What I’ve learned from having 50+ mentors to date

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I’m a 19-year old venture developer with 7 years of experience in building ventures. I met my first business mentor at 12 years old. When I met him, he owns a BPO company, a fitness facility, and a convenience store–now, I’m his business partner.

I have developed 100+ ventures over 19 industries, across 15 countries. Generating more than $1B+ figures for ventures to date, I have also worked with Fortune 500 companies and engaged with FAANG ventures. But the only reason why I was able to accomplish what I have accomplished at 19 is due to the learning environment I was immersed in since day 1. Surrounded by mentor educators–people who facilitate education (n.b., the difference between a teacher and an educator, a teacher being only a job title)–years and decades of learning compressed unto me.

For if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. –Isaac Newton

Mentors are the shortcut to success.

True, there is no shortcut to success. Overnight success takes years to build. But the closest thing to a shortcut is having a mentor. Think of all the years of experimentation in methods, learning, and experience, and how that can be compressed into the months/years of mentorship that you’ll be provided.

We think of mentorships as shortcuts to success because you easily skip the “R&D” and A/B Testing of the job, because the mentor will already tell you what has worked for them, what doesn’t. What you would usually take decades to learn or realize, the mentor can compress to you in key learnings within weeks and months, which is why new mentorship relationships almost always lead to immediate hyper-growth within 1 to 3 months.

When entering a new form of mentorship, be sure to pose questions, ask what has worked from their experience, ask what the standard is in their niche. All inquiries should point out to experience because that’s the pivotal contribution of a mentorship–practice, not theory.

Don’t say yes to all mentorships.

When you “employ” a mentor, you’re looking to do at least three things: 1.) build a relationship, 2.) build competence, and 3.) build a network. Needless to say, you always have to evaluate the value and the faith of the relationship. You don’t want to work with a mentor who operates in bad faith. Chances are, they’ll brainrape (i.e., mine and steal your ideas) you.

The same goes for mentors who are infamous for their work. Think of the mentee branding as an affiliation that will stick–forever. Especially when you’re at the top of your niche/industry–where everyone knows everyone–nobody will touch you or any of your businesses with a 10-foot pole if you have that stench of bad faith.

The ideal mentor is this: a.) a mentor of experience, b.) a mentor of known competence and reputation, and c.) a mentor known to operate in good faith (i.e., the most important part). In terms of their skill, well, it doesn’t really matter. As long as they have years of practice, they “qualify.” Especially since business skills are transferable from one industry to another.

But if you want to go more ideal, find mentors in the ecosystem of your niche. Or at least, in the fishbone of your niche. If you’re a videographer, you can be mentored by a content director, cinematographer, creative director, or other niches that are usable in your line of work. The idea is always to build your competency, and be able to see how work is done in different relevant perspectives.

The ability to see how work is done in two perspectives would allow you to see more, and in turn, think deeper. This flexibility would also allow you to nail grander and grander projects.

You can have multiple mentors at once.

If you love doing many things at once, chances are, you can enter multiple facets of your career and wear many hats. This has been the case for me, and in each hat, I meet a mentor hat. Basically, for every industry I’m in, I have a corresponding mentor. This has allowed me to accelerate learning and develop that experience gut-feel about people.

Since fundamentals of soft skills and hard skills are transferable and applicable across other industries, it helps to have multiple mentors at once. These “mentor cards” also become valuable when you’re facing a business or personal dilemma that requires you to see multiple perspectives.

Each mentor will see a different light and will have a different insight from the other. This is where their personalities and competence come in. If your dilemma is regarding business, you can consult all your business-savvy mentors. Weigh out the pros and cons for each mentor insight, choose which are true, and see the facts as they are (n.b., there are mentors that can jab biased opinions, so look out for that). On the other hand, if your dilemma/problem is on the facet of a personal relationship, you only consult the mentors who have tight and healthy relationships.

As you may already know, most business titans have “noisy success.” So, think. Would you accept the “advice” of a mentor who cannot maintain personal and familial relationships? This brings me to my next point.

Mentors aren’t always right.

Take the advice of mentors with grains of salt. Although that decade of experience is compressed to you, those are things of the past–i.e., that experience may not be relevant anymore. Make sure that you investigate the replicability, validity, reliability, and relevance of the techniques being taught to you.

Some mentors have tried manipulating my learning curve so I become a de facto version of themselves. You have to continuously feel this, and see the learning competency that is being installed to you. If you want to be like them, no worries. But if they’re forcing you to be like them, then there’s a problem.

That being said, you have to understand that mentors aren’t always right. There are circumstances where the mentor cannot see and therefore weigh all the variables in the problem that you’re consulting, or they may not just have the time to diagnose the right solution for you. There are multiple reasons, but the outlier is almost always relevant. Sometimes, the insights become outmoded, which is why you should always try the method out for yourself before “mentoring other people.”

In summary, although the mentor is the key to hyper-growth, you should always develop your “original” way of thinking. Simply mine the best-of-the-best traits, methods, and values of your mentors. In fact, anyone can be a “mentor” to you, and they don’t even have to know that you see them as a mentor.

This is the CEO learning hat that makes facilitators different. When you treat everyone you interact with as mentors–people who you can learn something from–building authentic relationships become easier. Most of all, you learn to see everything in the bigger picture, you get to see more perspectives which steps you one step closer to the truth.

After all, we are all just copies of a copy of a copy of a copy. What’s important is you listen to who you are, and you do what you authentically what you want to do. Mentors are just there to help you see colors you cannot see, corners you haven’t discovered. Above all, you must strive to become original–in the sense that you follow the path that you want to follow.