Christopher Fong is the Founder of Xoogler, a group of Google alumni and current Googlers who have come together to help each other advance their ambitions in the start-up ecosystem. With years of experience as both an entrepreneur and mentor, Fong sat down with Globalive Capital Founder, Anthony Lacavera to discuss effectiveness and the art of mentorship.
When it comes to mentoring, Fong identifies several key strengths that support being an effective mentor:
Empathy is the foundation for connecting with others and is an essential skill for both entrepreneurship and mentoring. In many cases, successful mentors bring an abundance of experience, achievements, and knowledge to the mentor-mentee relationship. However, it can often be difficult for mentors, who are at different stages in life, to understand the unique start-up journey of the mentee and demonstrate empathy for their current standing in the ecosystem.
In this article from the Together Platform, they break down examples of empathetic communication in the mentorship space which includes finding common ground, understanding a variety of perspectives, and how to best bring positivity to your conversations. As they mention in the article, “using empathy helps us to navigate our relationships and the world around us, and it is a critical piece of emotional intelligence.”
For those new to the concept, we encourage you to explore the concept of empathetic communication as a skill that can be learned and enhanced over time – in addition to the readily available resources on the topic, such as this beginner course from LinkedIn titled ‘Communicating with Empathy’ with Empathy and Inclusion Expert, Sharon Steed and ‘How to Mentor with Empathy’ from our team at MindFrame Connect.
Fong established the Xoogler network in 2015, and has since noted the growth of the knowledge base within the network, which includes the ability to scale and the confidence to think big from day one. Whether you’re a fan of networking or not, there is no argument that networking and forging new connections in the ecosystem is one of the most important business skills available to entrepreneurs.
As a mentor, you bring to the mentor-mentee relationship a unique collection of contacts that can support mentees with fundraising, hiring resources, customer introductions and more. As mentioned in The Benefits of Having a Mentor, “having a mentor increases a mentees’ visibility by providing new networking opportunities and identifying potential collaborators of influence within their field of expertise. Being introduced to these new contacts by a mentor makes it more likely that mentees are remembered, and that the mentee’s resume or work is given more than a cursory glance when presented. It also provides access to a large pool of references for further career advancement.”
Asking the right questions is one of the most effective tools mentors can provide to early-stage mentees as they begin their journey. As Fong notes in the video, the earlier in an individual’s career that they have access to coaching and 1:1 mentoring sessions, the better. At MindFrame Connect we’ve included ‘Ask Probing Questions’ as Principle Nine in the Principles of Mentorship and are continually adding frameworks and external resources on the topic here.
Leveraging simple frameworks on question-asking can be a simple, yet useful, tool to implement with a mentee. Anthony K. Tjan from the Harvard Business Review recommends this framework which utilizes five simple questions. The mentorship framework, first inspired by wellness guru Deepak Chopra, has evolved and been used over the years by countless professionals across the ecosystem.
Examples Of Empathy in The Workplace. Together Platform
Communicating with Empathy, LinkedIn
Networking: The Benefits of Having a Mentor, Aiche.org
Five Questions Every Mentor Should Ask. Harvard Business Review
We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.