Our August Swerve Meetup was all about mentorship. We had a panel discussion to start a conversation around the importance of having a mentor and how to maintain a good mentor-mentee relationship.
We invited Bruce Maxwell, Ray Mitchell, and Chris Wilson as panelists to share their experience as mentors and mentees. Shelby Newsome, CCE Marketing and Events Coordinator, led the discussion asking questions around the panelist’s mentoring experience.
Bruce Maxwell is a fractional CFO, specializing in startups. He has an expertise in venture capital, helps startups with their go-to-market strategy, and is an entrepreneur himself. Bruce has also been a mentor for CCE’s creative accelerator.
Ray Mitchell is the owner of Made for You Media, which focuses on meeting the unique marketing needs of small businesses and non-profit organizations. He also serves as a Mentor at the Small Business Center at Forsyth Technical Community College.
Chris Wilson is the founder and owner of Mogul, which is a streetwear clothing line based in Winston-Salem that he started in 2017. Mogul’s unique purpose is to donate at least 10% of every purchase to local and national Mental Health programs, organizations, and non-profits.
All three of panelists are members of Swerve and Bruce has served as a mentor for our creative accelerator.
“A good mentor is supportive and not driving the bus” – Bruce Maxwell
The biggest piece of advice our panelists provided for mentors is that you have to be an active listener. In being an active listener, you have to listen for the questions that are not being asked so you can answer them. Another theme rose to the top – mentors should not ask the mentee to do something that they would not do themselves.
The nuggets of advice given to mentees were rich and enlightening. Panelists touched on several areas relating to time, strategies for finding mentors, the best way to thank mentors, formal and informal relationships, and how to know when a mentor is toxic. Here are some highlights:
- Seek formal and informal mentor relationships
- There are two strategies for finding and picking a mentor:
- Find an older version of you so your mentor better understands you and how you think
- Find a mentor that is completely unlike you because they’ll see the world differently and have a different perspective
- Don’t waste your mentor’s time – the best way to thank a mentor is to execute on what you have learned
- You are asking for help; put in the work
- Ask for permission to have a more formal and time-consuming relationship with a mentor; ask formally and ask what they would like in return
- Be careful when looking for mentors and watch for toxic mentors who:
- want to be entrepreneurs but do not have the determination to get it done, and
- will want to drive YOUR bus
- Stay professional and be appreciative
“Know why you want to be mentored and why you want that mentor.” – Ray Mitchell
Tidbits of information that could be taken by both mentors and mentees are:
- Mentorship is a two-party process; both need to be willing to give in the relationship
- Mentees are just as gifted as the mentor
- Both parties should be clear and conscious about their expectations
- Mentors aren’t the boss; they’re there to assess and provide opinions, not commands
- Mentorship requires an agreement from both the mentee and mentor. Both need to want to be there
- Come prepared and work together; if you’re not committed to what you are doing, then why get others involved?
- A good mentor keeps a wall between what they want and what the mentee wants
- The most important quality a mentor can have is listening skills because they can’t help anyone if they aren’t listening
- Mentors have to understand and know what the mentee is working towards
“You’re going to get out of it what you put into it.” – Chris Wilson
Panelists shared with us that they view mentoring as a way to help others as they have been helped, and as a gift that produces the growth of the mentor, the mentee, and their businesses.
This month’s Swerve Meetup was filled with valuable information in several different areas regarding being in a mentor or mentee. Whether you are a mentor, mentee, or both, always remember to be respectful, considerate, and professional.
Want to join our next Swerve meetup? Check out what we have going on.
Did you miss the Swerve recap from May? Jeff Wolfe and Lyle Gravatt, attorneys at Forrest Firm, discussed how creative businesses can protect their intellectual property and setting up the best legal structure for their business.