Written by Janice Omadeke, CEO of The Mentor Method (Techstars Austin 2022)
In the first month of the accelerator’s intensive three-month program, the ten companies are paced through a gauntlet of mentoring challenges, meeting as many as 100 potential mentors from the Techstars network to lock arms with them during the program’s course. This frenzy of activity, known colloquially as “mentor madness,” is an essential part of the Techstars experience.
Research shows that an astonishing 70% of mentored businesses reach their five-year survival milestone. Not only does this demonstrate why Techstars includes a robust mentoring program as a pillar of their accelerator strategy, but it underlines why we at The Mentor Method have made it our mission to bring the power of mentorship to organizations everywhere.
In fact, 93% of startup leaders agree that mentorship is instrumental to success and essential to the employee experience. Despite this, not all entrepreneurs pursue mentors. Consultants are often prohibitively expensive, with the best ranging in cost from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, putting this level of professional mentorship out of reach for most entrepreneurs.
As part of our mentor madness experience, we were granted access to some of the most incredible entrepreneurs in Austin. Given my company’s focus on building inclusive, meaningful connections for employees at work, I took this opportunity to practice some of the best practices we share with our customers who undergo this process with their teams.
Why? Mostly, because we have a responsibility to live what we preach to others and make good on the promises we make to our customers, such as Amazon, Lincoln Financial Group, and the US Department of Education to name a few, that our methods are best in class. But in order to prove this, we have a mandate to ascribe a monetary value to our practices and irrefutably prove that business leaders can expect a reasonable ROI. Did we accomplish this? In spades.
In sum, over the course of the two-week mentor madness period, the total savings and value afforded to my company was in the ballpark of $200k. By using the principles and values used in The Mentor Method’s online mentoring platform, I was able to maximize this opportunity for myself, my company, and our customers.
Here’s how we did it and how you can steal the same approach to use for your business or yourself:
We were prepared with questions that focused on gaps within our business. It’s essential to have a thorough inventory of where your business can use help so you know what to ask for directly. Enter the conversation prepared to ask for and receive tough feedback. Some of it may be challenging to hear, but to maximize your value, listen first and process later.
Find folks who are willing to roll up their sleeves with you from a variety of backgrounds. Our advisers were ready to get real with us, sharing their stories, challenges they faced at a similar stage of growth, and personal reflections.
We trusted the process and the program to connect us to the right people.Finding the right person in any room can often be the biggest challenge when seeking mentorship opportunities. Within a program like Techstars or The Mentor Method, it’s essential to trust the process and go with the flow.
The Mentor Method’s methodology was tried, tested, and practiced during our own mentorship experience. Here are a few of the tactics from our own program that we made sure to implement during mentor madness that we encourage you to adopt when seeking a mentor:
Practice self awareness and understand your goals. The lens through which you are evaluating yourself changes with every role you have. If you’re seeking a personal mentor, practice personal self awareness. If, like us, you’re seeking a mentor for your company, get to know your company—and your goals— in the same way. Establishing goals for your personal growth, company growth, and professional development are all great places to start.
Remain coachable and flexible. The best advice in the world is useless to someone unwilling to change. To have a successful mentor relationship, however, it’s essential to be open to feedback and willing to change. Be unafraid to pivot, duck, and weave.
Follow up with mentors to set up agendas for follow-on meetings. Effective mentorships are built upon relationships. For the relationship to flourish, however, you have to keep talking, debating, being vulnerable, and building your connection over time. Keep the conversation going in order to chase down your goals.
The Mentor Method is exceptionally fortunate to be taking part in a program where organizers are so passionate about entrepreneurship and growth to grant us opportunities like mentor madness. Special thanks to Techstars for the focus on mentorship, the incredible value, and the access to such fantastic mentors.
If you’re looking to implement a mentor program at your company, drop a line. We’d love to chat.