By: Vid Micevic, Guest Blogger and Co-Founder of 33 Buckets
According to TechCrunch, a startup company is three times more likely to succeed if it has a mentor. More importantly though, mentorship has a stronger correlation with company success than age, experience or background. Innately, I find myself drawn to connect with others—especially in the social entrepreneurship world. The community of social entrepreneurship is so collaborative and helpful to one another because we all have the same mission—to do good by being good. I feel a need to share my passions, have my thoughts heard, get feedback, gain other perspectives and listen to others so we can continue reaching our dreams for a better world.
Mentorship has been a key component to my growth as a social entrepreneur. Simply put, a mentor is somebody that guides you to your full potential by sharing his or her own previous experiences. Throughout college it was easy to find a mentor because professors were willing to listen and classmates shared similar struggles. The right mentor was insightful, thoughtful, and patient, while the mentee should be respectful, curious, and attentive.
With this expectation, I stepped out of the idyllic college atmosphere ready to take on the “real world” with a smile…the smile quickly vanished. I looked left. I looked right. No one seemed to care, consumed by their own agendas. Quickly I realized that I needed a mentor—a void I’ve struggled to fill since graduation. I reached out to countless people to simply grab coffee in my new urban jungle dubbed Washington, DC. The response rate to my invitations was poor, and the acceptance rate was even more dismal. I was feeling small in this great big world. Clearly my pursuit of the “traditional” mentor was failing, and I needed to try something else.
ARE THERE OTHER MENTORS OUT THERE?
As I was exploring alternative ways of meeting people from online group meetups to Couchsurfing, I clicked the refresh button on my e-mail. A new e-mail popped up with “On Leading Change—Acumen’s new interview podcast series” highlighted in bold. Intrigued, I clicked and learned that the podcasts focused on social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs finding innovative ways to tackle problems of poverty and social injustice in our own communities. More specifically, these podcasts take you behind the scenes and connect you directly with the social entrepreneurs, their stories, and lessons learned.
Wait…this is exactly what I want out of a mentor! I listened to the first podcast as Jo-Ann Tann, founder and director of Acumen, interviewed the founder of Be Girl, Diana Sierra. Jo-Ann asked many questions about how Diana used design thinking to reinvent access to menstrual hygiene products for low-income communities. And suddenly I realized that the questions Jo-Ann asked were exactly the same questions I would ask if I was getting coffee with Diana. This made me completely re-think my perception of mentor-mentee relationships. Did I have to be the one asking the questions? Can this relationship be virtual? Can I learn from people I have never met before?
WHAT DID I LEARN FROM THE PODCASTS?
I’ve listened to each podcast in the series so far. It’s safe to say my longing for a traditional mentor has diminished…but I still feel the longing for an in-person mentor. The podcasts generally have a similar outline where background questions are asked, the company story is told, major lessons learned are discussed, and future advice is shared for other aspiring entrepreneurs. The following chart provides a brief glimpse of golden insight learned from each of the podcasts in the series.
Every social entrepreneur interviewed offers different perspectives, experiences and thoughts. These pockets of insight are only small slivers of what can be learned. Every aspiring entrepreneur listening can be guided towards their full potential by these tidbits of information that are relevant to them and their own unique journey.
Is this a new revolution in how we should approach mentorship? No, not really. Podcasts provide an excellent transition in this stage of my life, but they are still lacking essential components of a traditional mentor. The following pros and cons chart compares how this podcast-mentee relationship compares to the traditional mentee-mentor relationship.
This is why at SEED SPOT, inclusive mentorship is one of the key pillars to our program. We believe that ALL people can be great leaders with the guidance of great mentors. We work to provide our ventures with a circle of trusted mentors who coach, audit, and accelerate their work. Every venture that comes through SEED SPOT is matched with mentors who can leverage their experience to launch their dreams. About 72% of mentor relationships have continued beyond the program track at SEED SPOT, demonstrating how finding the right mentor can be crucial in creating lasting professional relationships and even blossoming friendships.
Find the right mentorship that fits your needs. Never stop learning. Never stop growing.
Start your entrepreneurial journey today.
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