“We put people up on pedestals before we really know them and it can be the wrong person. But just having the intention, or the want or the desire of having mentors in your life typically creates the vacuum for those people to show up. And you never know where they come from” – Todd Herman
Mentorships are often thought of as highly-formalized, stiffly-structured, and even quasi-contractual relationships. The mentee is usually imagined as a young person who approaches an older, wiser, and more successful professional in desperate need of advice and guidance. The mentor, or course, is imagined to give it altruistically, without receiving any benefits in return.
Now, I have learned so many things from Todd Herman during the many years that I have known him, from performance enhancing hacks and success habits to marketing my personal brand. But when it comes to mentorship, he owns some serious real estate in my mind. His digital book, The Definitive Guide on Finding & Becoming a Mentor is, in my humble opinion, one of the most valuable and underrated pieces of literature on the topic to date. Which is why I was so eager to interview Todd for the podcast.
He’s a dear friend and someone who I consider to be one of my own mentors. Not only has he himself had the privilege of being mentored by some of the top business philosophers of our time (like Jim Rohn), but he has mentored countless others along the way.
Through decades of being on both sides of mentorship, Todd has developed expert insider knowledge on the subject.
- Be Clear About Goals and Outcomes
It might seem self-evident, but it’s really not. The first step towards finding the right mentor is to have a clearly establish set of goals or outcomes that you’re looking for guidance around. I can’t tell you how often people jump the gun without really know why they’re seeking out mentorship in the first place.
For example, I am often approached by folks who are looking for an introduction to a potential mentor, and when I get this request I always ask one simple question: What’s your desired outcome for the introduction? And I lose 90% of people at that point. They simply don’t respond because they didn’t have a clear ask.
So if you’re looking for a mentor, the first step you need to take is to do the work up front before approaching anyone. Find those areas of your life or career where you’re an amateur and identify the things you want to improve upon, goals that you’ve set that you’re looking for support with or advice on how to achieve and then start to consider who’s expert insight you might benefit from.
- Find The Expert
Now that you have clarity around the goals and outcomes you’re looking to achieve, do your research and find out who the experts are in that area. And aim high. One of the biggest myths is that experts and VIPs in any given area are unreachable, and that isn’t true. The important thing is to reach out to them and show them two things: that you’ve done your homework and that you’re willing to actually follow through on their advice.
- Be Specific
But, you still need to have a specific ask when reaching out to someone. Avoid saying things like like “I’d love to connect with you and learn from you.” It’s vague and puts pressure on them to lead the relationship.
Instead, make the mentor’s job easy. Have a clear goal in mind of where you want to be, and then ask for 2-3 suggestions that they have to help you reach your goals.
- Be hungry
The “wannabe” mentees reach out for guidance, but they aren’t the types to take action. They’re looking for some sort of cure-all advice, but aren’t willing to put in any work. “Wannabe” mentees may even expect the mentor to do some of the work for them. Don’t be this type of mentee.
The “hungry” mentee takes action immediately. They are goal-oriented and willing to do what it takes to reach those goals. A mentor loves this type of mentee because the mentor knows that the time that they’re putting into the relationship is worth it.
- Surprise and Delight
What works in the military works in marketing and that’s the art of surprise. Be very mindful about how you initially reach out. You get a sense of someone’s intentions, if they truly believe it and just need help, you can tell. As they say, your vibe attracts your tribe. Sometimes, an email just won’t cut it.
Todd has been a huge fan of direct mail ever since one of his own mentors challenged him to write actual letters to people he really wanted to connect with. And you know what? He always gets a response and people always say how much they appreciate such an unexpected letter
- Don’t put your mentor on a pedestal
Jim said something like “If you put me on a pedestal, you’ll end up disappointed or hurt. I’m not perfect and when I fail or mess up, you’ll be questioning all the advice I gave to you in the past, wondering if it was legitimate. Take my advice for what it is, not as an absolute truth.”
- Have More than One
This is a big mistake that I initially made when looking for a mentor. I has looking for the full package, I was looking for this all-encompassing person – someone who was an incredible entrepreneur, a great parent, totally healthy, and financially well-off… If that’s what you’re also looking for in a mentor, I can assure you that you probably won’t find it.
Instead, you may have multiple mentors that are each an expert in a different field. You may go to Mentor #1 for writing, Mentor #2 for exercising, and Mentor #3 for online business advice.
- You’re never too old
You’re never too old, seasoned, or successful to have a mentor.
For more of Todd’s advice and insights on mentorship, do no miss this episode of Community Made…