Do you have a mentor? Would you like a mentor? Are you thinking….Why would I need a mentor? Do you think having a mentor is a sign of weakness? Do you think having mentor will help or is it just a waste of both your time? It is an interesting consideration. There is no right or wrong answer because it depends on the individual and where they are at in their journey. In my opinion, the journey can be a lot easier with a mentor or two in your life. Why? Because, despite how talented we are, sometimes having someone you can trust who also has more experience than you in a particular area can help you to grow and develop quicker, but more importantly more robustly. Having a mentor, should not be considered the same as a " Get out of Jail Free "card in monopoly. Having a mentor, will mean that you will be challenged by them. They will not be an open book. Good mentors will open your eyes, but also set you challenges which are not always going to be easy. They do this, so that you can learn and develop by actually experiencing the subject area, and therefore you will understand the how - what - why and when.
I was fortunate to have had a great mentor when I first started my working life. After completing my Honours Degree in Engineering, I secured employment as an engineering cadet with PBR Automotive who were leaders in light weight brake systems for the Automotive industry. After completing the cadet program, I was assigned to the foundation brake group, headed by the GM of Manufacturing Engineering, Francis Ng. Francis, was probably the best manager I have worked for and definitely made a significant impression in my life. He knew and understood the business and industry exceptionally well. Over his professional lifetime, Francis had specialised experience in product development, testing, manufacturing and quality systems across the foundation brake and actuation portfolios. You could say that I was like Luke Skywalker and Francis was like a Yoda. Working for him was great because he:
a) defended and protected his team to allow them to get on with their responsibilities,
b) provided the oxygen to deliver objectives and explore innovative ways to add value and deliver robust solutions
c) lead by example and supported his team with a wealth of experience so they could develop sound logic and problems solving capabilities
d) was patient, pragmatic, encouraging and set high standard for his team.
As I developed through my career into senior leadership roles, I found myself taking a similar approach to Francis. What I learnt years later when I found myself in these leadership roles, is that part of being a good and effective leader means that it is more than just delivering the strategic plan and good results. To be a good and effective leader, also means that you need to invest in your people and part of this investment is being available with your own time and knowledge to help members in your team to grow and develop. So over the years, I have indirectly mentored ( via stealth ) or directly mentored ( via being asked by an individual) a number of people ranging across some at the early stages of the career journey to others well past the midpoint of their career journey.
Since stepping out from the corporate world and starting my own business, I have had to learn and do a lot more for myself. I have had to leverage my wealth of knowledge along with discovering a range of free to reasonably priced resources available that helps to some extent. When starting out, it is important not to get too carried away with outgoing cash, not until you reach a point that you can justify it. Setting up processes and system are the easy aspects of business in my opinion; most likely because I have been surrounded by them throughout my work life. The areas where I have found challenging is in the marketing, networking, knowing where to look for prospects and then understanding how to access them. These are things which I see now I took for granted when working in the corporate space. It is in these areas I now wish I had a mentor or two that I can trust to help me along my journey.
Upon reflection, I do know some people in the space who would I admire and find inspiring because of what they have done and were they are at. There are a lot of big names out there like Tony Robins, Jack Welch, Warren Buffett, Arianna Huffington and Ramit Sethi but they are on the other side of the world and although they each would have a lot of great advise, the US market is different to the dynamics of the Australian and Asian regions. When I look locally, three people come to mind:
Simon Madden: I reached out to Simon earlier this year after his profile popped up while I was on LinkedIN. Simon is a former Essendon VFL/AFL player and as a kid I had his number on the back of my jumper. Simon is an interesting character because he has transitioned across several different careers, including primary school teaching, elite sport ( Football), sales and now consulting. I reached out and asked if he would be up for a coffee to meet and learn more about his experience in performance management. He agreed to meet up for a 45 minutes over a coffee. He asked me some questions about myself and I think he liked what he heard because one thing led to another and before I knew it, 2.5 hours and 2 coffees later our meeting was over. I learnt a lot from this meeting. Simon is genuine and frank and offered some helpful tips. I’d welcome the opportunity have some ongoing coffee time with Simon, because it is obvious he is a wealth of knowledge. I know I can learn a lot more from him on how address the challenges I currently face.
Mark Truelson: I know Mark from my time at Britax, where he facilitated some strategic planing activities. Mark has a fantastic story, has a great nature and is truly inspirational on the way he has dealt with the pressures of his home life while building a successful business. For the same reason, I’d welcome the chance to have some mentoring from Mark to learn more about the art of communication and hopefully along the way learn more about how to find the right fish pond.
Mary Goldsmith: I met Mary about 5 or 6 years ago when she worked for Right Management in Melbourne. Mary was my transition coach as part of the Autoliv Australia closure. I found Mary to be a very warm, genuine and humble person. What impressed me about Mary is that she doesn’t talk a lot of hype. Her style is very grounded and I hold her in high regard. Mary has transitioned also and has her own practise where she coaches on career development and career transition. To be able to have contact with someone like Mary with her skills to offer relevant tips and pointers to sharpen up my skill would be invaluable.
I see mentors or people you know of, which have a skill that you would like to have or improve on, to be important for your development and a valuable source of reference. Seeking out someone for some help who you know a little about and find inspiring will more than likely result in you being provided with relevant information as apposed to being provided with theory.
The Wrap Up
This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 6