Mentoring is Not About Creating Clones

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

Over the years I’ve mentored dozens of people in a mutitude of industries, real estate, musical retail, software development, gaming and more. There seems to exist a mindset in some circles that the mentee should emulte thier mentor as much as possible if they wish to achieve similar success as their mentor and I say that’s total bullshit. I got to where I am through a lot of hard learned series of trial and error, success and failure. What I desire more than anything as a mentor is to spare my mentee the pain and loss accociated with my many errors and failures in my life and career. If I can help them avoid the same mistakes as I made then hopefully they can achieve even greater success in a shorter period of time.

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3 Reasons Why Social Entrepreneurs Need A Mentor

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” For social entrepreneurs, this quote is understood at the core. If you’re dedicating your career to changing your community or society at large, you’re likely in your line of work for its benefit to others. But, as a leader with lofty goals, you must take a break from the give to make sure you have enough get.

January is National Mentoring Month, the perfect month to assess how you’re being filled up and rejuvenated as a leader. Though social entrepreneurs are externally motivated and focus their time and ambitions on others, it’s important not to forget to give back to yourself, for your sake and for those you are helping.


Source: 3 Reasons Why Social Entrepreneurs Need A Mentor

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How this Syrian refugee became a tech mentor

Asem Hasna has come a long way in the last few years.

In 2012, he was a university student in war-torn Syria. Now, he’s a a refugee in Berlin who’s helping teach other young refugee students the technical skills of computer coding and robotics.

Europe is dealing with the long-term consequences of the Syrian crisis. More than 1 million people migrated to the continent in 2015 alone. In the United States, President Donald Trump has framed refugees as potential threats, and he tried to temporarily ban Syrians from entering the country.

But Hasna’s story provides a different perspective — one of opportunity. As people question what can be done to help those fleeing war, his journey provides a potential model, melding personal resolve with assistance from nonprofits and corporations.

It started when Hasna lost part of his left leg in 2013. He says an artillery shell hit the ambulance he was driving in Syria.

Source: How this Syrian refugee became a tech mentor

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Top 10 Best Practices for Mentors | Center for Mentoring Excellence

best_practice-resized-600Our recent annual Mentoring Matters Reader Survey revealed dozens of best practice topics. This blog is the first in our series of mentoring best practice posts soon to follow.  Based on our survey results, here are the top ten:



  1. Start by getting to know your mentee
    • Make sure you take time to get to know your mentee before you jump into the work of mentoring. Nothing of substance will happen until you establish a trusting relationship.
  1. Establish working agreements
    • Agreements lay the foundation of a mentoring relationship. Build in basic structures about how you will work together moving forward. Make sure you and your mentee agree on ground rules.
  1. Focus on developing robust learning goals
    • The purpose of mentoring is to learn. Learning is also the payoff. Make sure the mentee’s learning goals are worthy of your time and effort. Developing robust learning goals takes time and good conversation.
  1. Balance talking and listening
    • It’s easy and natural to want to give advice, especially because you’ve “been there and done that.” But mentees want more than good advice. They want you to listen to their ideas as much as they want to hear what you have to say.
  1. Ask questions rather than give answers
    • Take the time to draw out a mentee’s thinking and get them to reflect on their own experience. Ask probing questions that encourage them to come up with their own insights.
  1. Engage in meaningful and authentic conversation
    • Strive to go deeper than surface conversation. Share your own successes and failures as well as what you are learning from your current mentoring relationship.
  1. Check out assumptions and hunches
    • If you sense something is missing or not going well, you are probably right. Address issues as soon as possible. Simply stating, “I want to check out my assumption which is … ” will prevent you from assuming your mentee is on track.
  1. Support and challenge your mentee
    • Work on creating a comfortable relationship first before you launch into the uncomfortable stretch needed for deep learning. Mentees need to feel supported (comfortable) and yet be challenged (a little uncomfortable) in order to grow and develop.
  1. Set the expectation of two-way feedback
    • Candid feedback is a powerful trigger for growth and change. Set the expectation early on. Be prepared to offer candid feedback, balanced with compassion. Model how to ask for and receive good feedback by asking your mentee for specific feedback on your own mentoring contribution.
  2. Check in regularly to stay on track
    • Keep connected and develop a pattern of regular engagement. Both partners need to be accountable for following through with agreements. By holding an open, honest conversation about how you’re doing and what you need to do to improve, you encourage mutual accountability and deepen the relationship.

Source: Top 10 Best Practices for Mentors | Center for Mentoring Excellence

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Study: Startups See a Need for Diversity, But Fail to Deliver

7 in 10 startup founders say diversity is important, but only 1 in 10 startups are “diversity leaders” according to report released at Denver Startup Week.

Source: Study: Startups See a Need for Diversity, But Fail to Deliver

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The Power of Mentorship – Sven Winter’s Story

svenwinterThis inspiring young man, Sven Winter, is a new contact of mine on LinkedIn. He had already been a champion in the sport of ski cross at an international level which is something I have spent my life attempting to do and he retired at a young age after connecting with a mentor. Now he’s mentoring young business minded people through an organization called World Changers International volunteering his time to the initiative. The irony for me personally is that he represents the mirror image of my life in that he retired from ski racing to become a mentor and I’m doing the opposite. I have decided to retire from my career as a professional advisor & mentor to persue my lifelong passion for competative ski racing and coaching at the age of 58 which I chronicle about in my publication “Unsafe At Any Age” Coincidence we met? I think not. Here’s a video of Sven telling his story.

If we raise a generation of leaders who are certain in who they are, what they are meant to do with their lives and know exactly how to get there we can impact the world with the truth that:

“You can do something great with your life and live a life of fulfillment” and we will equip you on how to do so, so that you can help others do the same.

