How Mentoring Can Help Your Startup Be Successful

Getting your business off the ground is quite an endeavor. It is said that 90% of startups fail during their first 12 months of existence and those that survive, are most of the time unable to grow to a bigger scale of business, therefore staying always as a small operation and eventually dying off. Growing a business and scaling its operation to bigger horizons is probably as daunting as getting started, and it seems that there is one thing that successful business have in common when it comes to surviving the transition and that is, the use of mentoring.

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Working with a mentor is a very underutilized but extremely effective resource that entrepreneurs need to start seriously considering. For one, the numbers do not lie as about three-fourths of mentored small businesses survive more than five years, that is a rate that is more than twice higher than their mentor-less counterparts.  Mentors are also able to give you a unique perspective on your approach and help you identify common weaknesses on your business model, as they have the experience to back up their knowledge and them objectivity that comes from not being personally involved with the project.

Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog we want to take a look at some of the ways mentors can help your startup and show you why these techniques are not just a gimmick, but actually an important tool you should always remember that you have at your disposal when it comes to navigating the world of businesses.

Experience is something you simply cannot buy and definitely cannot learn from reading books. A mentor is a unique source of such experience and someone who will be there on the ground with you helping you look at all aspects of the business, not simply giving you general advice that may or may not apply to you. The purpose of the mentor will always be on the road they have already traveled and how you can utilize the experiences that shaped them. This in order to avoid the same mistakes they made, and at the same time take advantage from the things they have learned.

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Another great advantage that mentors bring to the table and people often forgets to mention, is the amazing opportunity to be found in their vast network. Networking is of extreme importance nowadays and having a mentor on board means not only having their knowledge, experience, and input, but also their connections in the market and the advantage that comes from having access to a pool of people that can greatly benefit your career and be there when the need arises.

It has been proven that mentors are able to give reassurance and provide feedback that can be of great value to entrepreneurs. Having someone next to you who has already gone through the same process you are living is a great way to ease fears and instill confidence at such crucial moment in a business owner’s journey. Being confident can have a great impact in career success, sometimes more so than talent and even competence, so it is important to stack all odds on your favor and have that extra boost in morale than only a mentor can provide.

The boost in emotional intelligence a mentor can bring about is something else worth mentioning and a factor that cannot be overlooked. It is common amongst young business owners to be a bit rash when it comes to decisions or be too passionate about what they do. There is nothing wrong with passion, but when that passion is not properly focused and directed, you may make mistakes that could have been easily avoided. A mentor is there for you to add that maturity that comes from experience and help you develop solid basis and a more seasoned emotional intelligence.

If things go wrong for any reason, there is nothing like having a mentor there to help you cope with setbacks and to help you gain perspective on what the bigger picture is. Challenges are common and to be expected and that is why you must be prepared to understand this simple and unavoidable fact of life. Nobody knows this better than a person who is successful enough for you to look up them and that at the same time has been part of the industry for many years more than you, so that is why their value becomes so high at moments like this.

Do not become part of the negative statistics and know that startups are just one of the many aspects of business where a mentor can make all the difference, so trust the resources you have, make sure you go through all the steps and then nourish, experience and take advantage of everything having a mentor can do for your new business.


A basic and practical tip for improving your mentoring skills

Mentoring programs have ceased to be a novelty, and now they are becoming a trend in the organizational world. Therefore, it is essential that we all learn to improve our mentoring skills, so that these processes are increasingly effective and beneficial for companies and their workers. In this post, you will find a very simple tip that will help you build your mentoring qualities.

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One of the most beneficial qualities for the improvement of a mentor’s skills is, above all, emotional intelligence. This is so, because the main inherent condition when carrying out a mentoring program is, besides knowing the subject on which the program is concerned, being able to empathize with the mentee and transmit knowledge through a relationship of trust, in which the mentor should also be willing to learn everything the mentee is capable of teaching.

