Framework curated by Meghann Coleman, Director at MindFrame Connect
Sheertex is an emerging growth company that designs and manufactures breakthrough materials for the apparel industry. Founder and CEO, Katherine Homuth had a clear vision of the size and scale of the company she was building from its early inception. However, her ambitious vision did not always align with the advice provided by mentors and those around her. In fact, Katherine said she often was told to “play small” to avoid risk despite her global aspirations.
The biggest lesson learned: take advice with a grain of salt. As a mentee and entrepreneur, you are ultimately responsible for the growth and trajectory of your company. And you will receive a lot of advice – not all of it good – so learning to filter and trust your own gut instinct is imperative to creating the business you envision.
In a Forbes article on the topic, TechStars Chicago mentor, George Deeb suggested the following to decipher advice – listen to the experience of the person providing it. Think about whether this mentor has built a business in your industry or has faced similar challenges. Once you have determined that, weigh the “volume” of the mentor’s voice based on their direct first-hand knowledge in your space. If they have experience that is relevant and useful, you will want to consider what they say. If they are simply voicing their opinion with no direct experience, it might be best to say thank you and move on.
Angela Hood, Founder and CEO of ThisWay Global wrote about her own experience in an article on Minute.com. It took time and experience, but Angela learned that “even bad advice doesn’t necessarily come from a place of malice. Rather, it’s more about bias or ignorance.” Determining what advice to accept, and from, who gets easier the more you practice it.
The following questions can be used as criteria for navigating advice from others:
If you answer ‘no’ to at least two of the above, it might not be the advice you are looking for. Not to say all your mentors must have the same industry experience, but they do have to inspire and celebrate your big vision; they must push you forward despite the challenges you will face.
For Homuth, one of her biggest challenges was overcoming people telling her the reasons why her company was not going to work rather than the reason why it could (and would) work. In fact, she had to seek mentorship outside of Canada to find people who could really push her thinking forward. She often asked herself the question “why not us?” as a mantra for staying on course. Remaining true to her vision and ambition paid off, as Sheertex continues to grow, scale and lead the industry.
Homuth’s advice to mentees who are just starting out: “remain confident in where you are trying to go and have faith in yourself. Take as much as you can from your mentor conversations – show up to them being completely honest and transparent, but remember to not take it too prescriptively”
How do you filter mentor advice? Tell us at MindFrameConnect.com
How To Filter Conflicting Advice from Multiple Mentors. Forbes.com
Startup Founders Get No Shortage of Advice—Not All of It Good. Here’s How to Filter the Signals from the Noise. Minutes.co
Unbreakable pantyhose maker Sheertex raises $101-million led by retail giant H&M to expand business. The Globe and Mail
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