Having a mentor in business is something which can help you learn more than you ever would in a classroom or on your own and for anyone with dreams of running their own company one day this is something which I would wholeheartedly recommend. My mentor was the brilliant Mark Gilbert ATN founder and CEO a man who has always been there to help me whenever I needed it. Mark first recruited me to work at ATN when I was 18 and during my college years, I stayed there one weekend and during the summer months. Mark was kind enough to take me under his wing and taught me just about everything I know about the world of business.
Having a mentor is not just about having a teacher, it is someone who both imparts knowledge and tests you, giving you the chance to shine, or perhaps even the chance to fail. Having a mentor allows you to learn quicker and get better, and it is something that is going to drastically help you in your business career, in the same way, that it has with mine. Now admittedly I didn’t choose Mark to be my mentor, it sort of happened organically, but having had this experience with him, I can tell you exactly what to look for when you are trying to find a mentor.
I most certainly consider Mark to be my friend now but it was not always like this and he used to be incredibly tough on me. It took me a while to realize that he was doing this in order to get the best out in me, but still, it was something that took me back at first. Your mentor may or may not become your friend but you shouldn’t be looking for someone to be your friend, you should be looking for someone who is going to push you to be the best that you can be.
It sounds slightly simplistic to say, but there are many out there who wish, or who try to become mentors to people when they have never really found any success of their own. There is a big difference between knowing something and actually having done it, which is why you should always aim to get a mentor who has actually found success in the world of business. With Mark, of course, I could clearly see that what he had built at ATN was very good, and down to his drive and his commitment. Seeing this meant that when Mark was teaching me things, I actively listened to him becasue I knew that this was coming from someone who had already completed his business goals.
The point I mentioned before about having someone who gives you the chance to fail or succeed is a really important one and this is what you should expect from a mentor. You must be given the freedom to make mistakes, this is really the only way that you learn. Now of your business mentor isn’t about to throw you into some negotiations with a new client, but they should certainly give you some responsibility when they feel that the time is right, to see just how well you may or may not get on. If you have a mentor who only wants to teach you things but is never prepared to allow you to put them into practice, then you are not going to learn anywhere near as much as you would like to.
Mentorship is about pushing you hard and making sure that you are prepared for the tough world of business. You shouldn’t have a mentor who is happy to accept anything from you that is not 110% and they should be on you at all times to stay driven and focused. To be honest, before working at ATN I was a little lacking in terms of drive and passion, and that was one of the first things which Mark addressed. In my business now I am very energetic and super passionate about what we are doing, and a lot of that came from how Mark showed me to act each and every day. This is why a great mentor should be able to push you hard so that you recognize just how driven you will have to be if you want to succeed in business, in any business.
Having a mentor is great but only if they are able to give you the right sort of tutelage. You should expect them to be tough on you, you should expect them to push and push until you become the right person who is going to survive in business, make sure that your mentor is doing that for you.