A couple weeks ago I berated my readers for not having mentors to help them through the trials and tribulations of starting a business.
What I didn’t talk about, though, was how to get kickass mentors to willingly give their time and energy to help you accomplish your startup and entrepreneurial goals.
Don’t think I just wanted to leave you hanging.
While you were in shock and licking your wounds from that article, I was out finding someone I could interview…someone who had already found phenomenal success in finding awesome mentors…so I could bring them on over to Decoding Startups to share their knowledge with everyone here.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to report that my search was successful.
Enter Liz Seda.
Liz is the writer over at A Life on Your Terms, which teaches how to live a purposeful, meaningful life on our own terms.
Liz’s life story–which she talks about on her blog and a bit in our interview–is extremely interesting (my favorite part is how she got into college without taking the SAT. I wish I had that one figured out in high school!!!), and her accomplishments impressive.
I cajoled Liz into giving this interview because she is actively working with some awesome mentors in the blogosphere- Scott Dinsmore and Leo Babauta. When I heard this, I knew she’d be a perfect interviewee for my segment on finding kickass mentors.
Common concerns people have about finding mentors we addressed:
- How do I even start to approach a mentor?
- How do I provide value to a potential mentor? Aren’t I just taking all of their time?
- Tons of people ask them for things: how do I stick out?
- How do I make the relationship mutually beneficial for them, even though they’re smarter / more knowledgeable than I am?
Some of the best insights from the interview:
- How a 15-paragraph e-mail convinced an A-list blogger to take her under his wings (and they said “short e-mails are better”!).
- How providing value before asking for anything in return earned her the respect and admiration of 2 A-list bloggers.
- How much easier things have been for her after building relationships with ultra-helpful mentors.
Here’s the big takeaways from the interviews:
- Always ask how you can provide value to someone else before trying to take value.
- Business = people; people = relationships. Focus on the people and relationship element first.
- You probably can offer value to people with more experience and expertise than you…just be creative with how you do it (Liz was able to!).
In the comments below, elaborate a bit on your mentors. How did you get them? How did you convince them to help you?