Mentorship Management with Derek Szeto

Framework curated by Erin Wynn, Manager of Education and Evaluation at MindFrame Connect

Derek Szeto is the current co-founder of Walnut, a serial entrepreneur, an angel investor, and has experience as both a mentee and mentor in the tech and innovation sphere in Canada. Here, he reviews the MindFrame Connect Principles that most resonated with him, and how he has used them to create value in his mentorships.

You Need to Ask

Know what your “ask” is means assessing your strengths and weaknesses before you enter the mentor session. Take time to prepare for your session and understand which areas you need your mentor to provide support around. Identification of your own growth areas will make your time with a mentor more efficient and provide you with stronger action items through your time together. Check out “Assessing your Skills Gaps” for more information on how to identify your development areas and strengths.

Challenge Your Mentors

Conflict can provide keen insights into your venture building approach and how your mentor may see things differently. In lieu of avoiding or attacking your mentor during conflict, engage with the issue directly by seeking to understand their point of view and providing yours. Often, there is learning and knowledge present in both sides of a conflict, and your role as mentee is to respectfully seek the most information to use on your professional journey.

Take Advice with a Grain of Salt

The information that is provided from your mentor is from their point of view, their experience, and what they think will be helpful to you. All of these points of information help you, the mentee, decide on your best path forward. As an entrepreneur, you are ultimately responsible to make the choices that make the most sense for your business and your life. Mentor feedback helps you decide, but the final call lays with you.

Harness the Digital Transition

Reach out to people globally using remote technologies and digital tools. The ability to connect with networks and people who are interested in solving the same problems as you is at an all-time high! Use this to your advantage by reaching out and seeking mentors, insights, and peers from varied sources in your field. This article on cold calling potential mentors can help you get started.

Diversity Your Mentors

Industry, family background, gender, ethnicity, race… all are important considerations for building a diverse personal board or network of mentors who can represent various viewpoints during your venture building. Your network and your mentors should not only represent one identity, or one approach to the work – if they do, you are probably missing out on crucial information and learnings.

Further Reading

How to Make Mentorship Work in Startup World

How to Prepare for a Mentor Session MindFrame Connect

How to ask Someone to Mentor You Yale Career Development

The Right Mentor Can Change Your Career. Here’s how to Find One. NPR  

What’s the Right Way to Find a Mentor? Harvard Business Review

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