Know yourself. When somebody does not know herself/himself, she/he knows nothing at all. Being aware on your response to certain situations means you will be able to recognize how you feel throughout a day. That is basic. What things do you not support from others? What things make you feel better? If you already know what motivates you, then use that knowledge. Knowing how to answer these questions is key to helping promote the personal growth of mentees. In order to present a point of reference in terms of models of motivation, empathy and emotional balance, it is necessary, precisely, to begin by knowing yourself.

In this way, mentors would achieve to develop emotional intelligence as a tool to ostensibly improve mentoring programs. More than anything, we must emphasize a fundamental aspect. The first is, as mentioned, to work on empathy. This means being able to put yourself in the shoes of other people and contemplate reality from that perspective (especially, if you have to teach the mentee to look at things from a different point of view.)

Read also: Why is mentoring the best way to raise leaders in your company?, by Suzzanne Uhland

On the other hand, you must work on your emotional balance. All people have impulses, but emotionally intelligent people are different from the rest in thinking before acting and controlling their impulsiveness. This has a lot to do with the first point because without him this would be impossible.

It is essential that you find an emotional balance. If not, it would be unfair to you and for those who relate to you. It is good to let off steam and hit a scream in intimacy from time to time, or cry if that is what you need at that moment but do not let the emotions drag you away. Therefore, you should not repress your emotions but do not let them govern you. You are the one in control to allow or not to flourish, and knowing how to manage them is a feature of emotional intelligence.

Without an adequate emotional balance, it is impossible to advance in your improvement as a mentor, mainly because if you are not a person emotionally balanced, you cannot develop as a person, in general.

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It is important that the mentors understand that the authority that is held against the mentees is something that is constructed. It is not assumed per se. For that authority to be possible, and, therefore, the guide and transmission of knowledge from the mentor to the mentee, the latter must see in the former a model to follow; someone with a set of solid qualities. So to advance in your emotional management it is very useful to discover what your values are and analyze the beliefs that have formed you around those values. These beliefs are the filters by which you see the world and determine your way of thinking and feeling. If you want to get a higher level in your results, you have to be willing to let go of some of your old ways of thinking to adopt new ones. If to perform this task, you need support consider the Coaching services.

Always remember the following tips:

  • Recognize your true feelings, especially your fears and desires.
  • Channel your feelings for making choices and reaching your goals.
  • Turn the anger into productive energy and use it to fill yourself with it.
  • Look for the positive side of negative feelings: Yours and others.
  • Go ahead to go beyond your comfort zone in terms of your commitment.
  • Recognize your principles and what really matters to you.
  • Show empathy, understanding, and acceptance towards the feelings of others.
  • Before counseling, sermonizing, judging or ordering, listen.
  • Take on new challenges

We have all had a mentor in our lives. Maybe more than one. A mentor is someone we can turn to when we need to make decisions or we feel lost (not just in the workplace). We all, to some extent, end up becoming someone’s mentors (friends, children, etc.). Become the mentor you have always wanted to have or the one you remember with such gratitude.

Recommended: How to Be an Amazing Mentor: 12 Ways to Make a Positive Impact on Others

Why is mentoring the best way to raise leaders in your company?

This is happening more and more frequently, which is quite encouraging. A company with problems (eminently, with communication problems) decides to adopt a change of perspective and start doing things differently and decides to implement a mentoring project. The company’s directives hire an expert in this area and all of them design the program with the objective that the directors become the mentors of the top executives of the organization, who could be the leaders of it in the future, to develop their leadership skills. When these types of adjustments are made, the benefits are so many that they are difficult to classify. However, the most important of these is the new form of leadership that is built and executed for the good of the entire company.

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When leadership is built from mentoring processes, the leader that results is not a simple advisor to his or her subordinates, and, of course, he/she is not someone who simply delegates and gives orders so that everything is done to his or her convenience. A leader built a from mentoring processes, first of all, uses coaching skills and techniques; forms and transmits knowledge, and relates and sponsors the mentees. This type of leader considers three basic dimensions that must be developed in any professional role: Emotional, intellectual and social.

