What Are Mentors Exactly Suppose To Do In A Partnership?

Those of us, who have been fortunate enough to work with a mentor at some point in our lives, understand the importance of having such person next to us as part of our growth process. The role of a mentor is extremely influential in an individual’s career and it can pave the road to success for those who are trying to find their footing and want to take advantage of the experience that only comes from years of working in the industry. Career-changing is the perfect adjective to describe what a mentor can do for something who really wants to take charge of their own professional development, so today here in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog we want to use this opportunity to help mentors figure out what exactly their role entails and which practices do fall outside of their scope of practice. Even if you are not a mentor but a mentee, this information can be quite useful to help you analyze your own expectations and understand how you can best benefit from the relationship while at the same time giving back, as it is important to remember that mentoring is not a one-way street and the best mentorships are known for being a symbiotic exchange in which both parties grow, learn and become richer from an experience that should not be taken lightly.

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Companies should also do their parts by understanding what they are asking for their senior leaders when they assign them as mentors and how they can best support the relationship by giving all parties involved the necessary tools to be successful in an endeavor that will surely help the organization greatly in the short and long term.

The difference between mentoring and coaching.

In some articles, you will see that people often put both of these terms in the same category which is not entirely wrong, but it is important to understand that coaching and mentoring are not ideas that can be referred to interchangeably because they do not mean the same thing. Mentoring normally is done in the long-term basis and with the growth and professional development of the mentee and while coaching has very similar ideals, it is not something that is done for a long time, since it focuses on very specific behaviors that need to be corrected or changed and some goals that want to be achieved. Both of these strategies are great and they work always with the benefit and growth of the mentee in mind, but while one has the characteristics of a marathon in which participants pace themselves and goals are set of the long term. Coaching usually yields results a lot faster because it focuses on something specific and time sensitive that the mentee wants to achieve.

Planning a short and long-term strategy.

Mentors and mentees work together in creating a strategy that includes both short and long-term goals. Think about those goals as a map before you go on a trip. It is necessary to understand where you are going so you can take the best route and also so you know exactly when you are going to get there. Setting up goals and benchmarks is sensible and quite responsible, and that is why this is one of the most important things a mentor has to encourage the mentee they have taken under their wing.

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Encouragement and support.

Mentors sometimes work as cheerleaders as they provide support and encouragement to their mentees. Mentors are supposed to help their partners think outside of the box and go outside of their comfort zone to try new things and to see things from a different perspective. In order to do this, mentors need to identify resources that can help their mentees advance their development and grow in their professional world. Support can also be found in learning tools and materials such as books, workshops, and courses. As a mentor, it is great if you are interested enough in helping your mentees find such tools

Honest and raw advice.

A mentor has to be able to provide truthful and unadulterated advice so their mentees. It is not their job to pull any punches and their job is to say things honestly and without a filter, something that mentees probably would not be able to get anywhere else but from their mentors. This type of insight is very valuable and it is considered of the greatest things a mentor can offer their partners.

A mentor is not there to tell you how to do things.

This is very important to stay away from. Mentors should not be telling their partners how to do things; instead they are supposed to encourage them to find solutions and to be able to solve their own issues. Mentors are not problem-solvers but instead, they are partners that provide encouragement and guidance from a perspective of experience and professional knowledge.

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The Most Common Mentoring Mistakes Made By Companies And Employees

Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked about many times of the clear advantages of having a mentoring program set up for your employees, as well as joining one as a mentor or mentee in your organization. Companies benefit greatly when they pair up their employees and thus bring new member up to speed on the company’s practices, procedures, and goals while at the same time investing in the development of new members of the organization. If you are a senior employee, then mentoring opens up a door of opportunities in a whole different way, by giving you the chance to learn skills that perhaps were not relevant during your own training and that are common with today’s younger generations, or also by helping you enhance your own leadership skills in a real-world environment.

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It is clear that the advantages are many and for everyone involved, but then again we have to talk about the most common mistakes organizations and individuals make when putting together, maintaining and participating in a mentoring program. Mistakes and wrong dealings when it comes to mentoring can develop to become difficulty seeing the advantages of the relationship, benefiting from being part of a mentorship and even result in the failure of the program itself.

These are some of the most common mistakes made when it comes to mentorships.

Sometimes even great mentors fail because they forget to do things such as reframing challenges in a way that can be easily understood and properly assessed by the mentee. Our frame of mind is something crucial when it comes to finding ways to deal with obstacles as things may seem impossible to solve and predicaments may feel impossible from where we are standing. Reframing problems allow us to remove ourselves from the predicament and literally find a new approach. A great mentor knows this and sometimes that is what sets them apart from the rest. Forgetting about reframing or simply tackling issues without changing our frame of mind is a big mistake in mentoring and one that even experienced participants easily fall into.

