How well are you utilizing your mentors?
Rebeca Arbona, an UpTech Mentor, gave us her take on mentorship and how to best utilize your relationships to get the most out of the experience.
I became an UpTech mentor a couple of years ago to connect what I know about brand strategy with the startup community. At the time, I wanted to connect to the crackling intensity and growth of our local startup ecosystem and learn more about them. I get a real charge from working with businesses that are just starting out with a blank slate. I’ve been a brand strategist for a lot of years, so I can really help a company hone their thinking about their brand and craft clear, simple, articulate messages that express what matters most to their customers. The energy at the beginning stages of a company with lots of possibilities is thrilling and motivating.
As an entrepreneur you can choose any direction you want, but it’s important to get passed the intoxication of infinite possibilities and make some hard decisions. Strategy is choice! Be smart and gather input from folks with deep experience. You’ll probably start getting conflicting input from a lot of directions, so you’ll need to sift through all of it to make the best decision for your company. And you might end up in a different place than you started, but that’s okay.
You might be wondering, ‘what are the best ways to work with/utilize mentors?’ From my perspective there are a few ways to do this. Be engaged, do your homework and ask thoughtful, challenging questions. Mentors have a ton of business experience and expertise to share with you, so extract as much as possible from them.
Engaging dialogue is key to getting the most out of the interaction, especially if the two of you disagree. I actually love that. It’s not insulting to be challenged. It’s insulting to have a mentee who isn’t engaged. Ask your mentors for more resources so you can learn about their area of expertise, like websites, blogs, articles. The more you know, the more both parties can get out of your future conversations.
As you build your company and brand, don’t forget to keep looking for ways to improve. Take a look at other brands who face similar challenges. They don’t even have to be the same type of company or selling to the same market as you. Take a look at how that organization handled that challenge, what communications they put behind it, how did they solve the problem? Can you try similar approaches? Often you can get great insights this way.
As a mentor, my goal is to help startup founders grow, learn and succeed. In turn, you help me do the same. I’m inspired to learn just as much from our exchange of knowledge as you are.
Rebeca is a highly accomplished brand strategist with a track record of bringing clients deep consumer insight, differentiating strategies, breakthrough ideas, and thoughtful leadership. She has broad experience in leading strategy, insights and new product development teams to excellence across a variety of industries including CPG, spirits, retail, finance, health and professional services. Rebeca is the Founder and President of Tapestry Strategy. As well as being an UpTech Mentor, Rebeca serves on the UpTech Board of Directors.