Obviously, for this to be achieved, it is necessary to have certain knowledge. Otherwise, the mentoring program could fail. Ideally, a company may start with a small group of mentors and mentees. A group of ten people, for example, is easy to follow and monitor, and from there it is possible to quantitatively extend the new versions of the mentoring programs.

In the same way, it is vital to choose the pairs of mentors and mentees very well. This selection should be made jointly with experts in the human resources area, or with external organizational psychologists. The idea is not simply to organize couples that get along but to complement each other in their knowledge and experience, and from which a true learning can emerge.

Before executing anything, it is very important to plan the sessions, and, above all, to elaborate a very detailed internal guide that includes a practical methodology that is easy to put into practice.

Read also: Why does your company need a mentoring program?, by Suzzanne Uhland

These types of programs are, of course, tremendously beneficial for mentees. What most often stands out in them is the increase of confidence towards the executives of the organizations, as well as a greater assumption of challenges when it comes to their roles. However, the most surprising factor about mentoring processes is the benefits in terms of increasing and improving skills to train other people and developing their potential.

There is always an increase in the level of personal satisfaction of mentors, which is a valuable resource in an organization. In fact, mentoring is one of the practices that most increase the level of commitment and satisfaction of the people who are part of a company.

The mentors consider their participation in the program very satisfactory, not only for the improvement of their competences but also for having contributed to achieving a difference, a change, and improvement in the lives of their mentees. In the same way, this happens because both mentors and mentees expand their own networks of professional contacts, as well as the acquisition of new technical knowledge (both for mentors, who are updated by the new knowledge that mentees bring from the academies, and for mentees, who are nourished by the experience of the mentors.)

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Mentoring has an exponential effect because it not only generates benefits for mentees and mentors but also for the entire company. It can be noticed in all programs, both for small (and family) companies and for large corporations. The main improvements that are obtained thanks to these programs for organizations are four.

The first is that organizational training is improved, especially when company executives become mentors, based on the example of those who participated in the mentoring program, and have taken as mentees other people within the organization to mentor them. The second is that individual performance is improved. This is so because the mentees generally show greater commitment, loyalty, and productivity. The third thing is that, as mentioned above, there is an increase in the level of trust: Mentoring programs increase trust between the members of the Board and senior executives or senior leaders of the company, as both parties learn to communicate in a closer and sincere way. Finally, governance is significantly improved throughout the organization. The relationships between the different interest groups at the internal level of the company improve, there is a clearer and more direct knowledge of the talent, and the leadership capacities of the people who work in the organization. This facilitates the identification of future leaders that the organization may need.

Recommended: Predicting the future of mentoring programs

The Best Tips For Making Your Mentoring Relationships Successful.


Mentoring relationships are rich alliances in which both parties bring their best to the table in a joint effort to come out a better version of themselves at the end, not only professionally but also personally as well. As with most relationships, this is hard work and it requires practice and dedication in order to make the best out of the experience. Both parties must be willing to conform to the rules, to be honest, and forthcoming and to give their best effort when it comes to receiving advice and also giving it when needed. It is more common to see senior members of the organization paired up with much younger executives who want to take advantage of their experience so they know how to navigate the waters of career advancement. It isn’t different when it also works the other way around, when senior members utilize the skills of their mentees so they can learn about aspects of the business that they are not familiar with; things like technology, new trends and the evolution of the business itself towards places that are different from what they are used to.

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Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog we want to talk about some advice that can be useful for both mentors and mentees by helping them truly appreciate their mentoring relationship and learn from the mistakes and lessons that others have learned before from them. Remember that even if you look at mentoring as a bond in which someone takes the time and effort to guide a junior employee, that doesn’t mean the mentee is out of the hook when it comes to being responsible for giving back in this symbiotic partnership.

For mentors

Be an active listener. Listening is more than just sitting there and being quiet while the other person goes on about their life, their observations and postulate questions. Active listeners sit up straight, engage the speaker and annotate the information they receive so they can come back and review it. Using non-verbal language is extremely important in this engagement exercise and it works two ways: not only it allows you to show your mentee that you are interested in what they are telling you, but also it helps you process information in a way that gives you the best chance to answer back with insights that are truly useful and on point when it comes to advising for the best course of action.