Another big mistake in mentoring happens when mentors simply give out the answers to mentees. Finding solutions is about coaching individuals and helping them reach conclusions on their own for the most part. A good mentor is not a person who solves issues for you; instead, they guide you and help you find the answers on your own while helping you stay on track while a goal has been set and a plan has been hatched.

The problem with giving a mentee the solution to their issue is that we are literally taking away from them the opportunity to grow and learn from experiences. The job of a mentor is to facilitate such learning opportunities and not to take them away from their mentees.

A great way to mentor is to ask questions. Instead of telling them what to do, have them answer questions about why they haven’t done something yet, thus making them really think about what is it that is stopping them from taking risks or to analyze aspects that they may have not considered before.

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As a mentee, one of the biggest and most common mistakes is choosing a mentor that is too similar to you. It is very comfortable to talk to someone with your same background and way of thinking, so developing that kind of relationship will be naturally easy, however, it isn’t recommended to avoid contrast when it comes to mentoring. You will learn the most from partners that are of a different gender and background because you will be exposed to a whole new spectrum of experiences that can enrich your own. Think also outside of your chain of command and go for someone who is not your direct supervisor so you can avoid conflicts of interest. Be bold and brave and get out of your comfort zone.

Another mistake mentees make has to do with asking for advice that is too general. Always be specific about your questions, about the issues that worry you and about the advice you want to receive. It is normal to not be clear about your needs at first, but finding out is part of the experience.

As an organization, one of the most common mistakes people make is wrongly pairing participants. Sometimes this is done at random and that spells out a recipe for disaster. Remember that not all senior members are willing to participate in mentoring, so this shouldn’t be something that is imposed on people. The trick is to find people who are excited about the opportunity to teach others and partner them with employees who have interest in advancing their professional life and goals that can benefit from receiving help from others with more experience.

The last and probably the most important mistake companies make is that they forget to follow up and supervise their own mentoring program. That could mean the end of the program itself, easily.

 

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring refers to an opportunity in which senior members of an organization are paired up with younger associates in an attempt to exchange knowledge similar to a mentoring session but with the purpose of education the senior leaders in topics that younger employees handle with expertise. The use of reverse mentoring is something that is becoming very popular lately simply because mentoring, in general, is being utilized a lot more by companies, therefore it is only natural than when a proper mentorship is put in place, the exchange exists as a two-way street. Another reason why reverse mentoring is so popular has to do with the new era of technology in which we live today. New advances have made so that while our world is hyper-connected and doing business has become easier and more convenient than ever before, we also have to deal with a steep learning curve that sometimes is beyond people who are not used to this new technology and who did not grow up in an environment in which using computers and the internet is a commonality.

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In today’s article here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we want to talk about what you need to have in mind in order to take advantage of reverse mentoring and how a program should be put together so that reverse mentoring can have the strongest possible impact in the organization and the individuals involved with mentorships.

In order to get started, you have to make exhaustive research as to what is the purpose of the program and ensure you are solving a need you have, not just doing it for the sake of doing it. It is easy to fall on a situation in which the reverse mentoring is being done just so junior employees feel like they are adding something to the mentoring relationship but just for the sake of feeling like they are being constructive. That would be the wrong way of going about reverse mentoring as the benefits must be tangible and must truly be beneficial for the company because they are attending a need, not just a desire for indulgence.

Social media and understanding the ins and outs of these phenomena is a great example of a need that most companies have when it comes to training their most senior members. It is not a secret that senior leaders are not too familiar with the benefits of social media being used as a marketing tool and as a way of gathering useful information from customers. It is helpful to aid them in moving away from thinking that social media is something for younger people to waste their time and see it for the amazing asset that it can become when being used properly.

The first meeting is the perfect moment to set goals and to start coming up with a strategy on how to accomplish those goals. Reverse mentoring should be a lot more informal and structure should be best kept at a minimum. At the beginning, the sessions should be spaced a couple of weeks in between to establish rapport and then to identify some of the needs of the particular pairing. Remember that using technology to communicate like social media, texting and other personal devices is a great way to change the whole setting of the mentoring sessions and at the same time immerse the participants on the type of environment they need to learn to utilize.

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Reverse mentoring is something that can grow in a very organic way and most of the time the best relationships end up forming on their own. However, this doesn’t mean that the company shouldn’t worry about strategies to help nurture the partnership and help them find the best environment in which to further advance. It is important to give the program the importance that it deserves and to encourage those in it to actively participate and those who are not members yet, to join.

