Most people believe that it’s entrepreneurs who benefit from mentorship. But Andrew Griffiths in his article in Inc. Now is the Perfect Time to Start Mentoring Someone The unexpected benefits of the mentor relationship. makes the case that mentors also benefit from the relationship.
There is something about discussing another person’s business issues and looking at them with fresh eyes and without the emotional attachment that comes when the problems are yours. You realize you have experience and that you’ve solved problems for yourself in the past. And often, you hear the words coming out of your mouth that sound wise and practical and realize that this is exactly the advice you need to hear for yourself right now. Sometimes it a little freaky how it work.
In fact I always allow 30 minutes after a mentoring session to sit and think about what I’ve learned and the list has grown very long over the years. Some of my best business ideas have come about as a result of session where I am mentoring someone and giving them advice about their business.
What I get out of mentoring is simple: inspiration. The founders I mentor at MIT and Social Innovation Forum are full bright, full of optimism and focused on making an impact on the world. I’ve yet to see a founder in eight years of mentoring whose motivation was just making money. I can understand now the benefits of being a professor and every year getting a new crop of exciting your people eager to learn and building new things. Being a mentor is as close as I’ll get to that position.
Being a mentor is the best way to stay on top of what’s new in technology, as students, faculty and alumni are always working at the cutting edge and base their startups there. And it’s mainly my mentoring sessions that provide the seed idea for my blog posts here on Mentorphile.com.
MIT’s Venture Mentoring team mentoring approach provides a double bottom line benefit for its mentors: I learn not only from the founders, but also a tremendous amount from my team mentors, all of whom have been carefully chosen by VMS for their accomplishments and ability to mentor others. Every mentor brings a different, but valuable set of experiences and expertise, to the mentoring sessions. And while VMS has in excess of 140 mentors, I do get to work with some of the same mentor again. VMS mentoring has become so popular that there now is a substantial waiting list.
But VMS isn’t the only game in town. If you are interested in becoming a mentor virtually every accelerator, incubator and academic entrepreneurship program has a mentorship component, so finding an opportunity shouldn’t be hard. And as a former entrepreneur you’re an expert at ferreting out opportunities, right?