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How Do You Find a Mentor?

One of the most important things you can do at any point in your career is to get a mentor to help you grow and learn. But how do you do it?

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Mentorship

Most people feel lost in life. They don’t know which path to take, they don’t know what do to next and it often ends up creating stress and stopping people from evolving. What some people end up doing is finding a mentor. They search for someone to show them the right steps and what to do next.

The benefits of having a mentor are innumerous: boost your confidence, helps you get a better control of your life and career, teaches you important life lessons, etc. Most of the people, however, don’t know how to find a mentor. What should you do? Where should you start?

Watch this video and find out!


Transcript From The Video:

John Sonmez: Hey, what’s up, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. One of the most requested videos that I’ve been getting so far, I get asked this all the time, I’m finally going to try to give you a decent answer for this which is: How do I find a mentor? I got this email and I’ve gotten a lot of emails on this but I’m going to read this one. “Hey John, number one,” this is a response to I think probably a sales pitch here. “Number one, I’m too busy and broke to buy your stuff right now. Two, I’m still dumping my money into my basic skills.” That’s cool. I understand. It’s all right. It’s all right, Nick. You don’t have to buy my stuff. “Please keep sending your emails to me. I know the process and soon enough I will get around to your audio book that I really want.”

If you’re wondering what he’s talking about I’ve got Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual. I actually recorded the audio for this and it’s about 13 hours and it also includes some bonus material that you don’t find in the print edition of the book. He says, “Real quick, if you have time, do you have any books on finding a mentor or how to go about it?” I actually do have a chapter in Soft Skills about this but I’m going to talk about it here too. “I feel like I am constantly taking online courses and gaining a lot but bouncing all over the place on what course I learn. I’m looking for something on what a mentor could be. Should it be local? If you have time, could you please point me in the right direction? Nick.”

Finding a mentor, you’re never going to just find a mentor. This is sort of this myth. I don’t know anyone that’s like, you know, you go out to dinner and they’re like, “This is my wife. Her name is Patricia and this is my mentor Joe.” You don’t find that. You don’t just like have a mentor buddy that just follows you around and they’re your mentor. It doesn’t happen that way. There’s no Yoda out there that you go and carry them on your shoulder and he says do or do not — there’s no try. That doesn’t happen in real life. I don’t know of it. Maybe it happens somewhere. Maybe like — I think monks probably have mentors. I think there’s like the head monk and he mentors some little bald headed monk. In software development that doesn’t happen, at least as far as I know.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get mentorship but you just have to do it in the right way. There’s a couple of ways that you can do this. One way is to just find people that are more experienced than you and sort of see if you can help them in some way and learn from them, right? No one —okay, I’m not going to say no one — passes up free work because there are plenty of people that have offered to work for me for free and I’ve said no. But no one passes up free work if presented in the right way.

If I really think that you’re going to do something valuable for me for free and you’re anticipating the need, for example, I give props to Lewis out there who if you’ve seen on Simple Programmer the site has been designed better. What he did—I get this email, because I get plenty of emails from people that say, “Hey, I want to redesign your site” but what Lewis did is he sent me mock ups of the design and he’s like, “If you make this CSS change it will make this look better.” He sent me the pictures. I mean, he spent a lot of work on this and he’s doing this all for free. That’s how you give someone value is that you give it. You hand it to them where they’re just like, “Wow, I’m definitely going to do this” and I implemented all those changes because he had given it to me in that way.

That’s how you get a mentor is you go out and you find someone who’s doing something that you want to do and you don’t ask them, “What can I do for you that’s not going to work?” That’s not going to work. In order for me to figure out — plenty of people send me emails all the time, “What can I do for you, John? I want you to mentor me. What can I do for you?” I say — I don’t even respond to a lot of those emails because it’s going to take me effort to figure out what you can do for me. I’m going to have to say, “Well, what skills do you have?” Then we have to think about, “Well, what do I really need?”

But if you can come and pre-anticipate the need, if you understand someone and you’ve been following them and you want them to mentor you and you said, “Well, I noticed that this guy” let’s take this to an offline business if you said it in person — he’s running his online business — and I would really like to run one like him. He does this mail run to the post office every day. What if I sent him an email and said, “Hey, look, I know you ship your stuff to the post office every day. How about if I come by and I grab the stuff and I make the run for you every day to the post office? I would love to do that just to help you and maybe you could give me five minutes of your time every once in a while when you have some time and just give me some tips on what you’re doing or maybe I could watch you for half an hour and just see what you’re doing. I won’t get in the way. I won’t ask any questions. I’ll just watch you.”

That would be how to get—that’s how you do it, right? That’s a specific example but I want you to think the bigger terms of this, right? How could you apply this? How could you use that? If you want to get that physical mentor, a real mentor that’s what you’re going to have to do. You’re going to have to figure out some way to add benefit to someone and then you can watch them. That’s going to be effective if you do it that way.

The second way to get a mentor is pay for one. There’s a site that I use pretty often. A buddy of mine, Dan Martell, he created a site called Clarity.fm. You can go here. I’ll plug it. He actually sold the company. He’s a great mentor. He helped me a lot. You can actually find people that you could pay by the hour. I mean you can even talk to Mark Cuban on there. I think it’s like $3000 an hour. You better have really good questions if you’re going to ask him something on there. You can do that and you can also do coaching.

I have paid for coaches and a lot of people pay for coaching. I don’t advertise this much because I don’t—my schedule is pretty full, but I will give you a link here and read it carefully. My coaching is expensive. It’s over $500 an hour. If you want the coaching you have to read my Soft Skills book first and I’m very selective with who I would take, but that is another way to pay for mentorship because then you’re paying for someone to actually sit down and spend the time. A lot of people, if they’re going to give you coaching they’re going to charge you a whole lot of money because it’s got to be worth their time because that doesn’t scale. They’re also going to be selective because they want to invest in you.

That’s another thing — if you’re totally stuck you can always pay for coaching, and sometimes coaching seems expensive, but I’ve paid a couple of grand a month for someone to give me a few phone calls a month for coaching to tell me exactly where I need to improve, what I need to change in my business in order to make it to the next step. I might not have to do that forever but I know people who are high up in the internet marketing and entrepreneurship space and they have coaches that they pay them $10,000 a month to coach them and it’s worth it because it grows their business.

That’s the basic options. You’re never going to find that whole—you’re never going to ask someone and say, “Will you be my mentor?” If anyone agrees to be your mentor when you ask, “Will you be my mentor?” you should really question whether you want this person to be your mentor. It’s just not going to happen, not someone who you would want to be your mentor who values your time.

Hopefully that helps you. I think this is, like I said, a good question. A lot of people ask this question but that’s the truth of it. Like I said, if you want to do my coaching services read the fine print and be ready to work. If you have a question for me, email me at john@simpleprogrammer.com. This is my free mentorship to you and if you like this channel, subscribe.

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Topics:
skills ,mentoring ,mentorship ,career advice ,career development

Published at DZone with permission of John Sonmez, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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