founder-award

A humbling reminder about the role of a mentor

It was exciting for sure – being announced as the top rated mentor in the eastern US for Founder Institute at the Founder Showcase in Mountain View, CA.

On my flight back from San Francisco that night I was struck with the reality (and weight) of what it really means to be a mentor to these upstart ventures and an advisor to growing companies.

Only mentors and advisors understand the joy and pressure of playing this role. On one hand you get to be a “know it all” telling someone else what to do. Who doesn’t love that?!

On the other hand, you’re giving advice and guidance that could have a significant impact on an entrepreneur’s decision/direction – and thereby the success/failure of their venture and potentially millions of dollars of economic impact created (or not realized).

That’s a massive responsibility when you really think about it. And it should never be taken lightly. When we screen and onboard new advisors into our certified partner program, the #1 thing we look for in someone is a heart for service. We look for people who genuinely and authentically want to serve the entrepreneur first – make money second.

I’ll be first to admit that in the past I’ve mentored or advised with an ulterior motive – to make money. It was all about me – and how I could benefit. The results I got as an advisor/mentor were very average. Sure, businesses still grew – but they didn’t have hockey-stick growth. Of course the client was still “satisfied” but they weren’t fanatical.

If you’re an advisor, consultant or coach, I just want to encourage you to focus on impact and results rather than income. That may be hard to do when you’re just getting started – or struggling to pay the bills. But that is the best time to build this culture into your practice. Anyone can become missional when they are rich. That’s easy.

What’s hard (and infinitely more authentic) is to be missional when you’re starving. Trust me when I say, your prospects will turn into customers when they see that. You’ll be better equipped to serve your customers. You’ll grow the broad shoulders on which clients will be able to lean when they need it most.

The role of an advisor/mentor is hard work. It carries mind-bending responsibility. It should not be looked at as an easy path to lifestyle-friendly income. It is an opportunity to impact lives and change the world in the process. It is often hard work with no pay or short-term return. But in the long-term, there is absolutely nothing else like it! I was certainly reminded of that this week.

I’m thankful to the founders participating in Founder Institute for trusting me in serving them – and for the reminder of why the role of a mentor is mission critical work.