Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Value of Mentoring

I was in Sydney last year to attend Matt Church's excellent Million Dollar Expert Program. It was the fourth time I've done it! You might say I'm a slow learner; I prefer to think I'm a discerning connoisseur of quality :-) One of the main reasons I attended was because Matt was running it, and Matt has been one of my most influential mentors over the years. If it had been presented by somebody else, I would have been less inclined to go, and I probably wouldn't have got as much out of it. It got me thinking about the value of mentoring in general. It's something I've done a lot - both as a mentor and as a mentoree. So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts here. I hope you find this useful, especially if you haven't used a mentor before.

1. Work with the best.

If you're going to use a mentor, you might as well get the best. I've had the privilege of Glenn Capelli mentoring me in presentation skills, Matt Church mentoring me in my thought leadership and intellectual property, Creel Price mentoring me in entrepreneurship, Paul Counsel mentoring me in wealth creation, and David Penglase mentoring me in sales and business development. Some of these names might not be familiar to you, but believe me when I say they are all masters at what they do. And these are just the people I've paid for mentoring. There are many others I've followed and learned from, of course.

2. Make an investment.

I don't think it's necessarily true that free advice is only worth what you pay for it, but I do think it's easier to be motivated to take action when you pay for the advice. Paying for mentoring helps me keep myself accountable for the return on investment. I suggest you do the same. (By the way, the going rate for one-on-one mentoring seems to be around $3,000-$5,000 for a three-month program)

3. Make a commitment.

Paying for mentoring is a good start, but it's not necessarily a commitment. Do something more to commit yourself - set up a support group with other mentorees, announce it publicly, hire a staff member you can't afford in anticipation of your success, whatever. [pullquote]Paying for mentoring helps me keep myself accountable for the return on investment.[/pullquote] The first year Matt was mentoring me, I spent more time sitting in airplanes flying between Perth and Sydney than I actually did sitting down with Matt. That was a huge commitment of energy and time, but it really motivated me to make the most of the mentoring.

4. Set a goal.

Come to your mentor with a clear goal. My best mentoring clients are those who come to me with specific goals and plans in mind, and we can then work together on how to achieve those goals. I've learned that it helps my mentors if I do the same when the roles are reversed.

5. Do it their way.

Whenever I learn something new, I immediately start thinking of how I can improve it! I suspect I'm not alone! But this isn't appropriate for a mentoring relationship, so I have to keep stopping myself from "improving" my mentor's advice. Ask lots of questions, but don't argue. They've got the experience, so do it their way, not yours. For example, when David Penglase was mentoring me in business development, the path he suggested for me was very different from the path I had in mind. But it would have been crazy for me to insist on doing it my way.

6. Follow through.

There's no point getting the advice if you don't use it. Mentoring is not like reading a book, watching a keynote, or attending a training course, where you sift through the information and figure out what's relevant to you. It's not for you to pick and choose. That's your mentor's job; yours is to do it. (From the other side of the table, I know my favourite - and most successful - mentoring clients are those who follow through with their actions)

7. Just do it!

I believe mentoring is the fastest way to accelerate your growth, in whatever area of your business you'd like to improve. So please do it sooner rather than later. Even if it seems like a big investment, it's worth it!

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