The value of a mentor is like the value of a friend. It’s not easily quantifiable or sometimes even definable but this relationship is immeasurably important to our wellbeing and sense of identity. Mentors are friends, professionals, agony aunts, our biggest champions and our most honest confidants. Mentors offer wisdom, advice and encouragement whilst seeing their mentees develop across their careers.
I have had mentors for the last decade and I’m truly grateful for their unfettering advice and steadfast leadership throughout my career challenges and successes. I ask them questions when I’m confident about something, and I ask them questions when I’m not so confident about something. More often than not, they’ve been there and done that and their advice is introspective, thoughtful and grounded in experience.
I came to know my first mentor, Jasper Martens, CMO of PensionBee when I was working within marketing for a Fintech firm. One of Jasper’s LinkedIn reviews reads ‘a manager, a marketer and a person with a big heart!’ and this rings true throughout our conversations together. He is wonderful at listening and looking at scenarios objectively. I asked him for advice about marketing strategy and he was kind enough to share his own experience and techniques with this. Having a compassionate ear like Jasper is one of the most valuable attributes of a good mentor. After working together for some time, Jasper kindly saw me grow into ‘an incredible analytical marketer who has shown he can grow the customer base of (financial) brands. I hope I can continue to work with him on other projects in the future.’
For me, the most profound and fulfilling aspect of mentorship is the human element. Being able to sound out ideas, ask questions and receive expert advice is incredible, as is the connection that you form with a mentor. Much like mycelium and root systems that support trees, there is always a network of people supporting a larger collective community. If your mentor doesn’t know the answer, they may well know the person who does. Once you’ve started reaching out and forming connections, the ecosystem grows!
One of the motivators for starting my own business was to foster and nurture these working relationships. When I first started talking to Andrew Knowles, a B2B copywriter and business coach I told him about wanting to strike a fulfilling work-life balance and being able to run a business that I love whilst making time for my family. He had been in this position before and he told me to go for it. Often, mentors give you the reassurance needed to take the step you have been considering for a while.
In that respect, one of the kindest gifts that a mentor can give you is time. Without fail, my mentors make time for me. They are busy people but they are always there to give me guidance and a boost. Recently I have had the pleasure of talking to Mike Symes, CEO of Financial Marketing Limited. Mike’s given me a real steer in terms of branding and direction for my agency. Discussing how my business is likely to grow has really helped me to make plans and projections for the future.
I have also been on the other side, acting as a mentor to a graduate who was finding his speciality. I noticed that he had a real aptitude for web development which is an area he is now running a highly successful business in. Sometimes we have unofficial mentors and we often meet these archetypal nurturing people throughout our lives- people who want to see us succeed and flourish. One of the greatest pieces of advice that an Uncle once gave me was ‘do what you enjoy’. It is an innately uncomplicated piece of advice, but an often overlooked or seemingly difficult path to tread when we start our careers. A fantastic poem entitled Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye summarises what being a mentor and the advice that they give to you truly means;
- Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
- only kindness that ties your shoes
- and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
- only kindness that raises its head
- from the crowd of the world to say
- It is I you have been looking for,
- and then goes with you everywhere
- like a shadow or a friend.
Have you got experience with mentoring? What do you find the most useful element of mentoring? I’d love to hear your insights, so drop me a message or leave a comment below.
JASPER MARTINS CMO PENSION BEE
"I've worked with Yaser in various ways over the last years.
He's an incredible analytical marketer and has shown he can grow the customer base of financial brands. I hope I can continue to work with him on other projects in the future.