I recently received an email from a dear friend asking me if I can help her find a mentor. I work with teens weekly via my nonprofit Mogul Academy pairing young people up with individuals that are doing the things the kids want to do when they grow up. My network is huge, so I have the resources and relationships to connect people. I've never been asked by an adult to pair them with a mentor- but the notion uncovered a major stigma that may have been the reason for a lack of asking.
As adults, we were raised to believe that once you grow up, you figure it all out on your own because that's what adults do. That's a drastic difference from what and how we were raised. We were raised with authority figures within every realm of our life and once the teen is dropped from your age and or you graduate from college -that leadership is gone, but we don't stop growing and learning. We, as adults still need guidance and people to make sure we are heading in the right direction. I have 3 tangible mentors and 2 virtual mentors. Oddly, they are all men and the majority of them may be classified as my peers. They are Gary Vaynerchuck, Israel Idonije, Jeff Johnson, Vusi Thembekwayo, and Steve Canal - thank you for giving me the tools to # CrushIt!
I felt it was necessary to find people doing the things I want to do and do it on the level I imagine myself doing it. All of my mentors have similar personality traits as me and make me believe daily that I can achieve the same level of greatness. I'm still searching for the ultimate female mentor. So, how can I go about finding her and how did I find these guys? Here are five steps to take in order to find your mentor as an adult.
Get Out There.
It's very important that you research events that cater to your main area of interest so that you can meet people and or possible mentors that are experts within your industry. If you want advice or want to study the stellar moves and decisions made by a rock star within your field to help you grow within your area of concentration, focus on events that cater to your particular niche. I'm all for building, networking, and sharing - the person that does that best is Gary Vaynerchuck aka GaryVee. When I met him I crashed a conference in downtown Chicago focused on getting two minutes of his time. I risked being put out and possibly arrested (take a chance honey) because I value his advice that much. Just ten seconds of his guidance is worth a year of lessons learned.
Open your mouth.
This is the hardest part for most people because everyone fears being rejected. Finding a mentor is like finding a spouse, coach, best friend or boss with a cold call. You have to pitch yourself in such a way that it makes them feel special and you worthy enough of their precious time. You need them but they don't need you. Attempt to study who they are and what matters to them the most, make sure that their values match up with yours and open your mouth to ask for help and a partnership. It's best to do these things face to face to ensure that the synergy is right. When I met Steve Canal I gave him a few compliments about his work ethic and how I want him to mentor me because I admire his work/life balance. Don't be afraid to say what you want upfront and why.
I usually follow up with value. If I know my mentor wants to be on tv and enjoys sharing his opinion and would be amazing on the morning show with Kelly Ripa, I'll reach out to the show's producer and pitch him and share that with him. Doing so shows that I value his mentoring and I can/may add value to him and his business. It's best to show your mentor that you're not all about taking but that you give as well.
Document your game plan.
Everyone wants somebody to help them but most aren't willing to help themselves. If you want someone to take you seriously you have to show your work. This is more so about mindset and execution. It's one thing to have a dream and vision and another to be active and develop it. If you want a potential mentor to respond to your inquiry about guidance, you have to show them what you're working on and with, talent wise. This is the "show and prove" stage. Before sharing a big idea with your mentor, I would advise you document your ideas, action plans and progress within an email to yourself. Then feel free to share a summary with your mentor with a disclaimer at the bottom for to serve as a nondisclosure agreement. This will aid in protecting you and your idea. It's happened to me and I don't want it to happen to you. I was made aware of how to protect myself and my ideas when I told Jeff Johnson about one of my ideas and how people constantly stole them. He informed me of the NDA option and made me aware of the intellectual property concept.
Swallow Your Pride
Lastly, don't be too big to be the intern.
Most of the groundbreaking information I learned about the entertainment industry and how to build a relationship with the real deal makers was being a little ol’ intern. That job then landed me a role as a personal assistant and then I was able to launch my own Public Relations business. Thanks to the insight of my mentor, I was able to see the value in being behind the camera. I was able to approach him with a clear focus on what I wanted and needed from a mentor of his caliber. He was impressed by my directness and focus. For that, he gave me precious tips and support over the years. If you can only get a few seconds of time for flash mentoring, take it. The lesson here is to be open to all opportunities a potential mentor is willing to give you. If you have the true goods you'll be able to work your way up to the top immediately.