Help members find compatible partners that are not just versed in the areas that are key to the success of the program, but also who have personalities that can further stimulate good dialogue and help those involved open up to their peer so they can grow together. It is important to identify those junior members of the organization that have potential to become tomorrow’s leaders. These individuals would be already cultivating a strong relationship with the people they will call colleagues later on and also with those whom they will work with side to side making the company more competitive, the workplace safer and the organization thrives.

Last but not least, always be open to feedback and criticism. These types of programs are not common and they are in a very experimental phase in most companies, so understand the importance of learning from mistakes and adjusting the course of the mission as you go along.

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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:

First

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.

Second

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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Third

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.

Fourth

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.

Fifth

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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Why Mentors Are Crucial For Entrepreneurs

As Suzzanne Uhland has previously asserted: it takes a lot to thrive and succeed as an entrepreneur. Startups, and by extension entrepreneurs, are constantly looking for new ways to achieve their goals, thusly breaking all the rules and making a myriad of mistakes in an effort to drive their businesses forward. Thus, and as previously mentioned in this blog, seizing the help of a mentor stands out as something invaluable.

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Launching a startup and becoming a great, inspiring and successful entrepreneur is a journey full of advantages and disadvantages: as aspiring business and company-developers, entrepreneurs always happen to find themselves in situations where the most common feeling is highly related to disorientation and not knowing what to do; however they do understand the importance of always staying in motion pushing towards their goals making decisions irrespective of the possible outcome.

Without someone pointing them in the right direction—or a mentor, so to speak—, entrepreneurs often end up making terrible mistakes, especially during the early stages after launching their businesses. These circumstances suggest that the smaller the business, the faster they need to keep moving regardless of the challenges that lie ahead.

Talking about challenges, it is undeniable that the journey of becoming an entrepreneur is full of them, and that should be taken for granted. Thus, having good mentors and someone to reach out to for advice becomes no less than essential. A good mentor’s words and advice will help entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts to take action within imperfect circumstances—if there is such a thing as perfect circumstances, though—, because they not only provide a different point of view but also can give extra confidence to keep moving forward without doubts and hesitation. In short: they help entrepreneurs execute rapidly on time delicate and sensitive decisions in an attempt to keep moving towards the main goal.

The journey of succeeding as an entrepreneur is also a journey of gathering a myriad of information—thinking pragmatically of the long-term—. Getting all the data needed to keep moving forward in order to make the best decisions is something that, although can be done without reaching out for help, is something best done by seeking a mentor for help and advice before recklessly making those decisions. Bear in mind that mentors are individuals who have likely already been through the exact same, or similar, situation, therefore, their help is invaluable.

As formerly mentioned by LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, the essence of today’s entrepreneurial journey and the challenges often under its scope can perfectly be described by a simple metaphor: startups, and the decision to become an entrepreneur is like jumping off a cliff and assembling an aircraft on the way down. Thus, entrepreneurs cannot simply assume they have all the tools to assemble the aircraft alone, all by themselves, which is why mentors embody a great source of information and advice.

What makes a good mentor stand out? Well, there are certainly different aspects and characteristics. Here are two of them:

A good mentor possesses high-level expertise

A good mentor is someone who possesses a valuable set of skills and expertise, often in the same skills entrepreneurs lack. This demands a lot of self-awareness from the side of startup enthusiasts, for big names and titles do not always mean an individual will serve a good purpose as a mentor. Industry veterans are not systematically the perfect match, rather, entrepreneurs should set out identify those individuals who underwent really tough situations that demanded actual work and tons of hustle. Do not just pay attention to fancy names, look for the skills that are needed to pursue the dream.

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Mentors often highlight the importance of making a long-term oriented partnership in order to maintain momentum throughout the stages of the process, especially the early stages. There is an undeniable difference in pace between already well-established businesses and smaller companies. This means that smaller businesses need to move faster to ensure they reach a conclusion.

A good mentor is someone who succeeded as an entrepreneur

This is quite obvious, yet often disregarded by today’s entrepreneurs. And although it may sound a bit biased, it is undeniable that there are mentors who have been—or still are—entrepreneurs. Success is something that can be measured in a plethora of different ways, but real mentors have likely walked in the exact same shoes and taken the same steps than today’s entrepreneurs. In order to determine whether a mentor is a good fit, it is quite good to assess whether entrepreneurs see themselves succeeding just like their mentor has. It is much easier just to follow an advice that comes from someone who has made a name for himself by doing something similar—they kind of stand out as the living proof that legitimizes all the efforts that are needed to achieve whatever entrepreneurs want to achieve.

* Featured Image courtesy of Startup Stock Photos at Pexels.com