Part of being an active listener also has to do with actually listening and trying not to talk so much. Some mentors believe that their job is to tell stories and illuminate their mentee with their particular clever insight on every situation. While this isn’t entirely wrong, you must know how to balance your speaking with your listening, as you need to make the right assessment as to how you can help, and how you cannot. Encourage independence and understand that your way of doing things may simply be one of the many ways out there to get things done. Personal anecdotes are great, but they should now take up all of the time you have together. Try listening and allowing your partner to talk so you can get a better read of what is going on and how you can help out.

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For mentees

Understand that most of the work has to come for you. You have to know that you are primarily being benefitted in these relationships and while you do bring a lot to the table if you do your part, there is a component of sacrifice and compromise that you must always keep in mind. Mentors are busy people who take time out of their days to share their knowledge and experience with you, so be sure to take responsibility for making the relationship work.

Keep in mind that your goals have to be clear and it is your job to define such goals. You must know what you want in order to achieve it, especially when you are consulting with someone as to which is the best way to do so.

Be curious and inquisitive at all times. You cannot be helped if you are not interested in what you are doing and a mentor will be motivated when they see you trying to improve. Always write down questions before sessions so you can talk about things that are important and you are not there just wasting the time of all parties involved. Make yourself available for your mentor and always make sure that you meet deadlines and keep appointments. Be honest and open about your doubts and trust the person you chose as a guide since they are a reflection of your projection for a better professional career and the advancement you want to reach as an individual. Always have a positive attitude and understand that being better requires a lot of hard work.

Why people in the business world need a mentor?

When trying to start or impulse a business, many people start asking themselves questions like “how can I be successful?” or “is this the right way to do things?”. When this happens the recommendation is always the same: find yourself a mentor.

Finding a mentor is as important as having a great business plan. This happens because being able to nurture your business with the experience and advice of someone who has proven to know that it’s doing, is key to success.

No matter how good you did in school, how many people you know or how much potential you have if you don’t know how to use the tools at hand, your odds of succeeding decrease considerably. This (among other reasons) is why it is so important for individuals in the business world to find a good mentor.

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In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will share some reasons why it is crucial for people to find a mentor.

1 . It has been proven

The recommendation of finding a mentor in order to have better results in the business world is not a mere subjective opinion. According to Steven Berglas, from Forbes Magazine, studies show that those who have a mentor are proven to be more successful than those who never get one.

2 . It has no cost

What? Having a mentor is free? The answer to this is “yes, it is”.

Many people may find this hard to believe. But, a mentor is different than a coach and it doesn’t charge a dime. It is not about an insufferable case of generosity, it is about gratification for both the mentor and the mentee.

Usually, those who become mentors are already successful in their business field. They don’t need to be paid for the service they provide. Mentors do their job with a sense of serenity and gratification, knowing that they are contributing to the creation of a better world.

Besides all this, mentors tend to create a personal bond with their mentees. For this reason, the importance they give to their job, the love they have for their mentees and the knowledge they have to pass isn’t for sale.

3 . Relationships are personal

This is another item that many people may find hard to believe. This happens because most successful businessmen are well-known for being ruthless, and not giving a dime for others.

However, this is not entirely the truth. Actually, it is not even true for the majority of individuals in the business world, especially when it comes to mentorship.

Relationships between mentors and mentees are often personal. Mentors choose their mentees or vice-versa based on affinities or common interests. Sometimes, these relationships star without even knowing they are taking place.

A good way to illustrate this is the knowledgeable professor you met in business school and helped you boost your entrepreneurship. Or that experienced boss who looked after you when you were first starting to create your own company. All these people become part of their mentees’ lives and influence them in a personal and professional way.

4 . Inspiration is important

A mentor is an example to follow, and inspirational figure. They represent what any businessman wants to achieve. This is one of the reasons why finding a mentor is vital for a business to succeed.

