus the backstabbing and scheming) with someone/people who are more or less on the same level as you, because as much as you want to have Tony Robbins/Tim Ferriss/Ryan Holiday/Tim Denning or whatever big name you can think of, mentor you, they may not be in reach and they might be busy with their stuff. I see it this way , the reason you want a mentor is because you need someone to ask advice from and to keep you accountable and you can get that by linking up with someone who is on a higher level than you but in the same field (Make sure they’re hard workers and not slackers).
Do we really need mentors?
Mentors in essence is learning from other people and a wonderful way to question the need for mentors is to think of how you learned manners and other thing, did you learn them on your own? No! And so to quote Tai Lopez “did you learn language from gut feeling? So, it makes sense to learn life from other people”
A mentor can be described as someone who walks you through a process, but then that can also be skewed if you that’s your definition, why? if you look at Ben Franklin he got better at writing by deconstructing people’s speeches who he’d thought was the best, by writing it down to see if he understands sentence structure and that’s how he got better. He was mentored without having that person present and that’s the same model I adopted because have mentors that I can’t physically access or touch but I can follow them on social media and get a understanding of how they think and then use that understanding to help me make decisions.
The need for a mentor is a subjective topic, because some people believe that they need a mentor (me) and other people certainly do not see the necessity of a mentor, Seth Godin said that he doesn’t believe in the role of a mentor but he does believe in heroes, his exercise is that you need to ask yourself “what would [insert name] do?” and you base your decisions off that. Look if you want to get a mentor you still can, there’s nothing wrong with it, but most of us have mentors we can’t get close to, but we can look at their lives and then make our decisions based on what you know from the other person. So answer to if mentors are needed, is really a personal preference because some people can shadow others and learn from a distance but there are people who need to be in contact with someone.
Hi! I’m Danley, if you like what I write please share it and if you have something to add, do leave a comment. If want to read more of what I wrote, I strongly encourage it (psst! Click on my name).
The value of mentors was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.