Mentors: Curious Bedfellows

 

Mentorship can be the secret sauce to building something from nothing. Mentors can share lessons that sometimes translate into short cuts and insights that can guide a new entrepreneur away from a known pitfall. They can guide and encourage, motivate and inspire. Yes and yes some more.

But not all mentors are created equal. Sigh.

‘It’s All About Me’ Mentors

We have all experienced this. No word of a lie – I have spent HOURS with people who do little more than chit chat about their wins and successes. And there is learning there – most definitely. But how about your losses? I have learned more from my falls in life. And what about asking me questions about what I am trying to create? See where the two meet? I find I can be most helpful when I know where I fit in.

Passive Aggressive Mentors

You know the type: “You can do it that way. That’s fine. It might work. Probably not. Not how I would do it.” Phark. This shit just motivates me. You aren’t willing to share how to do it but are quick to tell me how not to do it. Just watch me do exactly what you are passive aggressively telling me not to do. Just watch me.

The Listener

I love a listener. I have fortunately had more of this type of guidance in my professional life than all of the others combined. A listener will dial in, understand the need, share experiences and feedback on the direction you have chosen. It is a real back and forth and has an inherent understanding that not all businesses are thsame, even if they occupy similar spaces.

My Favorite Bit of Mentor Advice EVER

I met with a king in the packaged food space over a year ago. Talk about unassuming. He asked questions and slotted in valuable insight woven through his own relevant, real life experiences and stories that included moments of just falling flat and his own very humble beginnings. I left that hour with him inspired and motivated and confident.

I was concerned going into that meeting that I was entering the market a little late. There were already some balls on the market so I had lost that novelty factor I was keen to capitalize on. But he said: “Bring the sizzle. Everyone can market a steak. Good beef. Right fat ratio. Organic. Ethically farmed. You name it. But it is the guy who brings the sizzle who is the guy who will sell the most steaks.”

My take away was to stand apart in every decision I made around the marketing of the product – hence…AMAZEBALLS. Very little in the health food space is fun and light and playful – cheery even. It drove the look of the logo, the colours we used, the language around the product. Everything. And continues to drive how I talk about the product in a cheeky and light way. Thank you, Peter.

 

 
Michele Parent