I’d like to introduce you to one of my mentors, Brendon Burchard. In this picture from the eWomen Network Conference I attended a few weeks back, I’m sitting within spitting distance of the man, in case you don’t know him, who is the nation’s leading authority on high performance. He is the creator of several multi-million dollar professional and personal development brands like Experts Academy and Partnership Seminar as well as the New York Times bestselling author of The Millionaire Messenger and The Charge. He is one of the most masterful public speakers I’ve ever experienced. Although I’m a slammin’ storyteller, give oodles of actionable content, and know how to deliver an offer with love, this guy… a total rockstar! And he’s just a few years older than me. Which is why this Millennial knows she must be a sponge and soak up all of Brendon’s genius whenever she can access it.
Millennials are the most entrepreneurial generation in American history. Not only have 50 percent of us started a business (or hope to), but our rate of entrepreneurship is 10 percent higher than it is in the general population. A 2011 survey by Buzz Marketing Group and the Young Entrepreneur Council also found that 35 percent of recent college graduates started a side business. My generation is as keen as ever on the idea of working with a mentor — whether we already have our own business, work a side hustle, want to start a business, or simply want to bring an intrapreneurial approach to our companies. According to the 14th Annual Global CEO Survey by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 98 percent of Millennials see a mentor as integral to career development. But the look and feel of the mentoring relationship needs to evolve to support these new realities — not only for us, but for all leaders, professionals and business owners who want to create and sustain success in the 21st century business environment.
It’s vital that we drop some antiquated ways of viewing the mentor and mentee relationship. Mentors do NOT simply exist to help mentees climb a linear career ladder. Mentorship is NOT solely for early-mid career professionals, but rather it’s a necessity for any employee, leader, or business owner seeking to be a masterful performer. While we can (and should) find mentors to support our growth in various areas, I think there are 4 chief areas or skills that all emerging through senior leaders should address through mentorship. They include: building mutually beneficial relationships, using high-impact and audience-centered communication, empowering peak performance in one’s self and one’s team, and being adaptable and resilient to organizational change.
Whether you are on the lookout for a mentor or want to strengthen a relationship with an existing one, here are some tips for ensuring success.
Raise your voice when selecting a mentor. As a mentee who desires skill development, scout for mentors who already possess those skills and who also have the right personality and coaching style for that professional development to stick. Co-create the mentoring relationship to ensure that both parties are engaged for complementary reasons, are clear on expectations and accountability, and have the ability to renegotiate the look, feel and terms of the relationship periodically, in order to keep it mutually beneficial.
Consider having more than one mentor. So let me be honest. Brendon Burchard and I are not on speed dial with one another. Not even close. While I will continue to see him speak live and pick his brain whenever I do, devour his training, and read his books, he by no means is supporting my daily learning and growth. Which is okay because he is one of several mentors.
One of the benefits of a mentorship is developing relationships with a variety of people in the different areas you are looking to strengthen, in my case public speaking, negotiation and persuasion, but this can also be in different life spheres. For example, if work-life integration or spirituality are key growth areas for you, you better have mentors specific to these areas. You want to have at least one, ideally several, of your mentors be champions for you. They should be in a position to introduce you to people and opportunities you might not otherwise have access to. For women and minorities who often feel left out of prestigious formal and informal industry networks, and also experience barriers to accessing venture capital, having multiple mentors who believe in you can help exponentially build a network with power players across industries and sectors.
Look beyond your current company’s and industry’s walls. While some folks fantasize about one day occupying the C-Suite in their current digs, most employees are realistic enough to know that they need to consistently keep their heads on a swivel so that they can land feet-first in a new position, if and when they want or need to. It’s vital to choose mentors who don’t have a stake in you staying in your current role — a cheerleader without an agenda. Then, a mentor can help facilitate your movement in and out of entrepreneurship or a particular industry, as you desire.
Get ready to give back. Most masterful mentors aren’t sitting around waiting for emerging talent to ask them to be mentors. They are usually knee deep in a variety of professional and community-based work. In addition to having a compelling reason why a prospective mentor should invest time, energy and resources in your development, endear yourself to future mentors by asking how you can aid them: be it building online communities or spearheading sustainability initiatives. Buff up the necessary muscles to be an effective leader in your current and future roles by supporting the people who are supporting you in their work and passion projects.