“The Best We Can Be” — Up Your Ante with a Mentor

We understand that in sports there is a great coach behind every great player, and we celebrate these folks, but in work we somehow forget their importance. We leave behind what we learned in school athletics and approach our professional lives without giving much thought to coaching (or mentoring) or where to look to continue to build our skills and abilities and be the best we can be.

— Maynard Webb, Forbes

“The best we can be.” Isn’t that the goal?

Think back to someone who really impacted your life in a positive way. Maybe a parent, or a middle school teacher, or a trusted older friend with good listening skills you sought out at a confusing time of your life. Think about how you felt when good advice was given, grievances were aired, or you felt you learned something incredibly valuable.

In every case, a mentor brings something to the table that the mentee is lacking: experience.

To find the right mentor for you, have an honest conversation with yourself about your weaknesses. (If it makes you feel better, list your strengths first — lead with the positive!) Could you use some help with public speaking or giving presentations? Does your team feel adrift with you at the helm? Are you seriously talented at sales but pretty hopeless at marketing? What do you need to become the best you can be?

Once you’ve sorted that out, you’ll want to approach someone in the field who has the time, energy, and inclination to give back. Think about it: a mentor has already arrived at the place you’re dreaming of going and has the potential to take you on a journey you never could have imagined. He or she can give you encouragement or kickstart you in a direction and then continue to inspire you as you move forward.

And a good mentor is not a short-term thing: he or she is someone who will remain in a position of trust for the rest of your life. Who knows, you may even get a job offer or a valuable networking opportunity down the road as a result of that connection.

Don’t forget that in order to maintain the quality of a mentor relationship, you need to give back. A good (and smart) mentee is always ready for any task assigned by the mentor, no matter how seemingly trivial at the time. Or you can simply ask how you can offer value in return for their time and effort, as well as show your appreciation in more tangible ways. A thank-you card or email never goes amiss.

If finding a mentor the traditional way doesn’t pan out, you can always contract with someone for business coaching. You’re probably used to paying an expert for their knowledge, whether it’s home maintenance, car repair, or legal advice; this time, it’s simply making an investment in yourself and your future.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

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Paid Mentoring and Business Coaching

If you are having trouble finding a mentor or if you have found a good mentor that does not have the ability to give away their time for free, then it may be a good idea to consider investing in paid mentoring.

Many people still look at mentoring in a very traditional way and imagine a promising young new hire being mentored by a seasoned executive. However, as we saw when talking about reverse mentoring, modern mentoring can exist in a variety of ways. Some people may seem hesitant about paying for mentoring but is it really so odd? Think about it this way, if you know someone who is an expert with Quick Books and you want to have them come teach you how to use it, you wouldn’t think twice about paying them for their time would you?  Is mentoring necessarily so different?

These kinds of transactions are really a form of mentoring in and of themselves. As useful as these transactions are, some people provide this kind of assistance to people in much the same way as a mentor would but do it professionally as what is known as a business coach.

A business coach is someone that can help you develop yourself and in turn, your business. They will hold you accountable and as someone who does this professionally, you can hold them accountable as well. This sort of relationship can also help ease the initial tension or intimidation that may exist in a traditional mentor-mentee relationship, where the mentee may be too timid to ask questions because of the mentor’s position or because they are helping the mentee for free and may find it difficult to ask for more from them.

Just as we have discussed the numerous benefits that mentors can provide in our previous posts, you know that they may be well worth the monetary investment. Even if that great potential mentor that you know is not a business coach and is someone who might be difficult to arrange a paid-mentoring arrangement with, consider buying them lunch to see if you can develop a relationship with them that way. You may very well find that in the long run, these can be some of the best investments you have ever made for yourself or your business.

A mentor-mentee relationship does not have to meet any particular parameters and is always mutually beneficial. Mentoring is really just about investing in yourself and each other to grow personally and professionally, no matter how they come about.

This concludes our series on mentoring as part of January as Mentoring Month, and we hope you have enjoyed it and are either looking for that great mentor, have one that you show your continued appreciation for, are ready to make the jump to star mentoring someone else, or are working to improve yourself as a longtime mentor, with the help of these posts.

If you need legal help with your business matters, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

What is Reverse Mentoring?

Continuing in honor of January as National Mentoring Month, in this post, we will discuss a relatively new development in mentoring known as “reverse mentoring.” Be sure to take a look at our previous posts about how to be a great mentor, how to be a great mentee, and the importance of mentoring and how to find one.

Reverse mentoring is where someone younger acts as a mentor to someone who is older, and this generally corresponds with less experience for the mentor and more experience for the mentee. Now you may be wondering how exactly this works, but if you think about the rapid pace that technology has been transforming our world, it makes a lot of sense. Millennials and the younger generations have been called “technology natives.” They have grown up with computers and technology everywhere and a part of their everyday lives.

A younger “mentor” can help you learn how to use technology to improve your business and your personal productivity. They could help you learn to better make use of social media, your smartphone, or other new technological trends that are more specifically tailored to your industry. These things can help modernize your business to get more customers and help you get more work done easier.

Consider that those who have been in an industry for less time generally tend to be more energetic and enthusiastic about it and can provide you with a refreshingly positive perspective that can inspire you and your business to grow or be willing to take a leap to something new or even start a new business.

