Mentoring: What I have learnt from my mentor

- January 30, 2008 2 MIN READ

Humans are sponges for information and advice, which is what makes mentoring so valuable. A mentor helps us clarify our goals and urges us to follow paths we would not have taken without their encouragement.

I went on holiday with my mentor to the Huntington Estate Music Festival. He is a mentor to many people and quite a few of his mentorees were there.

I call my mentor Grandpa or when sending an SMS, g’pa. His other mentorees call him Ken.

He is 93, a lawyer by trade and a passionate supporter of the arts community. As a lawyer, he was a small businessman and created change through his passion for the arts as well as the law. This evidence that change from one person is possible was inspiring when I started out on my own soloist adventure.

Here are some of the lessons I have learnt from his mentoring:

Lesson 1: Keep up with trends

Despite his age, he still reads actively and keeps up with trends. Recently he asked me what a Blackberry was, so I explained its functions and that it is nicknamed Crackberry because people who own them seem to find them addictive. I also told him about Facebook and explained it was similiarly addictive. He was very interested when I explained how the groups on Facebook are an indicator of trends and how useful this is to researchers or any business person.

Lesson 2: Understand where new trends came from

A few years ago he wanted to understand the term ‘networking.’ I explained how it is getting to know people and forming relationships, differentiated from selling. This is the standard networking definition. I then explained how a proliferation of networking organisations have emerged. “It is like an expansion of the old boy’s network.” I explained.

He looked puzzled and said “But that’s just good business practice. I don’t like how these things need to be given a name, it just should be done.” It was an interesting insight: seemingly new trends may just be new terms for an old way of doing things.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business networking section.

Lesson 3: Generate good will

Another path definer for me was the importance of generating good will. Whenever we speak he always asks two questions:

  • How is business?
  • Have you generated any good will recently?

He taught me “Choose to generate good will in the areas you’re passionate about – the causes you want to see prosper not just for yourself, but for others to share and benefit from. That builds the reputation of who you are and what you stand for.” My response is: “That it is your personal brand”.

“That would be the modern term for it,” he replied.

Lesson 4: Use the diversity of your interests

Using resources from one interest can enable you to further another. Grandpa’s interest in the law meant he could earn a good income from his trade. The fact it was in property law meant that he made wise investments. The fact he understood law and was passionate about the arts meant that he could help his passion progress.

Lesson 5: Invest in your health

My mentor has lived a healthy life, so he can still be active at 93. He encourages me to recognise that some enjoyments shorten your life while others extend it. In that light, you need to ask “Which of my enjoyments are worth keeping?!”

Do you enjoy a relationship with a mentor? What are your reflections of their advice? Share your mentoring learnings with fellow soloists via a comment.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"