After leaving professional hockey, I was determined to break into the business scene. I knew that growing a business came with many challenges and I wanted to be able to address them as they arose, so I immersed myself in learning. Trust me, you learn a lot when you first start out, simply by doing and experiencing it. I also used every opportunity I had to learn from other entrepreneurs that came before me.
After a while, I started building my own businesses, but I continued to search for others who could help me continue to grow, especially in those early days. I met with industry leaders, read and researched a lot of business practices and stayed on top of the latest marketing trends.
You don’t ever grow out of the need for mentorship and growth. Now, I’m privileged to be in the position to pay it forward. Over the years I’ve learned that every person has different strengths and weaknesses, and being a good mentor involves recognizing those strengths and weaknesses and helping people to enhance their talents and acquire new skills. To be effective as a mentor, leaders should also help people identify professional development opportunities, whether that’s additional training, education, or another form of learning.
In this digital world where gaining knowledge on a subject is as easy as an internet search, I don’t want to see younger generations ignore the value of a traditional mentor. Not only should entrepreneurs seek guidance from mentors in their space, but those already in leadership positions should proactively reach out to others who could benefit from their experience.
It’s a two-way street. Those leaders (predominately the baby boomer generation) who have years of industry experience can benefit from relationships with millennials and the younger generations. You are never too old to learn, and the new generation of entrepreneurs bring fresh perspective and innovation to the table. In turn, mentees can gain a better understanding for the advice you preach through your partnership and can apply those strategies to their own ventures.
I’m a huge advocate of technology, but still, nothing can replace hands-on interaction. So my advice for leaders, especially those who have personally benefited from mentorship, is to reach out to your team. Let them know you’re available, willing to teach them the tricks of the trade and are interested in fostering the next generation of leaders.