Mentorship: Getting Started

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

Why Mentorship Matters  

Globally, top entrepreneurs and founders credit mentorship relationships with some of the most insightful learnings they received while developing and managing their ventures. Research tells us that entrepreneurs who engage in mentorship increase their skills in opportunity recognition, coachability, and resilience – even reporting the development of more profitable ventures than those without mentors*. Many mentors cite the experience of mentoring as one that provides them with exposure to innovative ways of thinking and operating. Evidently, mentorship is a promising practice to further develop the Canadian entrepreneurship ecosystem.

* Kurato, D., Neubert, E., Marvel, M., “Insights on the mentorship and coachability of mentors”, Business Horizons 64, no. 2 (March-April 2021): 199

Mentors Should…

Be Accessible.

Make time for your mentee and communicate your preferred style of meeting. The best model of meeting is the one that you and your mentee will consistently use. Some options for meeting management are included in the bibliography below, and our recommendation is to commit to the relationship and host the mentee with authenticity and mutual respect.

“You will only be effective if you have a strong base of mutual trust and if the individual knows that you care deeply about them and their interests. Trying to offer advice without this foundation is like trying to push water uphill.” – Janet Bannister

Be Inclusive.

Entrepreneurs, founders, and mentors come from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds. Awareness and proactive education around equity and inclusion can help mentors respect and learn from these differences, as well as identify how to best support mentees using the mentors’ unique lived experiences.  

“We need to put more power in the hands of people who don’t have bias, give them power and authority, and respect their thoughts and decisions, so that we can see a shift in the patterns of what success looks like for under-represented communities” – Elaine Kunda

Be Clear.

Define the expectations of your mentee and ask them to do the same for you. Clarity in the roles of mentor and
mentee, expectations of access and time, and a shared definition of what the mentorship relationship will look like ensures a smoother and more efficient mentorship experience.  

“It is important to consider the tone of delivery of questions. It is okay to be challenging and rigorous but remember not to be hostile and destructive.” – Brice Scheschuk

Be Prepared.

Treat mentorship as a discipline and dedicate attention to improving your craft. Ask for feedback from your mentee, gather resources from programs like MindFrame Connect, and develop your own frameworks and mental models to enhance your mentoring abilities.

“I see it as the responsibility of every successful entrepreneur to act as a mentor and coach for the next generation of entrepreneurs.” – Steve Case


Mentor Manifesto Techstars

Techstars Mentor Manifesto in Detail FeldThoughts

Mentoring in Startup Ecosystems Ross School of Business

Socratic Questions Changing Minds

Radical Candor Kim Scott

Kuratko, Donald & Neubert, Emily & Marvel, Matthew. (2020). Insights on the mentorship and coachability of entrepreneurs. Business Horizons, 64. 10.1016/j.bushor.2020.11.001.

Additional Resources:

Macro: Charlie Munger’s Worldly Wisdom, Farnam Street Mental Models, Duke Thinking in Bets, etc.

Founder Competencies: Mantella Venture Partners, etc.

Founder Behaviour and Mindset: Taleb Antifragile, Dweck Mindset, Sherman Stoic Wisdom, Duckworth Grit, Jensen The Power of Pressure, Severinghaus Scale Your Everest, etc.

Core Values and Culture: Horowitz What You Do Is Who You Are, Harnish Scaling Up, Amazon Working Backwards, Dalio Principles, Netflix Culture Deck, etc.

Talent and Performance: Modified Warren Buffet People Criteria, Doerr Measure What Matters, Version One Start-up Handbook etc.

Team Leadership and Dynamics: Amazon Single Threaded Leadership, Google’s re:Work, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, etc.

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