Tag Archives: Mentoring

How mentoring strengthens your edge

Most people think of mentoring as a way to share the expertise gained over a long professional life.  That is a true statement, but not nearly comprehensive, since mentoring can expand your horizons in so many ways.

Fr those of us who may be semi retired, or flunking  retirement in my case, being an active mentor keeps you engaged in an ongoing business, like being a board member without the fiduciary obligations.  Moreover, it can keep you current in what is going on in the business segment today.  That currency is so important and so seldom appropriately valued.

Back in the M Squared days, I had a framework for evaluating consulting expertise, the “4 Vs”.  It frustrated me that so many people interviewed consultants as though they were hires, when by definition they are not. As such, it is important to screen for other factors, like the ability of the consultant to work in different environments, i.e., their Versatility.

The Vigor factor, was the idea that to be successful, you need to keep current with your craft.  Various professional disciplines achieve this by having continuing education requirements, whether it be in medicine or the the law .  But how does a marketing consultant keep current, or a CFO, a compensation consultant etc? There are ways, like attending conferences and doing research. When hiring a consultant, it is important to understand this dimension of their expertise.

Being a mentor can add vigor to your experience, because you are staying current with your mentee’s business.  Slack wasn’t around when I stepped down ( the second time) from M Squared, but I understand its power because of my connection with other ongoing businesses.  Similarly, I am getting new insights into how companies must recruit and manage millenials which differs from how I dealt with the gen-xers.  Having those new perspectives arrayed against the depth of experience makes for some very powerful insight to share.  It’s all good.

As for the other Vs, feel free to guess…

 

 

Unexpected Returns from Mentoring

We all hear that as successful business people we need to give back and we should be mentors. Cheryl Sandberg has made an industry of women mentoring up and coming women in all sorts of organizations.  The value proposition to the mentor though has been presented as a duty by virtue of our experience and expertise, and that is doing the role a disservice.  The truth of the matter is being a mentor is a tremendous  learning experience as much for the mentor as the “mentee”.

When I started my business, I was in the Young Entrepreneurs Organization  or YEO  (now just EO, since they lost the young part…).  Through an affiliation with  WPO, the World Presidents, of which I am now a member, I was matched with two great mentors.  One was my go-to-guy on financial management issues, and the other was a great marketeer who was invaluable to me years later when I sold my business. He was the one who at a wonderful dinner of YEOers and their mentors, toasted our relationship saying that  being a mentor was in ways more rewarding  than being a father, because unlike his children,  I actually listened to everything he said.

Now fast forward some 20 years and in the spirit of turn about is fair play, through WPO,  I have a few mentor relationships of my own.  They are  with entrepreneurs who have very successful professional services businesses, different from M Squared but still in the human capital space.  At times we may talk about difficult or unforeseen issues, but typically we focus on moving the business forward.  It is wonderful to make a suggestion or an introduction that could strengthen a new direction.  Similarly, sharing tough moments  can often resonate for my younger colleague  as he/she faces a difficult decision.   In those conversations you learn about yourself for in the telling is the lesson.

Yesterday I learned even more, for yesterday I discussed my new business idea with one of these exceptional leaders. Her perspective was very valuable, and fresh, since she is in an adjacent business constantly.  She let me know about quasi-competitors or substitute services of which I had been unaware.  She questioned certain premises and raised new issues.  I learned not only more about the business segment I am exploring, but I learned more about  her critical thinking processes, the questions she would ask and the approaches she might take.  It was enlightening, refreshing and energizing.

They say mentoring is a way to give back  But, with an homage to the holiday season, it is in the giving that you receive.

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