The Origin of MindFrame Connect

MindFrame Connect began in 2020, as an exploration of what it means to be a mentor in Canada.

Co-founder, Brice Scheschuk identified a pain point as he was embarking on his own mentorship journey. Many organizations offer mentorship programs, but ongoing support and training is needed on a regular basis to improve and refine performance. This began a deep dive into the topic with over 150 interviews conducted with a variety of notable individuals and resulted in a draft manuscript titled “Mentoring Innovators”, which is currently under edit and to be published on by early 2023.

These interviews made it clear that mentors are eager to enhance their craft and require high-quality, responsive resources to do so. It also identified the need to support entrepreneurs from a behavioural and psychological perspective.

Here is an excerpt from the Mentoring Innovators manuscript on the origin of MindFrame Connect as shared by Brice Scheschuk:

The idea for this started on March 20, 2018. On that very cold morning, I found myself in Halifax, Nova Scotia, about to attend my first Creative Destruction Lab (“CDL”) mentor session at Dalhousie University, my alma mater. CDL is a non-profit organization that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies. CDL started at the University of Toronto and has expanded to 20 streams (Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Climate, etc.) at twelve campuses across Canada, the U.S., the UK, Germany, Estonia and France. The program relies heavily on experienced mentors (often previous founders or professional investors) giving time and judgement in a structured setting to accelerate company development. Prior to attending this session, I had never participated in organized group mentorship – i.e., where multiple mentors are working together in the same room at the same time to guide companies. I had a lot of experience with mentorship, or so I thought, but it was always providing guidance in isolation to individuals or companies in various contexts. I had not seen other mentors in action, had not formally trained to be a mentor, and had not been evaluated on my mentorship capabilities.

My world was about to be rocked.

Companies spend the morning rotating through a sequence of 20-minute meetings with groups of three mentors at a time. In the afternoon, all mentors and companies convene, and the mentors spend nine minutes per company evaluating and critiquing objectives that would be set for the next eight weeks, when the process would be repeated, and progress assessed. There were over 50 mentors in the afternoon session and every discussion was public and transparent. I can honestly say that I was nervous going into the day and became even more nervous as the day wore on. There was an incredible collection of Canadian business leaders in the room giving their time and judgement to the next generation of entrepreneurs. At times I was scared to speak and for the first time in my life I felt “Mentor Impostor Syndrome”.

I kept asking myself:

  • Do I have the judgement required to advise entrepreneurs?
  • What is the most effective way to provide guidance to entrepreneurial teams building businesses?
  • How can I show-up and add value alongside some of Canada’s most illustrious business leaders and technology investors?
  • How does one optimize the format of a 20 minute “mentor madness” session to get to key objectives and insights?
  • Am I wasting people’s time?

From that day forward, I vowed to myself that I would learn and develop practices that would make me a better mentor. I knew I had the kernel of operating and investing experience from my business career. What I needed to do was learn the principles of mentorship and menteeship to hone my delivery of judgement in the most effective manner. I have spent the last two and a half years in hundreds of mentor settings and have studied, observed, and tested many principles and practices to become a better mentor.

MindFrame Connect is the culmination of that journey.

Understanding the Canadian Innovation Ecosystem

With the benefit of interviewing over 150 leaders in business, academia, and entrepreneurship, it became clear that there’s two major gaps in the Canadian Innovation Ecosystem:

  • Most mentorship programs have limited onboarding and/or opportunity to enhance the craft of being a mentor
  • Covid-19 and its residual effects has brought prominence to the idea that entrepreneurs need to be supported from a psychological and behavioural perspective; not just venture-building

Using the firsthand knowledge from those actively mentoring and running businesses in the ecosystem, MindFrame Connect launched its offerings, which includes:

  • Synchronous (live) keynote/workshops: Principles of Mentorship, Principles of Menteeship, Entrepreneurial Resilience, Accelerating Mentorship (for Program Staff) and Inclusive Mentorship
  • Asynchronous (on-demand) training: eCourses focused on Mentorship, Menteeship and Entrepreneurial Resilience; opportunity to micro-credential
  • Open-source online library: frameworks, videos, and learning aids made available for free on the website
  • Ecosystem events: open ecosystem events that bring experts, researchers, and entrepreneurs together to share best practices and key insights

Since its inception in October 2021, MindFrame Connect has transformed a manuscript on mentorship into an impact initiative focused on making the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada (and beyond) more effective. To date, MindFrame Connect has accomplished the following:

  • Completed ninety-three in-person and/or virtual workshops
  • Delivered workshops to over 2,000 participants in MindFrame Connect's two program streams: Improving the Craft of Mentorship and Creating Resilient Entrepreneurs
  • Reached attendees via virtual workshops from across Canada, US, UK, Sweden, Ukraine, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, India, Pakistan, Vietnam

Of the 700 surveyed MindFrame Connect participants, 94% said “agree” or “strongly agree” on whether they would recommend the workshop to their network while 97.5% said they would implement what they learned in the session in their professional life. Finally, 89% of those who participated in MindFrame Connect programming said that they would like to take part in future sessions.

The response to MindFrame Connect demonstrates not only the need in the ecosystem, but the importance of upskilling mentors and entrepreneurs to perform at a higher level. What began as a personal journey of self-improvement has evolved into a dynamic space for upskilling Canadian mentors, mentees, and entrepreneurs – improving the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem in the process.

“Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice”

– Peter Drucker

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