#077: How to Find a Mentor to Take You Further, Faster [Podcast]

Recently, I recorded a podcast interview with Alex Barker at the Leadership Dojo. He asked me, “So how do young leaders find mentors?” It’s a question I get at least once a week.


image courtesy of shutterstock.com/Zhukov Oleg

To be brutally honest, your chances of finding a mentor are slim and none. The problem is your definition of mentorship. It’s too narrow.

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When most people use the term mentor, they mean a one-on-one coaching relationship with someone older and more experienced.

It might be informal (someone who advises you ad hoc) or formal (someone who meets with you on a regular basis). Regardless, the demand exceeds the available supply.

Fortunately, organizations like Radical Mentoring are working on training more mentors. But it’s a slow process.

We simply don’t have enough mature men and women willing or able to make the investment.

But (and this is the good news) you can be mentored right now if you understand the four levels of mentoring:

  1. Virtual Mentoring: Read blogs and books, listen to podcasts, and take online courses.
  2. Group Mentoring: Go to live conferences, join membership sites, or participate in group coaching.
  3. Peer Mentoring: Find like-minded peers and be intentional about forming friendships with them. You can also join a mastermind groups.
  4. Personal Mentoring: Invest in a coach or find a volunteer mentor.

Jesus said, “He who is faithful in little is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).

Until you have taken advantage of the lower mentoring levels, you probably won’t gain access to the higher levels. Even if you eventually find a mentor (according to the traditional definition), you’re cheating yourself by not doing what you can now to learn and grow.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have—a one-on-one, traditional mentoring relationship—focus on what you do have: more opportunities than ever before in history to learn and grow. If you simply expand your definition, you will find mentoring opportunities everywhere.

Listener Questions

  1. Garrett Ira asked, “What would you recommend to new or newly promoted leaders in order to build their credibility with more experienced team members?”
  2. Gary Thomas asked, “Are the differences in leading volunteers compared to paid staff?”
  3. Andy McCormick asked, “Should I be concerned about changing the name of my company if it no longer fits my current business offerings?”

Tip of the Week

If you are feeling a little down during this time of year, you’re not alone. You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

If you are experiencing “the winter blues, here are five items to consider:

  • Sleep—are you getting adequate rest?
  • Sunlight—If you can’t get enough natural sunlight, I recommend the Philips goLITE BLUE Light Therapy Device. This is what I use.
  • Diet—are you eating healthy, nutrient rich foods?
  • Vitamins—are you taking a good multivitamin?
  • Exercise—This stimulates your entire system (if it is vigorous enough), releasing endorphins.

Special Announcements

  1. If you are considering launching your own platform—or just getting serious about it—you need a self-hosted WordPress blog.

    This is not as complicated as it sounds. In fact, I have put together a step-by-step screencast on exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge.

    By the way, I just updated this screencast recently, so it has the latest and greatest information available. I walk you through the entire process in exactly 20 minutes.

    Click here for more information.

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    This is a terrific way to cross-promote your blog or website, because, if I use your question on the show, I will link to it—just like I did with the callers in this episode.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: What mentoring opportunities do you have NOW that you haven’t taken advantage of? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    My mentor is amazing. We focus mostly on the spiritual and family side of things, because those are my biggest areas of need right now. I simply cannot express how helpful he has been.

    My next objective is to find a business mentor.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Awesome Matt. Many people don’t think about mentors for their spiritual or family needs yet those are two huge areas in our lives.

    • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jon D Harrison

      As @jmlalonde:disqus points out, great point about mentors in various areas – it is important to consider what that mentor’s expertise is, and let them mentor in their strengths, rather than mentor based on my weaknesses.

  • Mario Kozinczak

    You share and promote a self-hosted WordPress blog with a step-by-step screencast. Do you have one for web sites?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You mean separately? I’m afraid not.

    • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

      Why not use WordPress to set up the site? I used to think that was for “Small time players” until I learned that more than half of Fortune 500 companies use it to manage their sites.

    • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

      Mario, I use WordPress.org for my website and both of my blogs. You set up Pages rather than Posts, but the format is similar.

  • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

    Great podcast, Michael. Toastmasters is a great place to find a mentor. Most clubs actively promote mentorship, not only for speaking, but leadership as well. Toastmaster dues are low, and there are clubs in most areas. The secret is to find a club that works with your schedule and has a leadership style that fosters growth. I’m lucky to be a part of Palomar Airport Toastmasters, one of the top clubs in California. In existence for over 25 years, I’ve found many members willing to help with speeches, leadership questions, and business ideas. We even have a roundtable style meeting at a local coffee shop afterwards to talk ideas and evaluate the meeting. If you are ever in the Carlsbad area on a Tuesday morning, be sure to drop in and say hi.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, John. This is a great suggestion.

  • Paolo_Sini

    Michael, I think we are very lucky, because technology allows us to have all the mentors we want and need. At the beginning of 2012 I even didn’t know who you were and now you’re one of my mentors about leadership and social media. I never thought of writing a life plan before I knew you and know I have one. I didn’t know who Dave Ramsey was and now he is one my mentors regarding personal finance issues. And I have many others. The funny thing is that I’m in Italy and I meet you and all the others every week. The only thing I miss is a periodic review with my mentors to check progress.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      What a great example, Paolo. Thanks.

  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jon D Harrison

    I’ve recently made friends with my son’s friend’s dad (follow that?) Whose name is Bruce Hurley. I admire what he has done as an entrepreneur and consultant, and he is also becoming a great friend.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Sweet Jon. Hope this new relationship becomes a lifelong friendship that helps both of you.

  • http://www.hoopercoaching.com/ Charles Hooper Jr

    There is confusion these days about the definitions of coaching and mentoring. These are used synonymously but this is not helpful. A mentor is someone who has experience or expertise who is helping someone gain that same expertise. A coach is someone who is an expert in helping others change but doesn’t give advise or tell people what to do. I have experienced excellent mentoring and coaching but they are different. Leaders whom we are helping must also know the difference so they can have realistic expectations of the results and how the relationship is carried out.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. You make an important point. I am not sure I agree with your definitions, but that’s beside the point. The important thing is to clarify your expectations up front. Thanks so much.

  • http://www.kenzimmermanjr.com/ Ken Zimmerman Jr.

    A good friend of mine started a peer mentoring group this year. It has been a real blessing. I feel it has helped me grow in one year more than I have grown in the past three years. When you share your goals with each other, it brings up the level of accountability. Personally, I would like to attend a conference or two in the next three years. Thanks as always, Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Peer mentoring groups are great. I am in one now and loving it.

  • chiseled_images

    Michael, Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. It’s a nervous time for me, but knowing that I have the support of others that it is the right thing to do, I can now start to relax and as you said “embrace it”.

  • lanister

    LOL..that’s typical brown parents Neil. They only frown upon the bad things. If you do a good thing, until next Nexus 5 & ipad air

  • Dan Erickson

    My mentor is retired, humble, and driven by love. Life is the subject rather than success.

  • l.Wilson

    Great podcast Mike. I have been participating in virtual mentoring for years. My mentors have been Seth Godin, Dan Miller, Dave Ramsey, Chris Guillebeau, yourself, Joel Osteen, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pat Flynn, Andy Andrews, Todd Henry, and Srinivas Rao. I have relied on different experts at different times of need. I believe Andy Andrews calls this a personal board of directors.

    • l.Wilson

      And the intelligent Marie Forleo. I can’t believe I forgot her wisdom.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        Marie is awesome!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Many of the ones you mentioned serve on my board, too (virtually).

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I see a few names I consider my mentors as well. Dan, Dave, Chris, and Pat are all great guys and have done things worth looking up to.

      • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

        I seem to be in several “mentoring groups” with I.Wilson and you too, Joe. Who knew??

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Excellent podcast today Michael. Loved hearing the shoutout to Alex Barker and his podcast along with Linda Hoenigberg asking her question.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Joe. It was fun doing the interview with Alex.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    Hooray for virtual mentoring!
    And thanks for the tip of the week – reaffirming the only recipe I know for making it through December.

