A Writer from London interviewed me the other day about Mentoring in relation to career mentoring for a British publication. I thought I would share my answers here.

1. please could you tell us a bit about yourself

I am a Management Consultant from Vancouver. I have mentored over 1000 startup businesses. I worked with Michael E. Gerber, the #1 business coach in the World and author of the Emyth.

2. how do you mentor?

I use a hybrid technique of coaching, mentoring, counselling and consulting. They are so distinct that I typically use a bit of each. Some clients want advice (mentoring) some want immediate results so I tell them what to do (Consulting), some want to be guided to their end decision (Coaching) and some want to be guided but in the end decide themselves (Counsellor).

3 .How do you think career mentoring can benefit towards someone’s future career?

When I was looking to change careers I was always alone in my search, I never considered that a mentor in the field could save me endless pain in searching, making the wrong turns and starting a career at the wrong junction so to speak. Imagine a college grad starting in the mailroom (classic example, sorry) of a large corporation and thinking they would move up the ladder to the CEO job by starting at the ground level when in fact a mentor might suggest methods to go into the marketing department or such that would give better results faster. The more experience we have, of course, the more people we know so there is the possibility that mentors can fast track a client.

4. What key qualities does a mentor need when they are mentoring someone?

Good listening skills, certainly expertise, maturity, wise beyond their years (or just old like me)

5. What is the main reason people seek a mentor to help them in certain aspects of their life?

I wish more people would use a mentor, it would make life easier for many. A mentor can give you the encouragement to take a leap of faith knowing that the risk is mitigated because the mentor has given you support. A mentor is mainly a sounding board to throw those crazy things rattling in your head that you dare not speak because you thought they might sound crazy. A mentor won’t be judgemental just supportive.

6.What are some of your most re-occurring and best pieces of advice?

Most people want to be told what to do to get from point A to point B. Most people also want to be validated. I often point this out to them and ask them if they want me just to agree with them or do they want valuable advice. This is critical because people don’t really know what they need, they know what they want but rarely the former. I will not tell people what they want to hear. I have a client who wanted to buy three radio stations and kept on me for an hour about the value of the opportunity. Even with me telling him it was a ludicrous idea he continued until I suddenly realized he wanted me to agree with him. I confronted him and he said, yes, he wanted my approval. I asked him if he could afford to lose the millions and he said he could so I said go ahead. He did and lost all his money within months. He sheepishly apologized for doubting my ‘wisdom’ next time we met. I raised my hourly fee after that.

7.Where do you find a mentor?

Several sources; a new site (I’m on the advisory board) is http://mentorplus.me allowing people to get free mentoring, MentorHub on LinkedIn, a family friend in the industry you want to break into and finally a retired person from that same industry. With MentorPlus we are trying to provide a free mentoring service with simple problems which if addressed in minutes can be free to the mentee. However, in most cases that simple question becomes a problem of Goliath proportions requiring considerable effort from a mentor. I believe this must be considered a paid situation. In a career situation having a mentor read a resume and offer advice is fine but what if that mentor is being asked to read resumes, covering letters for each job, rewrites, coaching etc, endless comes to mind.

I must say that there are also two types of mentors; mentors who can afford to offer advice because they are retired and want to give back to their field and/or others. I am involved with a youth loans fund that has ‘volunteer’ mentors who are not allowed to spend more than 2 hours per month with their mentees. Obviously this is designed to allow both to focus on specific issues but also setup so the mentor isn’t overwhelmed or used. The second mentor is the skilled professional who is paid to provide exceptional advice, put forth scenarios, help with presentations and support the mentee at every crossroad. I fit into the latter because I use that hybrid system of mentoring discussed earlier.

The unfortunate aspect of calling yourself a mentor is that people assume it is free. I judicially use mentoring both ways, providing support and answers to questions that are simple in my mind gratis and if the situation is more complex I charge a fee

8.What characterize a good mentor?

Same answer as 4

9. What made you want to be a mentor and why?

I struggled for years in my first business as a commercial photographer. It took me 10 years to be able to ask the price I knew I was worth in the beginning. Had I a mentor I would have zoomed forward in my career instead of growth at a snails pace, exerting energies in all the wrong places. I am a mentor so I can save people that angst. I also love working with creative people in setting up a business for the first time. My book the “Guide to Starting Your First Successful Business” is a how to for entrepreneurs

10. What do you think ‘mentees’ seek to get out of sessions with a career mentor?

Seriously, I think they want directions on how to get the job they want. They want it planned out and laid out for them. They expect mentors to see greatness in them and refer them to the mentors best friend who has a vacancy in his company. Life isn’t so simple. Some of course want the wisdom of someone who has been there and done that. Simple.

To check out more about mentors, coaches and more, check it out here!

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4 Comments

  1. We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
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  2. Though companies now invest heavily in mentoring and developing their best female talent, all that attention doesn’t translate into promotions. A Catalyst survey of over 4,000 high potentials shows that more women than men have mentors—yet women are paid $4,600 less in their first post-MBA jobs, hold lower-level positions, and feel less career satisfaction.

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