This question originally appeared on Quora: I am an inexperienced entrepreneur. What can I offer to a mentor who has everything?
Passion, Commitment, and Equity.
I have had many mentors for my previous startups and have also advised startups.
3 Main Motives for the Mentors
- A burning desire to pass it on: Many successful people have a natural desire to groom the next generation and pass on the benefits they acquired. While I was a college student, I had an 80 year old mentor who had built big businesses. He had all the riches, but he was extremely committed to grooming the next line of entrepreneurs. He would spend a chunk of his precious time trying to push me up. Over the years, I have had the advice of plenty of such awesome people. The younger you are, the lesser expectations are. They just expect raw energy.
- A desire to be in the loop: Successful people are naturally curious. They want to be in the next big thing. I had an investor who rued how badly he missed Google when the founders came to him. More than the money, it really hurt his pride that he missed it. They want to be a part of new ideas. Although it is sometimes an overused cliche, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is something young entrepreneurs can subtly play.
- The promise of riches: Although not as strong a motive, equity is often a good thing. More than the money, it is the idea of being the part of the founding team. That gets them the bragging rights in their elite circle. "You know the guys I mentored last year? They are now in Wall Street Journal". You can give a small part of the company equity [0.5%--2%].
Of course, successful mentors are quite busy and plenty of people trying to get groomed.. As an entrepreneur, you need to make sure you can give 3 things to align with the motives.
3 Key Things Mentee should offer
- Passion & Raw energy: This is what many mentors don't really have. There is something about this that makes people naturally attracted. Think of watching a movie where a poor hero is doing everything he can to succeed. Would you want to be a part of his success story? The same thing works in real world. If you show that passion and energy, people will want to help you without often expecting anything in return.
- Commitment: If you are not committed and vested in your idea, no one else will be. Be so super committed to your company's success that your mentors start appreciating that. They will see their past in you and they will start seeing your future.
- Graceful in sharing your success: When you succeed, always be graceful and remember the ladders that brought you there. As you start celebrating your company's smaller successes and the people who brought you that [including the mentors], people will have a burning itch to help you.
3 Key Ways to Find Good Mentors
- Hang out at places smart people go to: Find out the right hackathons, conferences and events that smart people in your industry go to. Prepare hard and explain your concepts to everyone you meet there. You never know who could connect you there.
- Be passionate, likable, and humble: There is nothing worse than a cocky young man who has nothing to show. And as we build more things of worth, our humility should grow. The right level of humility attracts people who would want to mentor you. "Be Likable". You are not going to get your guru that easy. Keep pushing harder and be really, really hungry.
- Show, don't tell: There is a fundamental rule in fiction--not to tell, but show. The same works here. Don't talk too much about what you are going to do. It would be awesome, if you can show what you are doing and the steps you have taken.
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