A person is not great just because they are a COO or a CEO. They are no better or smarter than you are. That being said, treat this person (and all people) with respect.
Let me give you two simple tips for how to reach out to a potential mentor:
A. You have to give to get. In other words, the relationship has to have some semblance of balance to work.
B. Be sincere. Speak from the heart and be honest about your needs and wants. Don’t offer empty praise that your prospective mentor will see through.
I’ll give you an example of how to not to get a mentor. I received the following message from someone:
“I am a startup CEO and many times, I require mentoring and suggestions. I wanted to know you personally so maybe, I could learn a lot of things from you. Please let me know!”
The problem with this message is it is all about the mentee. There has to be something in it for the mentor.
And it doesn’t have to be money!
Remember, you are going to get a lot more out of the relationship than any money or equity the mentor gets.
Let’s compare the first invitation to a second invitation I received:
“Hi Brett – I’m looking for help with my newly minted company called xxxx- we do xyz from around the world and now looking at building something bigger than our major competitor. Looking at doing the $0 – $100M. Is this something you can help advise or coach me with?”
There are a couple reasons offer number two is more compelling:
A. The tone of the “ask” is different. “I’m looking for help” isn’t needy. “I require mentoring and suggestions” is very needy and whiny. No one wants to work with a whiner.
B. There is an implied benefit to the mentor. I potentially receive equity and income from advising and coaching.
The first offer is all about the mentee with no benefit for the mentor.
Yes, mentors want to help people.
Yes, mentors want to pass on their knowledge.
But remember that mentors are very busy. It can’t be all give, give, and give.
Have a compelling reason for help, look in the right places and you are on your way to being personally mentored. In the meantime, there are plenty of indirect mentors to help you along your journey.
Is Your Business Stuck? Maybe I Can Help.
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