6 hacks for engineering a mentorship experience without needing an actual mentor. Welcome to mentor hacking.
I dislike the word mentor.
Maybe it’s bc I’ve been rejected by potential mentor suitors in the past.
Not to call out anyone . . . Warren Buffett.
It’s a loaded word.
But, at its core, the benefit of a mentor is getting advice to help navigate your career or life. And maybe the occasional ‘attaboy.
That doesn’t have to be a person 11 years your senior that swipes right on your mentor request.
There are other ways to get guidance.
Actually, here are ways to get better advice (and faster) than having a mentor
I call it Mentor Hacking.
1. Content Stalking
If I stumble upon someone that has achieved a level of success or knowledge that I’m going after then I immediately start the process of devouring their content. I do the following:
- Subscribe to their blog newsletter
- Buy their book on Audible and Blinkist (if they have one)
- Search for any recent podcast interviews they did
- Follow them on Twitter to get a feel for where their head is at
These acts alone can accelerate how much you learn from someone and start to understand their approach to business.
2. Mentor Call Girls
Yup, it’s true. I pay people to talk to me. Some of these people are individuals I’ve never met and some are good friends. Why pay friends? If you just email someone and say, hey can I talk to you for an hour and get advice then you’ll be lumped into a line of people wanting the same thing. If you say the following then you might get their attention:
Hey can I pay you $150 for 45 minutes of your time to talk about problem x, y and z. What’s your Venmo and I’ll pay you right now and I can work around your calendar. Let me know.
You get their attention and show that you mean business when you give the talking points. If you know what you want to learn then 45 min is more than enough time. Plus, it’s easy money for them and they come into the meeting wanting to help.
3. Three Levels of Reading
For books with great advice or insights, I find that I need to read them (or “engage” with them) multiples times for the content to stick. I do three levels of reading:
- Blinkist skim: I get the book summary (via Blinkist) in 15 minutes to learn the core principles and decide if I want to read the entire book.
- AudioBook: This is great for getting the details of the book when I don’t have the time to actually sit down and read. (This Dad / Founder thing can zap your schedule.)
- Paperback: If I really like a book then I get the paperback version to toss on my shelf. It’s nice to thumb through it and to have as a reminder to read it again.
4. A Phantom Board
In my last post What to Do When You Don’t Have the Answers, I mentioned my Phantom board. It’s a group of people I speak with on a regular basis to get advice. From my executive coach to another bootstrapped founder, having quarterly meetings is great for getting insights and holding yourself accountable on your actions.
5. Cold Emails
Some of my best opportunities and advice have come from a very thoughtful cold email.
Mark Cuban. Techstars CEO. My business partner. My wife.
Yup, all are people I have engaged with (or married) via cold outreach. Don’t under estimate the impact of a genuine cold email. You’ll be surprised at who responds.
For the record, my wife cold outreach was via Facebook circa 2010.
6. Professional Communities
By the way, some of the best advice I have received is from people in different industries and people that are younger. Whether it’s an industry Slack channel or an executive coaching group, be okay with sharing notes and helping each other out. There are people going through the same thing you are.
Summary of Mentor Hacking
Hope this helps anyone else that’s looking for guidance and doesn’t have an official “mentor” in their life. You don’t need one. Here is a quick round up of Mentor Hacking.
- Content Stalking
- Mentor Call Girls
- Three Levels of Reading
- A Phantom Board
- Cold Emails
- Professional Communities