Picture yourself as an entrepreneur who is struggling with many things. You still don’t know if you will make it to the next month and you wonder if what is happening to you has ever happened to anybody else. Then you look at your mentor and listen to its story. Suddenly, you find yourself in front of an individual who had to deal with countless ups and downs and succeeded in the end.

Mentors motivate entrepreneurs to keep moving forward. They become the inspiration we all need to succeed. They help us solve problems in a creative and useful way. They are also individuals that we respect, therefore, we are willing to follow their advice all the time.

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5 . Firsthand information and experience

It is not very likely for a person to be able to learn from the experiences told in books about how its business should be managed. Mentors are key to learn from the practice and not just the theory. They help you go through new situations and motivate you to learn about numerous subjects all at once.

A mentor is the voice of experience and knowledge. It is the best source any individual in the business world has to investigate about what may happen to its business or how to react to a difficult situation.

A mentor is not going to take a parental position. But, it will work as the perfect guide for the perfect situation. It will provide the necessary advice and recommendations to any situation that needs to be taken care of. Prove to this is that, all good mentors where once mentees.

5 words of advice on how to get the most out of your mentor

Suzzane Uhland has written quite a lot about mentorship and how to be a good mentor. The most important thing regarding this topic is to really determine the true importance and value of mentoring.

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Many people, after being accompanied by different mentors throughout their professional careers, end up developing certain pleasure about becoming a mentor themselves. Throughout this process, they spend their whole careers building their own advisory group: year after year, they create a solid group of advisors—those who have helped them take a step forward or overcome any difficulty. Oftentimes, mentors act as a mere conversational partner: bouncing and discussing ideas back and forth with someone who is more experienced in that particular field is actually way richer and more rewarding than sitting through an endless lecture. Many people actually assert that this has helped them see with more clarity what they may not have understood before.

Other times, however, leaders act as those people needed to tell others in need how to proceed or to provide them with enough encouragement so that they feel compelled to keep moving forward. In short, the benefits of having a mentor at any moment are clear: they help people to be their best selves.

Nonetheless, it is important to mention that even though mentors are seen like an authorized voice in a specific field, and even though they provide mentees with enough reasons to take risks, keep moving forward and strive for what they want, at the end of the day, mentees are the ones responsible for making their own choices. Mentors are not just there to tell mentees whether they need to follow a specific direction. No. Instead, they provide the guidance needed for mentees to make up their minds and subsequently make a decision about the path they want to follow.

So, although the aforementioned description may sound a bit general, it is also important to mention that there are different types of mentors. Moreover, there are different ways to approach them and use them. Here are several words of advice on how to get the most out of a mentor:


A good mentor takes mentees out of their comfort zone. Period. There will always be a sheer array of individuals ready to provide such degree of comfort; however, a good mentor is the one who actually encourages their mentees to try new experiences in hopes of discovering something new about them. Many people, especially entrepreneurs, recall seeking advice with mentors who practically forced to leave their comfort zone and they ended up excelling and thriving in a different, totally unknown field.


A good mentor possesses an accurate understanding of the mentee’s strengths and weaknesses: they are capable of accurately grasping the intricacies of the individuals that approach them seeking help. Mentees should always strive to improve their weaknesses. That is obvious, of course. Nonetheless, in order to that, they need to seek a mentor who will complement them instead of seeking one who is rather similar to them. Finding someone different means he or she possesses a varied and different set of skills.

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Get the most out of mentors. Whenever individuals find their mentor or their main advisor they tend to relax. The sense of being accompanied often ends up being detrimental for this self-improvement process. Try not to get used to the fact that mentors are “always” available, because, sadly, they are not. That is what makes their advice so valuable.


There will always be an imbalance between the mentor’s vision and the mentee’s vision. Actually, the mentee’s vision, due to several reasons, might differ from reality, especially the reality of the things around their concerns. This scenario suggests that mentees should be constantly working on the relationship with their mentors in order to avoid any misalignment with the mentee’s goals.


