Coffee With Marc Wesselink: Use(less) Mentors

Coffee With Marc Wesselink: Use(less) Mentors

15-Feb-2017 by Marc Wesselink

At Startupbootcamp we use a very extensive network of mentors and we love working with them. However, be careful with accepting just any advice from those mentors because they can also potentially damage your company. Let me give you a few tips about what is good and what not.

Opinion vs Expertise

‘A tomato is a fruit’, that’s a fact.

‘I like tomatoes’ is an opinion.

‘Never put a tomato in a fruit salad’ is an expertise.

Ask your mentors about their background and whether they have gone through similar experiences themselves. Be careful if their advice is just based on an opinion. A few startups I know eventually failed focusing on wrong advice from their mentors!

Experience vs Knowledge

When you choose different mentors, also aim for different skills. If you have 4 legal mentors, they will all tend to disagree on some points. If you choose 4 different sales mentors, they will all have a different approach. Choose your mentor based on different skills and make sure you personally ‘click’.

Deaf vs Blind

Communication is a profession! If you want a full engagement of your mentors, keep them in the loop. No news is much worse than bad news. Keep communicating with them, even when there is nothing new to tell.

Active vs Proactive

A relationship comes from both sides. If mentors do not respond to your updates, ask them if they are still interested in receiving those updates and why they are not responding to them. If you get a clear answer also provide for clarity back.

Paid vs Free

Nothing is free in this world and you can’t multiply if you are not able to share. If you want key mentors to become more engaged also make them a part of your success! You have many options like paid board positions, ghost shares and stock options. Or sometimes even a dinner once in awhile can already be enough.

via GIPHY

I always say that we are in the business of blowing balloons. Every mentor gives you a balloon – their color represents their advice and the size of the balloon their experience. After receiving 40 balloons, you have to look up and if you see the air filled with green balloons, green is probably the color to choose.

It is your responsibility to categorize these balloons in size and colors.

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Marc Wesselink is the Managing Director of the Startupbootcamp Smart City & Living program in Amsterdam.

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