Do this to get kickass mentors to help you with your venture

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 Termswhich 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?

 Check the interview out here.

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?


It’s All About Trust- 2 new post types that will give you inside details into my startups

So far, my fine people, you’ve read my articles telling you about all of the wonderful things I’ve learned from trudging through the startup trenches and barely coming out alive…

I’ve talked about how to crush your excuses, 5 things you can do RIGHT NOW to be an entrepreneur, and the 4 myths of entrepreneurship (which decimates my arch-enemy myth “you need to know how to program to be an entrepreneur”).

As much as I like sitting on my pedestal sharing with you my “learned-the-hard-way” lessons, it’s time to add 2 more things to the mix.  Here’s what, and why:

Every Friday, I will alternate between a “Dear Diary” post and a Q&A post.

The “Dear Diary” is a look at the progress I’ve made on my ventures within the last 2 weeks since the previous update.

The Q&A post takes a concern from a reader, and hashes it out.

Why am I doing this?

Because trust is key.

I want you to know that what I write about is 1.) something I am actually actively doing and learning from in my own life (i.e. the “Dear Diary” post), as opposed to just writing some grandiloquent, untested ideas, and 2.) is something that addresses actual concerns that you guys have (the Q&A post).

There’s tons of bloggers who just write random bullshit that they don’t actually know about.  Frankly, I’d say that’s most entrepreneurship blogs I’ve found: people who have never actually started a business that think “well, since I’m starting a blog, that means I’m an entrepreneur now!”…yeah right, man.  Stop wasting our time.

Next Friday’s post (Dec 14) will be a “Dear Diary”, where I talk about my ventures.

And I’ll do a Q&A for the Friday after that (Dec 21).


I could go in a million different directions with the “Dear Diary” and Q&A post, so I need you to let me know:

  1. For the Q&A, what’s a question you have about entrepreneurship?  Is it something you’re considering doing and you have a pressing question?  Or are you in the midst of a startup, and are having some problems?
  2. For the “Dear Diary”, what would interest you the most?  Hearing about how I came up with my ideas?  Hearing how I recruited programmers and business partners?  How I got publicity for my ideas, and recruited beta testers?  My failures?  (haha…I think I know which one you’re going to pick!)

Shoot me a quick e-mail and help me out with these.

Thanks guys; as always, I’m looking forward to this.