Over the last twenty years of my professional career I’ve had a few different achievements that I am very proud of. I’ve worked on some incredible projects with some incredible teams as a part of a large consulting firm. I’ve been an independent consultant to some of the largest companies in the world. I’ve started several companies taking the last one public at a valuation of over $150MM. All that being said, the moment I remember the most, and perhaps with the most pride, is the first time somebody referred to me as their mentor. It wasn’t an official statement. We had not discussed this previously. I was being introduced to a third party and they simply referred to me as their mentor. I feel like in the moment I may have blushed.
It has been a few years since that happened and I find myself fortunate to be called a mentor by a few different people. It is a position that I take very seriously. With each person that has been added to that list I become more and more aware of my actions in my personal and professional life. I understand that I carry the responsibility not just of presenting myself in the best light for my own reputation and career but also for those who look to me as an example. Being a mentor has helped me grow in ways that I never thought it would and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity.
Now I find myself asking...who mentors the mentors?
It has been almost a year since I left Baker Technologies (now Blackbird). In that year I took on the task of publishing my first book. This on its own was a daunting task but one that I jumped into with both feet because I wanted to do something completely new; something I was uncomfortable doing.
Only by embracing discomfort can we expand what we are capable of.
The most valuable exercise I had to go through in this process was to take inventory of what I think I am good at and what I need help with. In The Highest Common Denominator I speak about how you really need to go through this exercise in order to understand your blind spots so you can find somebody to help fill them. I’m reminded of a quote by Oscar Wilde…
“I’m not nearly young enough to know everything”
As I have gotten older, now finding myself in my forties, I have really come to relate to this. Ten years ago I don’t know if I had the self-awareness necessary to admit this to myself but…
I need a mentor
As a post-exit founder I find that the requirements I have for a mentor are different than most.
I need somebody who has “been there, done that” but who can also speak to the unique challenges of trying to stay engaged in an emerging industry.
I need help understanding my “worth” as an addition to a team.
I need to be able to have a frank conversation about where I am most valuable to an organization.
I need somebody to help me find my blind spots.
So now my search begins. The next challenge has presented itself and if the journey to the solution is half as fun as the journey that got me here I can't wait to get started!