As we discussed in our post about being a great mentee, it is important to remember that newer (or younger) is not always better. There are certainly disadvantages to some aspects of new technology. For example, consider hacking and other security concerns with technology, or the difficulty of keeping information confidential with how quickly and easily it is to post things on the internet and have them exist there for “forever.” At the end of the day, technology is here to stay and it is important to keep up with it so that you and your business do not fall behind.

If you have a young employee or know someone that is younger and may be interested in your area of business, consider reaching out to them about developing a mentoring relationship between the two of you. After all, all mentoring relationships are a two-way street and provide benefits to both parties, regardless of if you are in a traditional or “reversed” mentoring situation. Some mentoring relationships may not even have a clear mentor and mentee and may be more fluid. Either way, mentoring will help you develop and help your business, career, and/or entrepreneurial aspirations.

If you need legal assistance for your business or in starting a business, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

How to be a great Mentee

Continuing our ongoing discussion of mentorship as part of National Mentoring Month, we already looked at how to be a great mentor, and this time we will take a look at the other side of the mentoring relationship and talk about how to be a great mentee. If you are having trouble finding a mentor in your industry, look here for tips.

As a mentee, it is important to remember just how fortunate it is to have a mentor and how valuable their time is. Remember to always be respectful and understanding of your mentor’s time and look for ways to make scheduling easier for both of you. Make sure that you are thoughtful and putting in all the necessary effort to develop this relationship. Look for ways to show your appreciation by writing thank you notes and look for ways to do something for them when you can.

If there is a significant age (or other) difference between you two, remember to appreciate and understand where they are coming from. If it is age, keep in mind that while technology and other aspects of the modern world has changed, most of the fundamentals underlying the way businesses function have not, and there is still much you can learn about them. Understanding how things got to be the way they are and how people used to work in those conditions can provide great insight in today’s world and how to avoid making mistakes of the past. Remember that newer is not always better.

Mentors can be intimidating and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and a little afraid to ask questions. However, asking questions is an essential part of any mentor-mentee relationship, and you should work hard to be confident and not to hesitate to ask thoughtful questions. Neither one of you benefits from a lack of comprehension, so do not be afraid to politely interrupt your mentor, so you can follow along and understand what they are telling you. Nevertheless, this should not be a shortcut to knowledge, and you should be sure that you are putting in your fair share of outside effort to learn so that they are not babying you along the way. Your mentor should let you know if a question is one that they cannot answer or if they need more time to think about it before answering. Candid conversations are important in developing an honest relationship between you and your mentor, so remember to be honest and be prepared to listen to criticism that may be blunt at times.

Think of the mentor-mentee relationship as a two-way street. While sometimes it may be hard to see what you have to contribute, remember that just providing a fresh perspective on something, even if it is a less-experienced one, is still useful in and of itself. Over time, you will learn what your mentor is an expert on and what areas they may have room for growth that you may be able to help facilitate through your own expertise. If you put in the effort, respect, and appreciation, you will be on your way to being a great mentee that will be able to achieve more of your personal and business goals through this rewarding relationship.

If you need legal assistance with your next business goal, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

How to be a great Mentor

Previously, we have discussed how to find a mentor in your industry, but with the start of the new year and beginning of January, which is National Mentoring Month, we are going to take another, more in-depth look at mentoring, starting off with how to be a great mentor.

If you already have a mentor, then you already know about the many benefits. Mentors are someone that you can talk to about your problems, your goals, and your successes. A mentor can lend you their wisdom and insight that they have gained from their experiences, so that you learn from them. Getting knowledgeable and candid feedback from a mentor is a priceless resource for you and your business matters.

One of the most important things about mentorship is that it is almost never too early to begin mentoring someone else, even if you yourself have never had a mentor. The key to being a great mentor is not about there being a big age difference between the mentor and mentee; it really just comes down to having experiences that the mentee does not have. Perhaps you have started a business before and whether or not it was successful, that is a unique experience that many people do not have and you probably learned a lot from it. This alone could make you a great mentor to someone considering being an entrepreneur. You can talk about what went wrong and what went right, discuss what you would have done different now that you have the luxury of hindsight.

In order to be a great mentor, be sure that you make yourself available to your mentee. If you are too difficult to get ahold of or to schedule with, it is going to be hard to develop a good relationship. Make sure you let your mentee know that their questions are welcome and always try to provide thorough feedback that is constructive. Do not be overly negative and remember that while you do want to help your mentee avoid making mistakes and overcoming them, mistakes should not be pointed out all the time and they can even be an important learning tool for your mentee.

There are many benefits to being a mentor too. As many tutors and teachers can attest to, teaching is one of the best ways to learn. By imparting your knowledge on someone else, you are giving yourself an opportunity to think through something again from a new perspective of being a mentor/teacher. This is greater understanding is tested and ultimately strengthened by the questions and fresh perspective that will come from your mentee. Your mentee may be able to teach you a thing or two about something they have more knowledge or experience in, giving you a chance to grow. Perhaps even by virtue of their youth, they may be well-versed in the newest aspects of your field or how technology can be used in it, giving you some new skills.

Overall, mentorship is a powerful tool for mutual personal development that you should consider sooner rather than later to improve yourself and in turn improve your ability to reach your business goals.

If you need legal assistance with your next business goal, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.