York University’s Chris Carder explains the critical skills mentees need to get the most out of mentorship
Curated by: Stefan Palios in partnership with MindFrame Connect
When you sit down in a mentorship meeting, that time is solely dedicated to your success as a founder. It’s a weird feeling sometimes, particularly when you’re likely used to serving everyone else–investors, customers, and team members–before serving yourself.
Mentor meetings are truly a time for you to talk about your challenges and (hopefully) get solutions, insights, or next steps. However, with that benefit comes responsibility.
As a mentee, you have to own the meeting in a way that’s helpful to you in the end, but respectful of your mentor during the process. You also have to respect the broader, time-honoured tradition of mentorship; there’s more to the relationship than someone with experience giving you tips.
Chris Carder, a successful entrepreneur who is now the Executive Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Schulich School of Business, shared more about the little details that strengthen your skills as a mentee.
Carder views mentorship as a way for mentees to look deeper into themselves in two ways:
It’s important to think about these questions for yourself, both objectively and as they apply to the challenges you’re facing in your business because it rapidly accelerates your learning.
“The mentors I had helped me open a door faster than I would have been able to open it on my own to a key insight or realization,” said Carder. “And I just want to share every mistake I ever made, every mistake I've ever seen, and give them a way to go faster and spend less time having to learn.”
From a mindset perspective, Ian Chisholm, Founding Partner of the Roy Group, shared his framework that mentees have to think about four different head spaces:
Connecting both of these perspectives will help you as a mentee become more self-aware in the meetings—that means you can become more open with your mentor and hopefully have more fruitful conversations.
Carder said having the right mindset is the start, not the end of menteeship. Improving your skills as a mentee means taking action—both in the context of a meeting and in your business.
Nagar Rahmani, Partner at Maverix Private Equity, shared that her three keys to successful menteeship are:
This is also in line with what mentors say they wish mentees knew. David Lao, a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and mentor to newcomer CPAs, said his top advice for mentees is three-fold:
And there’s an additional benefit: menteeship skills can translate into your business. For example, getting in the habit of action-oriented follow-ups is a valuable business development skill. And getting comfortable making the ask for something is a way to close new customers, investors, and partners, or even to find other mentors.
Carder also talked about what mentors are taught, sharing that mentorship relationships fall apart without trust.
Understanding if you have that trust, though, can be elusive. To Carder, it’s about what a founder does in the moments they feel scared, stuck, or lost.
“Become the person that that mentee turns to when they have that big, bold moment that they have to roll the dice,” said Carder.
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