I am continually amazed at the horror stories I hear from entrepreneurs about finding mentors. About mentors taking large pieces of the company and not providing any value in return. It was great to see David Cohen’s The Mentor Manifesto this morning. It is great to see David take the time from his 11 cohorts at TechStars and try to explain “What does it mean to be a great mentor?”. This is an extension of his tips for entrepreneurs that includes how to Find and Engage Great Mentors as part of his top twelve startup tips.
The Mentor Manifesto
- Be socratic.
- Expect nothing in return (you’ll be delighted with what you do get back).
- Be authentic / practice what you preach.
- Be direct. Tell the truth, however hard.
- Listen too.
- The best mentor relationships eventually become two-way.
- Be responsive.
- Adopt at least one company every single year. Experience counts.
- Clearly separate opinion from fact.
- Hold information in confidence.
- Clearly commit to mentor or do not. Either is fine.
- Know what you don’t know. Say I don’t know when you don’t know. “I don’t know” is preferable to bravado.
- Guide, don’t control. Teams must make their own decisions. Guide but never tell them what to do. Understand that it’s their company, not yours.
- Accept and communicate with other mentors that get involved.
- Be optimistic.
- Provide specific actionable advice, don’t be vague.
- Be challenging/robust but never destructive.
- Have empathy. Remember that startups are hard.