Community//

Finding a Mentor

What I learned from a guest lecturer who changed my life

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I met my mentor when he was a guest lecturer in one of my classes at U.C. Berkeley. At that point in my life, I had no idea what a mentorship relationship looked like. Fortunately, my mentor had mentored in the past and had an excellent structure for our relationship. My mentor was not in the same field as I was. He was a successful entrepreneur in the automotive business and I was in the middle of founding a nonprofit. However, I admired his approach to business. His advice was universal. He had ingenious logic balanced with high emotional intelligence and he had lots of great tips and tools that helped me improve my business skills. Most importantly he was invested in my success. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.

A good mentor has the ability to help you reframe your perspective and reach your full potential. Here are some things I learned from finding a mentor who changed my life:

Factors to consider when looking for a mentor:

You feel like their personality fits with yours.

Lives in close proximity so that they can potentially introduce you to local resources.

You admire their approach to their career and life.

Has the title, position or experience you’re hoping to achieve in the next few years.

Your mentor should:

Respect you and be invested in your success.

Not force their disposition on you, but instead view their advice as an offering which you can choose to accept or decline without taking offense.

Be a good listener and provide constructive feedback.

Challenge you to achieve greater success.

Identifying your ideal mentor:

Write down people you think of as potential mentors.

If you don’t personally know someone, you can research people who are accessible (not the CEO of Google).

Go to conferences, talks or events where high caliber people attend.

Ask people you already know if they know of someone who would serve as a good mentor.

Suggestions for asking someone to be your mentor:

Be specific with what you are looking for in a mentor. That way they know what they are signing up for and you get what it is you need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure it is the right fit. You will want to ask in person whether she/he would be willing to mentor you. Don’t ask over the phone or through email. Emphasize why you think he/she would make a good mentor and what you hope to gain through working together.  Having a strong sense of your needs can help both of you to make sure it is the right fit. The best mentorship relationship has a clear agreement. Most people who would make a good mentor are busy people, so you want to make sure to respect their time and adapt your schedule to theirs as opposed to having them adjust their schedule to yours. 

This is an excerpt in the Tools For Success chapter of Vekita Full Potential Guidebook, which helps you get clear on career and life choices – vekitapd.com

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