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Why Googler turned CEO asks employees to email idols – Business Insider

Liz Wessel says she has always been the type of person who has no shame in reaching out to someone, whether or not she knows the person. Wessel is the CEO and cofounder of WayUp, a site used by hundreds of thousands of college students to find jobs at places like Microsoft, Uber, The New York Times, Disney, and Google — where Wessel previously worked. Part of the reason she started WayUp with cofounder JJ Fliegelman was to combat nepotism, she says, “so it should make sense that I don’t really care about whether I have connections to a person.” “In college, my best cold email was to Roelof Botha, one of the top venture capitalists in the world,” she recalls. “He was a role model of mine, and I emailed him asking what he thought that I should do after I graduate in order to best position myself to one day start my own company: take a job offer at Google, or take a job offer at a venture-capital fund.” “He told me the former, and the rest was history,” she says. “It’s because of that first cold email that I have since always encouraged friends and colleagues to cold email people.” Wessel says she and Fliegelman started their company when they were just 24 and 25 years old. “We had a combined four years of full-time work experience, so there were often times that employees would ask us questions that we couldn’t answer or would ask us for advice that we didn’t want to get wrong,” she says.

Source: Why Googler turned CEO asks employees to email idols – Business Insider

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Why all startup founders need a mentor – StartupSmart

Did you know that 70% of business owners who use mentors will survive in business twice as long as those who don’t? Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship forged between a more experienced business person and someone who is less experienced to help them to achieve their goals and boost their morale. When undertaken effectively, it offers benefits to both parties, but it is first and foremost a supportive and encouraging relationship that focuses on the needs of the mentoree. With mentoring, the budding entrepreneur is guided and supported so they can reach their highest potential. For example, during his early days immersed in growing Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg consulted with mentor Sean Parker and was noted as saying: “Few people are as smart as he is.” The top benefits of having a mentor for your business include: Exposure to new ways of thinking A new perspective on challenges you’re facing Someone to ‘lend an ear’ when you need to vent or talk through your thought processes Advice on how to develop your strengths and overcome your weaknesses Strategies for growing your business An opportunity to gain knowledge and develop new skills The possibility of increased recognition and visibility within your industry through networking Increased confidence

Source: Why all startup founders need a mentor – StartupSmart

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Why More Entrepreneurs Should Seek Out Mentors

This is series is brought to you in partnership with the Consumer Technology Association (formerly the Consumer Electronics Association). You can read the rest of the series here. “Founders have a tendency to drink their own Kool-Aid and can convince themselves it tastes good when perhaps it needs more or less sugar,” described Invisionate founder and CEO George Stepancich when asked why he thinks it’s important for entrepreneurs to seek out mentors. An experienced entrepreneur and a mentor himself for the Consumer Technology Association’s Mentor Program, Stepancich knows all too well how crucial it is for entrepreneurs to have trusted advisors. Unfortunately, for some entrepreneurs, there’s this innate unwillingness to seek mentors – and this could hurt them in the long-run. The Myth of Entrepreneur Self-Reliance “The myth of the American entrepreneur is based on self-reliance: a single-minded obsession with a goal, with a bit of arrogance sprinkled on it,” said Paul Sabbah, president and founder of Stamford International. “The arrogance serves a vital purpose – it convinces the founder that they won’t fail, despite the odds. But it also makes them less open to mentorship, for fear that taking advice somehow cheapens their accomplishment.” While entrepreneurship necessarily involves starting your own business, you shouldn’t misinterpret it as something that must be pursued without help or advice from others. On the contrary: the road to entrepreneurship is paved with the footsteps of many, all working together to make something succeed. According to Greg Borchardt, managing director and cofounder of Caerus Ventures, the most successful entrepreneurs are actually the ones that actively seek out advice and feedback – whether that’s through a mentor or a group of advisors: “[These entrepreneurs] understand their strengths and weaknesses, and they surround themselves with people who have complimentary skill sets. Successful entrepreneurs are open to continuous learning.” Entrepreneurs (even serial entrepreneurs) don’t know everything. And, even if you did, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have people keeping tabs on you. Even if it’s just having someone else reinforce your certain beliefs or strategies, having a mentor can help.

Source: Why More Entrepreneurs Should Seek Out Mentors

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A Better Way To Find Mentors and Advisors For Your Growing Company — Medium

There was a time when a CEO was surrounded by a bevy of willing advisors. An experienced board of directors or a seasoned angel investor was there to keep you from falling on your face and guide you through the rigors and pitfalls of running a company. But, those days are long gone. It’s all lean start ups and breakneck sprints to market. And, with a new company getting funded every five minutes, seed money coming from crowdfunding and institutional investors overseeing portfolios of 30 companies or more, you can’t get that sort of support anymore. Maybe other experienced independent mentors and advisors exist but how do you find them and how do you work with them? The VCs are sensing the change too; First Round Capital just announced how independent advisors can work with their portfolio of companies. I’ve advised 50 companies, started a dozen of my own and watched friends either fall down flat or go out and score 10-digit success. And, something became abundantly clear: world class mentors and advisors were vitally important. Without them, companies are far more likely to fail and while today’s CEOs surely have the brains and the guts, they might lack the experience. That’s why I helped develop and launch Bad Ass Advisors. Imagine having the ability to get answers to questions like “how do I move from Kickstarter backers to being distributed at Best Buy” or “how can my SaaS company build an internal sales culture”. The answer is experienced tech execs (check out some of our who’s who) who can guide your bad ass company in exchange for monthly slivers of equity. Get advice from those who have done it before, truly enjoy advising and mentoring and who have the expertise in the areas you need.

Source: A Better Way To Find Mentors and Advisors For Your Growing Company — Medium

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