Mentoring

I have been mentoring for over 15 years. I find tremendous gratification in helping someone else succeed. Lately, I have been trying out some mentor platforms that help mentors and mentees connect. They are PlatoHQ and ADPList. For the mentees, PlatoHQ is a paid service and ADPList is free. Neither provide any incentives for the mentors other than exposure and goodwill.

Why I mentor

When I was in my teens and twenties, I didn’t feel that I had knowledgeable people to guide me in my professional journey. I made many mistakes that could have been avoided. My career could have been much more lucrative, if only I had a willing mentor to help me. So now, later in life, I mentor because I want to change the cycle. I want to be the person I didn’t have when I needed it.

Mentoring vs executive coaching

The way I approach these two things are actually very similar. The difference is that coaching is paid and mentoring is free. I suppose the key difference is that I mentor for poor people and coach/consult if you have real money.

Discovery

How does one find a mentor or mentee? For me, it has been happenstance and coincidence. They might be a friend-of-a-friend or someone I met/interviewed/managed/worked with. Some people, I mentored for a few months/year and now just stay loosely in touch. Others, I mentored one time and never met again.

The benefit of these platforms is the exposure to more people. This is a double edged sword. I am happy mentoring, but there is a limit to the number of people I can help.

Scheduling

Each system has their own built in scheduling tool. There are multiple problems with them. The biggest one is that they want to reserve specific time intended to mentor. I have a full time job, so I prefer to let work meetings take priority and not block them off. For adhoc mentoring, I use TidyCal right now and it works fine.

Ideally, I would have two different modes. One which is “Find a new mentee” in which I would interview candidates and approve one. The other mode is “Normal” in which I am mentoring those people on some sort of schedule/frequency. Neither system works this way currently.

Incentives

There are a few ways I can imagine incentives for mentoring these systems.

  1. Reputation. Give me points and stars and reviews. I want to be the best mentor.
  2. Recruiting. Let me recruit from the collection of mentees the way Bookface works on yCombinator.
  3. Money. If there is a corporate sponsor, maybe taking a cut of the fee is appropriate. Otherwise, maybe a tip jar makes sense.
  4. Charity. I would love my mentorship to generate money for my favorite charity.

Summary

Mentoring is a good deed. Everyone should attempt to do it once in a while. I set up a group session on ADPList to see how that works. My presentation is titled, “How hiring managers review portfolios” and is scheduled for Thursday Feb 10 at 5pm PST.

I hope it goes well. Video conferences with alot of people can be challenging. I am considering using Slido to help with Q&A. Hopefully, I use it correctly.


Whatya think?