We held our first 2014 Mentor Advisor session last Friday Feburary 14th and one of our activities was an open brainstorming session facilitated by Charles Pfeffer of the 2014 Advisory board. Participants shared rapid-fire suggestions for useful (and non-useful!) mentor actions. Plus two experienced mentors from last year contributed insights:
HTR Mentor Group’s Brainstorm
Be a guide
Transfer knowledge and experience
Avoid mistakes someone else has already made
Share real life examples:
Share stories and experiences rather than just give advice
Know your stuff
personal connections and network building
Understanding the “why” not the “what”
Don’t solve the problem:
Let the student lead the process and be supportive
Don’t do the work. Guide the student to do it.
Be a sounding board
Someone to listen to ideas
Listen intently before giving advice
Let student come to the conclusions themselves
Organize (regiment, accountability)
Think from the end
Call “bullshit” diplomatically
Committed to success
Cares about my progress
Bring a fresh perspective
Provide an outside viewpoint
Suggest talking to multiple people to get unique perspectives
David Cohen’s Mentor Manifesto – Courtesy of Richard Glaser
Expect nothing in return (you’ll be delighted with what you do get back)
Be authentic/practice what you preach
Be direct. Tell the truth, however hard.
The best mentor relationships eventually become two-way
Adopt at least one company every single year. Experience counts.
Clearly separate opinion from fact.
Hold information in confidence.
Clearly commit to mentor or do not. Either is fine.
Know what you don’t know. Say, “I don’t know” when you don’t. “I don’t know is preferable to bravado.
Guide, don’t control. Teams must make their own decisions. Guide, but never tell them what to do. Understand that it is their company, not yours.
Accept and communicate with other mentors that get involved.
Provide specific, actionable advice. Don’t be vague
Be challenging/robust, but never destructive.
Have empathy, Remember that startups are hard.
Fred Dewey (offered in call prior to 2/14)
Hold regular weekly meetings
These are CRITICAL
If you have to move it, reschedule don’t cancel
Recommend Mon or Tue meetings
What homework did you get?
What are you doing this week to accomplish it?
Understand key principles of the Launchpad methodology and organize your mentorship around that
What are we here to do?
We’re here to let the customer tell us what to build.
Come to as many Friday afternoon meetings as possible
make them sacred
Be there to here the feedback
Record the presentations and the feedback
Alex Zapesochny of iCardiac and I had a broad-ranging discussion after last’s years HTRLaunchPad program about what worked, what new things we learned and what we could have improved on. Alex serves on the LaunchPad Advisory Board and as a mentor and I work on the teaching team. As a writer I was interested in doing a concise version of the methodology for those who might not wade through the very long texts written by inventors of the lean concept.
We also had an epiphany of our own and that was that customer discovery is a process that anyone starting anything new should go through, before committing time and resources to their idea. This included community projects, new product development, local ‘mom and pop’ businesses, sales initiatives and more. So we felt our book should cover the application of the methodology in a broader sense.
The result is an ebook, available on Amazon, called The Customer Discovery Matrix: A Concise Guide To Starting Anything by Martin Edic & Alex Zapesochny. It’s our hope that we can encourage adoption of this process across a wide range of innovative efforts taking place in Upstate NY.
We’re holding an informational session at the site of this year’s program for anyone interested in serving as a mentor or advisor to the teams. Rochester Brainery is in the Village Gate complex on Goodman Street near the Memorial Art Gallery. If you enter from the courtyard between Empada Brazilian Steak and Dark Horse Coffee, it’s just down the hall, hang a left and you’ll see it on the right.
The session runs from 3-5, includes refreshments, and will cover what’s involved, an overview of the process and an opportunity to meet others like yourselves.
And you’ll be done in plenty of time to enjoy your Valentine’s Day celebrations!