Do not feel like it is necessary to find someone in within the same industry or within the same location. Of course, mentees should always consider looking for both men and women as their mentors. It is particularly important to find those who happen to be highly different in comparison since this way mentees will be provided with a much broader spectrum of possibilities and perspectives. Never forget: under today’s circumstances, in today’s digital juncture, it has never been more possible to build and foster a successful mentor-mentee relationship: there are plenty of communication tools—Skype being the most widely used, FaceTime and several chats that allow individuals to interact with each other.

The fourth industrial revolution brought along endless possibilities and allowed the unthinkable. As someone looking for a piece of advice irrespective of motivation, today it is possible to get past boundaries and find the perfect individual. Whether as entrepreneurs or professionals looking to improve their performance at their jobs, having a mentor nearby (and learning from them) is a highly valuable thing.

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How to have a positive impact as a mentor

The job of a mentor is quite serious. It is meant to have an impact on somebody else’s life. Therefore, it better be a good impact.

If we took a minute to think about the best mentor we have ever had, we would remember some important pieces of advice, attitudes, situations and all sorts of events that would help us identify why our mentor had such a positive impact in our lives.

On the mentor’s side, having a positive impact on mentees can be quite challenging. Not because intentions are not nice. But, because becoming the example to follow or the advice-giver of someone who is trusting you its career, is rather difficult and represents a big responsibility.

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There are many different types of mentors. All of them may vary according to the type of business they work with, or the type of mentee they will guide. It can even be said that mentors come in every possible “shape and flavor”. They can come in the shape of a dear professor, a friend, family member, a parent, or a coach.

Regardless the type of mentor that you want to become or already are, there are some basic tips that you should keep in mind in order to have a positive impact on your mentees. Here, Suzzanne Uhland will share some of these tips.

Related: Some Of The Things That Set A Good And A Great Mentor Apart.

1 – You need to know what it means to be a mentor

If you are in the business world or are a lawyer and you are good at what you do, you will inevitably become a mentor. This is something that most people can’t escape of and it is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and legacy.

However, before you become a mentor you need to actually know what that means. It is not about improvising and acting according to your needs. It is actually about knowing your mentee and establishing a relationship with that person.

Being a good mentor requires you to develop communication skills as well as a working style. Nevertheless, if you really want to have a positive impact on your mentee, you need to gain their trust as their advisor.

Being a trusted advisor can mean several different things. All these things are summarized in making yourself available for your mentee whenever it needs advice and support. Giving your mentee support is what actually defines your role as a mentor.

Acknowledging your role as a mentor and knowing how to support your mentee in order to provide it with great advice and support, will help your mentee keep a great mindset. This will represent the greatest impact overall.

2 – Measure time

A mentor and mentee relationship should not last forever. It will need to last for as long as the mentee feels ready to face the challenges of the market. In terms of time, this cannot be defined properly.

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The relationship between a mentor and a mentee can be as short as one single meeting around a cup of coffee or as long as several years of preparation. It is important to keep in mind that when this kind of relationships extend in time and become long term, the mentor has the obligation of actually knowing its mentee.

The longer the mentoring process is, the more important it becomes for the mentor to know and understand the goals, personality, and learning style of its mentee. Long-term relationships regarding this matter are more fulfilling when both parties have an enriching attitude towards the other.

3 – Define your mentorship plan and expectations

Not all mentors are equal, and not all mentee will react in the same way to the same things. Having said that, if the mentor wants to have an amazing impact on its mentee, it should prepare a mentorship plan.

This plan must be based on the expectations that both parties share from the beginning. Expectations work as goals and clarify what both parties want and don’t want since the moment they start their relationship

Understanding these expectations will help you understand where your mentee is coming from when asking something from you, and vice versa.

4 – Work on your emotional intelligence

Being a mentor can be emotionally challenging. There might be situations in which you want to give up, react poorly, and stop your job right there. This is why emotional intelligence plays such an important role in the job of any mentor.

By becoming a mentor, you will get the chance to know they very special personality of your mentee. You will have to deal with its needs and the previous experiences that have shaped your mentees personality. Knowing all this and using this information in the best interest of yourself and the mentee will make a huge difference.

Keeping all these tips in mind will help become a good mentor and have a positive impact on your mentee.

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