A mentor is someone that provides guidance and is an important asset on our journey to be the best version of ourselves. Sometimes we have mentors and we don’t even realise it. But we should be conscious on who are our mentors, how to get the most out of them, find other mentors that cover other areas and also help them improve their own mentorship skills.

I remember when I was at a company and I found myself with several mentors without realising. Due to some circumstances I had monthly 1on1s with my direct manager (okay that’s to be expected) but also with other people with different kind of roles:

  • A head of human resources
  • A head of product management
  • A head of process management
  • A head of recruitment

I’d have some meeting with them for some reason and I’d ask: how about a rain check in a month? And somehow that would stick and that started to be periodical. I’d start to present some challenges that I was having and they, being much more experienced, would help me addressing and overcoming those issues. In time they would start to become invested in my growth.

And this is an important part of being a mentor. I want a mentor to be invested in me. To push me out of my comfort zone, to give me candid feedback and actually to start having goals for me. Sometimes they need help with this. They will have tons of things on their mind so I may help my doing my homework and try to get the most out of the little time I have with them.

When I saw that I was getting huge value from these sessions I started to pick other high experienced people to target. But this was not as easy as I’d guess. It’s easier when we already have some kind of relationship and we can mutually gain from a periodic meeting. I’ve tried to convince several people to start meeting with me but they would not show much interest. They could say “yes, great, let’s do it”, but never follow through. But that’s fine.

Having these people that we can learn from is great. Another kind of mentorship that I’ve came to value a lot are the “mentor friends”. I have a couple of good and close friends that don’t meet periodically with me, but that allow for constant access to troubleshooting. I may have some challenge on my mind and I can just drop to a chat and start a discussion.

And I started to have several groups of friends that can help me in several areas. I can go to a group a discuss a new technology or a software engineering problem. I can go to another group and talk about people issues. And better than that they can also bring issues to the table and there’s a lot to learn from these debates.

By also being able to help others we can train our own mentorship skills. Having a close network of experienced people that teach us, and less experienced people that we can tech to is great to make us grow.