In a new feature on KARRYON, Travel Corporation CEO John Veitch (JV) shares his personal insights on industry trends and the power of travel.
This month, I’ve had a few questions surrounding mentors, which reminded me how much having great ones benefited me on my career journey, so I thought I’d share some of my insights into the art of mentoring:
How to find a mentor
I often get asked, where do you start in the search for your mentor? It can be as simple as crossing paths with someone at an industry function and exchanging details or seeking advice from a colleague that you work with directly or indirectly.
The travel industry’s TIME program is a great place to start – it opens many doors. Seek out someone that has a role you aspire to, even lifestyle choices you’re aligned with – whether you want to have children and balance that with your career or you have different plans, find someone that inspires you.
How to know they’re the perfect fit for you
There are two types of mentors – formal, the kind that you may literally pop the question to “will you be my mentor?” These are the kind you’ll meet through TIME or at a networking event, exchange business cards and schedule sessions over a specific period.
Then there’s the informal kind, where they may not know they’re your mentor but have a positive impact on your life, and It may only strike you in hindsight that they were yours. I have been both over the years and am currently an informal mentor to a few individuals I really see great potential in and admire in some way.
My first mentor was Rudolf Kalveks, formerly in Strategy at Guinness. I was 25 working as a Strategy Analyst and in awe of this man that was a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford and dubbed the “biggest brain in the west.” He and various other mentors I’ve had, really helped me in the significant transition from middle management to leadership and I gained vital skills and strategies from them that I carry with me until this day.
Some tips for being a great mentees
If you don’t ask, you won’t receive – start by reaching out to your desired mentor and don’t be shy, in most cases they’ll admire your proactivity and what’s the worst that could happen? They simply may just not have the time.
Be confident and do the work – be organised and structure the sessions. Make sure you prepare with some questions and make clear what you’d like to get out of the session so it’s a productive exercise for all.
Be open/honest – let them know your true goals and aspirations, that’s the only way that that your mentor can give you the best and most specific advice tailored to you.
Recognise that your mentor isn’t superhuman. They have strengths and weaknesses, just like you. Feel free to take the gems of insights that resonate with you and leave aside what doesn’t serve you.
Move from can’t to maybe – I used to mentor a young lady who felt that her personal circumstances wouldn’t allow her to get to where she wanted to be at work. By asking her why not? She actually couldn’t find an answer that seemed plausible to an external party and which wasn’t to do with a lack of confidence within herself. By talking to her, it drew out the fact that MAYBE it wasn’t so far-fetched after all.
Stick with it, be patient and give it time – you may not have a light bulb moment straight away, but make sure you persist, be consistent and enjoy the ride.
And some tips for being a good mentor
Listen and ask questions – sometimes that’s all your mentee will need to help them realise the answer for themselves
Don’t feel like you need to “Obama” your mentee with ground-breaking inspiration every time, as that’s not sustainable. Practical tips they can implement into their everyday are the key
Start with basics and get to know them – open up about your own similar challenges, empathise with your mentee and discuss things they can do to resolve any current hurdles they may be facing.
Find the right time to challenge your mentee so they start to think outside the box. This will help them grow and get them thinking differently.
Don’t sign up if you don’t have the time to dedicate – this is important as it can be the biggest disappointment for a mentee who’s put the effort in.
Then once you feel you’ve got the most out of your time together, comes the break-up process. Be up-front from the get-go (set the expectations from the beginning – once a month over six months is a good benchmark) so no-one gets hurt. You’ll likely stay in touch and opt to catch up for maintenance sessions.
Having incredible mentors over the years was crucial to the development of my career and helped shape who I am today. I highly encourage everyone from entry level to leaders to get aboard the mentor train.
Have you had a mentor? Tell us how it helped your career below.
Share this story