How do I find a good mentor/advisor?

Step 1: Identify what you want to learn.

Step 2: Identify who is BEST at it.

  1. Aligned with your goals/values.
  2. Easy to work with.
  3. Gets your space/Industry/technology.
  4. Functional expertise — sales/marketing/development…
  5. Business Model experience — marketplace/freemium/membership/B2B…
  6. Has a Network — connected and willing to make connections.
  7. Has geographic relevance — to you or your customers.

Step 3: Get on their radar.

  1. Do your research:
  • Find out where they “hang out”, both in-person and virtually.
  • How are you connected to them? Who in your existing network might help you get closer to them?
  1. Attend the events that they attend, be present in the online channels that they are active in.
  2. Ask questions (smart questions of course), engage in discussion. You want them to notice that you’re smart, proactive, and not afraid to speak up.
  3. Hack: Get to know people in their network first. It’s often easier to approach their mentees, their friends, even their family members.
  1. Decided that he wanted to learn how to rake in the $$$
  2. Decided that Dan Lok — a local Vancouver based entrepreneur was someone who could best guide him on that given his track record and background in copywriting.
  3. Started attending all of Dan Lok’s Meetups, started networking and meeting all of Dan Lok’s mentees.
  4. When he was finally introduced to Dan Lok, it was a very warm introduction. Dan Lok actually said (and I paraphrase here):
  • “Great to finally meet you, I’ve heard so much about you from people in my network, even my wife has mentioned you a few times”.
  1. I wanted to start an incubator. But to do it, I first thought that it was important to build a successful business of my own.
  2. Joined a bunch of different workshops by various incubators in Vancouver.
  3. Met Keith Ippel, decided that his philosophy of building good businesses that not only profited, but also made the world a better place in the process really appealed to me.
  4. Started volunteering for Spring, got to know the entire team at Spring, enrolled in one of their programs.
  5. Only formally approached Keith to make him my mentor after completing the program and when I felt our relationship was strong enough.
  6. Ended up getting hired at Spring (I decided that my best way to learn from Keith was to work directly under him).

Step 4: Build a relationship with them.

Mentors

  • Typically not compensated.
  • Can be informal.
  • Provide you with both business and personal advice.
  • Usually for broader goals.
  • People you aspire towards and are inspired by.

Advisors

  • Typically compensated.
  • $$$
  • Shares
  • In-kind/perks/products
  • Usually formalized.
  • Vested (if shares).
  • Terminated if the objective has been met/goals have changed/project is completed.
  • Usually <2 years (as their ability to support diminishes as you and your business evolve over time).
  • Business focused.

Step 5? Make them your mentor.

Making the best out of your mentor.

  1. You need to lead the relationship.
  • The mentor may have insights that have helped them in their life/situation, but remember, your situation may not be identical.
  • Don’t blindly implement advice, understand why, and evaluate if it fits your objectives and serves you/your business.
  1. Know what questions to ask.
  • Be specific with your needs and areas of uncertainty — yes, but sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. This is their job to point out your blind spots, but you still need to help them with raising your specific questions.
  • Never ask the same question twice — it indicates that you didn’t listen the first time, or didn’t take action and are facing the same problem again.
  1. Be diligent on deliverables, do what you say you’ll do. Report on results and lessons learned.
  2. Be vulnerable and transparent.
  • Mentors can’t give good advice if they don’t see the whole picture. Don’t worry about “looking good” and impressing them.
  • Many business challenges can be traced to personal problems, expose those too if you’re aware of them.
  1. Send regular updates
  • Emails/calls/meetings as appropriate.
  • Set up a regular schedule — weekly/monthly/quarterly.
  • Consistency is key to build a strong relationship and keep the momentum going — remember “out of sight, out of mind”.
  1. Get them active and not just online/passive.
  • Have them make intros for you.
  • Get them to visit your office in-person so they can really get a feel for the situation and your team.
  • Have whiteboard sessions together.
  • But you should never have them do your work for you — they help with strategy and can show you how if necessary, but you should be the one that executes.

Mentor meetings

  • Have an agenda.
  • Send documents in advance — so you don’t have to spend time playing catchup.
  • Respect their time.
  • 30-min to 1-hour max.
  • Don’t be late.
  • Start with Q&A.
  • Let them ask clarifying questions.
  • Know what questions you have and what you’re looking for clarity on.
  • Stick to your main discussion plans and don’t go off-topic.
  • Wrap up with specific Action Items.

Final comments

--

--

--

Startup go-to-market and sales specialist, father, avid packrafter

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Howie Liu — Co-Founder & CEO of Airtable

A Liberal Start-Up Story & What Leads Us Ahead

Behind Our Fourth Investment: Why Bringly?

Jaclynn Brennan and Summer YL of FYLI: Why the best teams have true relationships and friendships…

Stax: 2021 Review

Transparency — Newion Investments

Celebrating Series A

FAPAPRENUER & MAPAPRENUER

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Chang Chin Hing

Chang Chin Hing

Startup go-to-market and sales specialist, father, avid packrafter

More from Medium

This Is How You Make Your Content Go Viral

Inside the mind of — Eve Ann Wong

5 Skills You Need to be a Community Manager

What I Learned This Week (11-Jan-2021 to 17-Jan-2021)