  • http://raymondduke.com/ Ray

    I would love to have a mentor, but it’s so hard to find one. Listening to the podcast in hopes of getting some help on how to find out.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Ray, I hope the podcast helps you. Michael gave a couple of great ways to find a mentor, whether it’s an in-person mentor or a virtual mentor.

      • http://raymondduke.com/ Ray

        @jmlalonde:disqus the podcast did help. Thanks. I’m considering starting a mastermind group for people I share interests with. It’s not a mentorship, but it shares similar outcomes.

  • Mentorguru

    Hi I don´t agree that mentors are hard to find, but you raise an interesting point in the next. When you says that the problem is the narrow definition of mentorship. And of course I love when you said that instead of focusing on what you don’t have—a one-on-one, traditional mentoring relationship—focus on what you do have: more opportunities than ever before in history to learn and grow. If you simply expand your definition, you will find mentoring opportunities everywhere.

    I post it on my blog at http://www.mentorguru.info

    Thank you.

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    Podcasts and blogs provide quite a bit of mentoring for me these days. I really appreciate you addressing this on your podcast today.

  • http://www.karyoberbrunner.com/ Kary Oberbrunner

    Can’t wait to jump into this podcast Michael. Been too busy with the Best Year Ever product. Loving it. http://bestyearever.me/

  • http://www.meeresbiologie-studieren.de/ Lisa Mertens

    Hi everybody,
    I think we treat “finding a mentor (for life)” in too long time intervals. I meet or find strong new mentors in each stage of my life, currently around every 2 years. Some of them offer their advice openly, some of them I approach directly. And the most encouraging thing is that all you need might be one idea or one sentence to get you into a new direction. Long-term mentors (that might be with us all life
    long) are very valuable, but I am also very grateful for everybody who supported me just in a crucial moment. Lastly I would like to contribute the idea that we also have to mentor others if we expect mentoring “from above”. I try to give back as much as I can to the younger generation. That’s the only way mentoring keeps growing in number and its positive influence. ~Lisa

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This is really helpful, Lisa. I agree with this. It takes a lot of the pressure off finding a mentor if you don’t have to find one “for life.”

  • Trina Lee

    Michael, appreciated what you had to say about investing financially in mentoring.

    I began working this fall with 4word as their Mentor Program Manager. 4word serves professional Christian women (www.4wordwomen.org) and through our paid Mentor Match Program (bit.ly/4wordmentor), we’re able to pair mentees with mentors four times a year. Our mentor pairs meet in person, online or the over the phone during a 10-week, six session program. I came on board in time to participate in the final conference call with our fall class and was inspired to hear the impact the program has made in the lives of professional women.

    Thank you, again, for tweeting today about the 4word Mentor Match Program! I’ll be sharing this podcast with many.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Trina. It sounds like a great format for a mentoring program.

  • Knicole68

    Thank you once again for an amazing topic. I read books, blogs, listen to podcasts and watch webinars all the time on topics that are relevant to me starting my business and I never considered those things as “mentoring”. I’ve always wanted to get a personal mentor to guide me to the next level, but until I can comfortably afford to do that I will continue getting mentored virtually. Thanks again Michael for your incredible insight.

  • http://www.seektokeep.com Lujie Chen

    I agree that finding a personal mentor, someone who is vested in your growth and want to help you succeed, is tough, but tremendously beneficial! I am lucky enough to have such a mentor for about 10 years and he has made all the difference in my life! :)

    In terms of finding such mentors, I feel that having clarity and self awareness is important (i.e. knowing what stage you are in, what help you need and how can a mentor help you in that specific area etc)

    Beyond finding such mentors, I guess the next challenge is how to keep them. Will love to hear your podcast on that topic :)

  • jenifer

    thanks michael….i was reading the book of howard hendricks book,as iron sharpens iron….and in this podcast i realized that there are many ways we can find one…then i have to used now what i have…technology i say!….tnx.;) Bless you!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Love Howard Hendricks. He was a virtual mentor to me, while I was in college and as a young married man.