Tweet This “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”
A statement by Sir Isaac Newton which states clearly that the degree of personal success is directly linked to having renowned mentors in your life.
Intervision with colleagues or good inspiring conversations during celebrations, parties should not be underestimated. But at a certain moment you come to the point that you want to ask your question to someone who can say; “Been there, done that, and I have the T-shirt.” Someone who can really mentor you to take the next step in your career or life path.
Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs, Bill Gates learned a lot from Warren Buffet and Richard Branson got advice from the British airline entrepreneur Sir Freddie Laker.
One by one men who had the urge to grow up to the level of their “heroes”.
In addition to all of my esteemed colleagues, I also may now call myself blessed with a list of proven successful mentors who I can consult with my questions, including:
- Clayton Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of a number of business bestsellers and father of the “The job to be done” ideas.
- Patrick van de Pijl, CEO & Strategy Designer at Business Models Inc. Producer of the worldwide bestseller Business Model Generation.
- Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Group.
- Pacelle van Goethem, researcher, speaker, coach and author of a Dutch bestseller “IJs verkopen aan Eskimo’s.” (Selling Icecream to Eskimo’s)
- Brian Tracy, author and top authority in the field of personal and professional development.
- John C. Maxwell, author of bestsellers and top speaker in the areas of leadership.
- Willem Middelkoop, Dutch journalist and one of the most famous Dutch investors, particularly precious metals.
- Mike Maloney, CEO and founder of GoldSilver.com. Investor in precious metals and producer of Internet Success series “Hidden Secrets of Money”.
- Halbe Zijlstra, Chairman of the VVD (Dutch political party) and my former colleague at one of my previous assignments.
How did I manage to get this group of people to be my mentors? The secret lies in how you define the word “mentor and mentored” and the sentence; “Coached by a mentor”. Look, half the crew I mentioned has no idea who I am. However, that does not mean I just call them my mentor because I’ve read their books. At a certain moment in time, there has definitely been some personal contact with them. And.., they have given me the answers to the specific questions I had at that moment. Most people are convinced that the completion of “being a mentor” must be conducted in a prescribed manner.
They think that as long as you’re not good friends and have regular meetings than you cannot call it a mentor relationship. I myself had that conviction too, but at some point, I came to realise that to satisfy my need for information I needed to level with the truly successful people in society. Those who are simply too busy for frequent one-on-one appointments.
My goal is not to be “BFF” (Best Friends Forever), but to get understanding and help with specific questions on a particular topic.
It is up to me to get the answers in an innovative way. Here are 6 ways to get help and receive the desired answers from “your mentors.”
6 ways to be mentored by anyone
The direct approach
You will be amazed by the result if you simply ask your question directly to a person. One focused search on the Internet often yields positive results when it comes to finding personal contact from people who you would like to get in touch with. If you still fail to find someone’s personal contact details, there often will be a “contact us” option at the bottom of the websites of their businesses.
Using this method I sent specific questions I had regarding the current monetary system to Mike Maloney and Willem Middelkoop. Shortly thereafter I received from both a comprehensive answer as a reply to my e-mail. The word “mentor” is never used. There are no meetings scheduled, and no one will ever think: “Oh, Marco van der Linden, I’m his mentor.” At most, they’ll know me as the person who is occasionally asking some very specific questions that can be answered in a few minutes.
In any way. A person who is standing in the spotlight is dependent on the public opinion and how people see them. You can write an article/blog regarding a relevant topic and address your question directly to your potential mentor. Following, you can use Twitter to attract their attention on the fact that the question is asked. Often this way of working not only provides you with a quick response from this particular person. It also gives you often an increased response rate from other readers.
The Twitter conversation
Another option is to get your advice or opinion when you do not want to write a whole article or blog and to enter into a Twitter conversation. I already succeeded several times to get in touch with several of my mentors by simply responding to a tweet.
It’s up to you then to understand the art to steer towards the specific question you want to ask during this Twitter conversation. Remember you have a very short time period. It will not be an endless conversation and you have to be prepared to act fast.
Purpose: Catch the attention and hold it until you have the desired result.
Visit exhibitions, seminars or trainings where your target mentors will speak
Personally, I’m not one of those rushing as a “groupie” to the speakers as soon as they abandon the stage. But in general, they do not leave immediately. If I really have set my mind to ask a specific question then there is always a possibility to enter into a short conversation and get the answers I want.
Maintain your network
In general, every person on the planet has the desire to develop and work on their career. People with whom you work now (and especially in consultancy) may reach some interesting positions in society a few years later. This way of collecting mentors is one for the long term.
During one of my first consulting projects I was directly working together with Halbe Zijlstra, currently, he is the fraction leader of the biggest governmental party here in the Netherlands. Always remember and honour where you come from and maintain the relations you build during your career and within your network.
The invisible counsellor
This way of mentoring may sound strange and alien to the ears. Regarding my case, it has nothing to do with the aforementioned list of names.
In my opinion, this is one of the most powerful ways to be mentored and bring you instant answers. My introduction to this way of mentoring was when I read the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.
Hill had established a board of successful people of his time. Every evening he held an imaginary council meeting with these people.
A daily meeting I think is too much but at set times it is fine to use this method.
The answers I get from the members of my own imaginary advisory board are based on the information I get from reading their books. Also watching YouTube videos and extract information from other social media will help. The more I study them, the more I feel comfortable with the advice that I get from the imaginary council meetings.
6 ways to be mentored by anyone – Conclusion
A formal mentor relationship with someone is invaluable. But never let the standard definition of a mentoring relationship become a limit to get advice from your seemingly unreachable heroes. You can be mentored by anyone.
By: Marco van der Linden