David and Libby Koch make some great observations on why mentors work.
This article that appeared in Melbourne’s Herald Sun on Monday May 27th 2019 gets us to think about the idea of leverage.
What a great way to get a persons lifetime of insights, experience and wisdom channeled to you in a matter of minutes. You can either learn from your own experience or learn from someone else’s experience, if you can find that balance you should be able to do much better than going it alone.
WHY MENTORS CAN HELP
Tap into someone else’s experience to guide you to continued success
SUCCESS in your career or managing your money can be so much easier with a little help from others.
Tapping into someone else’s expertise and experience can provide invaluable guidance.
That’s why mentors are important. They have been so important in both our lives, which is why we always recommend for everyone to find their own. We were lucky in that our parents have been great mentors. Robert Gottliebsen, the founding editor of BRW and now columnist with The Australian, was another. He became one of our first mentors in business after asking us to move to Melbourne soon after he started the magazine.
So, in that sense, we’ve been fortunate. The people we sought out for advice through the early stages of our careers were always very close and accessible.
However, there have been other people we’ve looked up to and learnt a lot from, some of whom we’ve only had passing relationships with.
You see, mentoring doesn’t necessarily depend on close, regular relationships. A lot can be learnt from afar, too.
BUFFETT AND BRANSON
You can learn a lot just by listening, reading and watching people whose judgment and track record you admire.
If you respect a public figure, entrepreneur, investor or politician, read their books, blogs and podcasts or follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For example, we’re big fans of investor Warren Buffett and have read all the books and media stories on him.
Richard Branson is great on LinkedIn and social media. Truly amazing people speak at TedEx conferences, which they then put on their website for all to see and learn.
Investment podcasts worth following are My Millennial Money, Work Life Money, The Money Cafe and The Money. Keep an eye out for when these people speak at events or conferences, particularly if there is an opportunity to ask them specific questions that interest you.
Of course, for specific guidance, it’s important to have people you can regularly call on as well. Just don’t limit the definition of mentoring to a specific relationship.
The first step is to ask yourself what you want in a mentor or sponsor. Just like finding a job and career that matches up qualifications and values, a mentor must also match.
To do that it’s crucial to identify career and investment goals, what the end game is and the type of person – both in terms of values and experience – that can help you get there.
A mentor should be someone who will challenge you, ask tough questions and help guide the big financial and career calls, but they must also be compatible and supportive.
One way to identify the profile of a good mentor is to recall the last time you were challenged by a boss, friend or colleague who invested time and resources into helping you grow into that challenge. This is a pretty good yardstick for the type of person who will make a great mentor.
Once you know what you’re looking for and the things to get out of the relationship, it’s time to find a mentor. Often it’s pretty close to home – a current employer, relative or in your current business network – and no more searching is required.
But a more formal approach is to check if your employer has a mentoring program or, outside that, industry interest groups, business bodies, networking groups or the local Chamber of Commerce. These are all rich sources of business guidance. If there’s nothing suitable in these places then ask for referrals.
Apart from the formality of industry bodies, it definitely pays to look outside work because there’s a good chance people in your own network will be able to introduce quality contacts to approach.
GROW A RELATIONSHIP
It might just be for a coffee to talk about the industry at first, and that’s great, but if there’s a mutual respect and enthusiasm it can grow into something more regular. A word of personal opinion though – you don’t have to make a formal request.
It’s a relationship like any other and will develop organically over time. The most important thing is to build that respect and confidence.
Of course, having a formal relationship is part of any mentoring program, and a lot of people do like to make the mentor-protege relationship official, but for us it’s better left to grow by itself.
As to mentoring roles, be sure to do your bit. It’s not all one way, so see what opportunities might be possible to open up in return and even see if you’re in a position to pass on the favor and mentor someone yourself.
Importantly, be professional with mentors: be motivated, ask good questions when help is needed, and demonstrate a hunger to succeed and act on advice to get the most out of a mentor.
The most important part of the relationship? Listen, show respect and be reliable.
Mentoring is about professional growth by learning from others, so take responsibility for your side of the relationship by listening carefully and being accountable. Good luck.
David & Libby Koch