Do You Have a Mentor?

Do You Have a Mentor?

I don’t have one, but sure wish I did.  Many times in my life, I’ve wanted a mentor – someone I could talk to about my career, life, key decisions, and all the stuff in life that can use the soothing wisdom that only rich life experience can provide.

Many people have played mentor-like roles in my life: my wife, friends and colleagues, and a few consultants.  Their perspectives have always been helpful, but the dynamics in many of those relationships have been more like sounding boards. I’ve never had a mentor in the true sense.

Maybe some of the reasons I never had an actual mentor are that I didn’t know where to look or how to find one, also I lacked the wisdom to really appreciate and understand the benefits.  It is clear to me now that I missed out, so I’ve decided to try a different tack.

Three untraditional strategies to finding a perfect mentor:

First, I am building my network of business people who have deep experience in various industries.  I ask them to evaluate my strategies and ideas and to offer their input on opportunities and roadblocks and what they see in the future.  It’s a funny thing – most are thrilled just to share their experiences and watch as I progress.  As one of the guys said to me today, “It is fun for me to grab you by the scruff of the neck, show you what to do, but you have to go do it.”

Second, I am embracing the openness and transparency that these types of relationships require.  It takes some practice but the quicker I have gotten “real” with my issues the better the conversations have become.

Third, I am processing the idea of building out an advisory board with a few of these key individuals.  There are other approaches like YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) and Vistage that can provide important support in similar ways, but the idea of a personal advisory board seems to make sense to me right now.

In time, I believe a few of these relationships could turn into mentorships, and that would be just fine with me.

Have you found a mentor that already existed in your own network?

John Christianson
  • Gini Dietrich
    Posted at 07:49h, 14 June

    John, as you know, I am a member of Vistage and agree it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and learn from. That being said, the most value I get from Vistage is from the speakers, not necessarily from the other members in my group. I’ve been thinking about how/if that is affecting my own company’s growth and like your idea of a personal advisory board.

    What I’m curious about is how you strucure that?

  • John Christianson
    Posted at 22:39h, 14 June

    Thanks for your comment. I am not totally sure right now. It is something that I am beginning to discuss with a few key people and will let you know how it turns out.

  • JJ
    Posted at 13:46h, 15 June

    I appreciate your post as I have been going through the same process of building a network and developing relationships with mentors. In general, I look for people in complementary, but not necessarily identical professional fields. Also finding people with markedly different life experiences, family history, and core skill sets is important. At the same time, I’ve found you want people that you can connect with and with whom you share basic personality and character traits like integrity among others. Thanks for the post, I’d love to learn more about your firm sometime.

    JJ Abodeely, CFA, CAIA

    • John Christianson
      Posted at 21:22h, 23 June

      Thanks for your comment. I welcome getting to know you. Give me a call at the office.

  • Heather
    Posted at 17:22h, 19 July

    This is a great post John and I have tried to address this lack of consistent mentorship in my life recently as well by asking a group of women to come together. It isn’t an advisory board or mentorship per se, but it is a small intergenerational group of women who have chosen to “do life together” for awhile.

    We meet once a month to speak into each other’s lives and discuss issues that we want to get other perspectives on – which range from handling situations in our marriages to social justice.

    We have found the time together to be very rich, we’re all growing, and I think we’d all say we’re being mentored by one another. And to make it happen, all I did was ask some amazing women I admire and want to be around – and they all said yes. It has been a huge blessing and I think we’re hoping it lasts for decades…

    Keep seeking!

    • John Christianson
      Posted at 12:49h, 21 July

      Thanks so much for your comment. Isn’t it amazing that all we have to do is ask, but in most cases we don’t. Fear or other issues tend to get in the way and then before I know it, years have gone by. Peer mentorship is a great angle that I hadn’t considered in this post, but is definately a valuable component and I love the way you are implementing it. Way to go.