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Ann Arbor Spark

March 6, 2018

Six ways a mentor can make you better

Part three in SPARK’s three-part entrepreneur mentoring series
Now that you have selected a mentor and built a designed alliance with her or him, you may want to check-in with yourself and confirm that in addition to company growth, you are experiencing some personal growth as well. We sat down with three Ann Arbor area entrepreneurs — Scott LaVictor of Arbor Insight, Nicol Pasuit of TechStak, and Christina York of SpellBound — and asked them to share some personal insights about the mentor-mentee partnership.
See Yourself More Clearly
LaVictor: “Self-awareness is the best gift you can give yourself, and a good mentor is a part of that journey.”
Pasuit: “Moving from corporate to entrepreneur, no one knows your skill set or what you’re capable of. You have to step out of your comfort zone, you really have to reflect on your background and skills. Being confident in your skills and your capabilities. The right mentor can help identify when you’re holding back — that you have more to give.”
York: “As the mentor-mentee relationship progressed, I realized he was mentoring me be a leader and feel like one, too. And that is a lifelong process.”

See Others More Clearly
York: “My mentor has joined me for meetings and he lets them know that he’s just there to help evaluate the process. After the meeting, he’s able to provide specific feedback that I can incorporate into future interactions.”
 
Learn New Ways to Respond to Challenges
LaVictor: “In my past career, I responded to challenges according to the customs, rules, and biases that were already established. Working with a mentor helps you translate that experience into your new role as an entrepreneur.”
York: “When I was thinking about going to market, we talked a lot about hiring. My mentor really encouraged me to make my own sale first, in order for me learn the ropes which then made it easier for me to transfer those skills.”
 
Leverage Your Existing Strengths
LaVictor: “Mentors helped me identify how more of my applicable skills were transferable to my new career.”
Pasuit: “After 20-plus years in a corporate environment, I knew myself pretty well, including my strengths and weaknesses. Your existing strengths mean more when you can accurately identify your weaknesses. I sought out a mentor who could hold me accountable and keep me on the right path.”
 
Build More Productive Relationships
LaVictor: “By working with mentors, my approach to working with mentors has matured.
Pasuit: “We don’t always have to agree, but a successful relationship keeps the lines of communication open.”
York: “You don’t need a mentor to last forever, it makes sense to have a mentor that fits your specific needs at that moment.”
 
Achieve What You Want
LaVictor: “Mentors have purposeful conversations that move me forward. Maybe not the direction I anticipated or expected, but forward. That’s how they helped me achieve what I want. By being a sounding board, by being a realist, a teacher, and a connector.
Pasuit: “My mentor was pointing out a specific problem with my business and I wasn’t listening. We repeatedly had the same discussion and I continued not gaining traction. As soon as I listened and took action, I started to make traction.”
York: “I wanted different. He was a sales guru and while I had never done sales before, I knew I’d need to get there for the company to grow, I’d need to get there. By working with my mentor, I negotiated that journey and was able to hire the best person possible which sets up everything else for success.”