This question, do teens need a mentor, has been on my mind for a while now, particularly since we got home from participating in FinCon15. FinCon is a conference for personal finance bloggers and this is the third year I have been able to attend. It has been a great source of encouragement for me personally and I am overwhelmed by how much my mentors have invested in me and encouraged me.
Of course, I know that not all teens have a mentor, think they need a mentor or feel like they know how to find one. Here are a few ideas on how to find a mentor and why you should. As soon as possible. Today.
Most of us consider our parents to be a type of mentor, but to be honest having another adult in your life for advice is just different. Agreed? Not necessarily better or worse but definitely different. And before we get too far into this exactly what is a mentor? Well, it depends on who you ask but I found a great definition on About.com by Katherine Lewis “The mentor definition, according to the dictionary, is a trusted advisor or guide. To me, a mentor is someone who is helping you with your career, specific work projects or general life advice out of the goodness of his or her heart.”
Don’t think that just because you are in high school or college and don’t have a career yet that you can’t benefit from a mentor! The truth is that everyone, at just about any stage of life, benefits from having someone they trust give them advice and help when they face difficult or confusing circumstances.
Last year, at FinCon14, I participated in the One-On-One Mentoring program. It pairs up an experienced blogger with one that is new. Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less was my mentor for the day. Ruth was great and so encouraging. She told me some very specific things that I needed to do if I wanted to turn my project into a real business. Some of those things were a little hard to hear. Once I got home I started working on all of those things and eventually completed almost every thing she told me to do. Because I followed her advice I am working almost full time on my business now. I am convinced that wouldn’t have happened without Ruth.
Ruth also gave me the opportunity to guest post on her site (which was an amazing opportunity) and has continued to offer me advice throughout this year. It’s been a great experience for me and I am so grateful!
This year, at FinCon15 I was paired with a different mentor. I already knew Steve Stewart of Money Plan SOS because he interviewed me on his very popular podcast back in January of 2014. I was really impressed by the professionalism Steve showed when he interviewed me and I immediately started trying to be more like him when I interviewed people. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I found out he would be my mentor this year!
Where Ruth gave me practical steps on improving my website and things to do, Steve got me thinking in a whole new way. He is helping me see where my business is leading and think through more carefully where I want it to take me. After meeting with him for several hours I have a whole new take on my business and my life. He has even offered to meet with me for a followup call to continue helping me!
The bottom line is that most of us would benefit from having a mentor. There are several things to keep in mind when considering how to find a mentor:
- Do not ask a complete stranger. Look to current friends or acquaintances or even business associates of your parents. A stranger really has no reason to help you whereas someone you already know will probably be much more open to you.
- Find someone who has the skills you know you need. My brother is a great example of this. When he graduated from college he couldn’t find a job in his field but he did have the opportunity to work with a man he respected and who had managerial skills and leadership abilities my brother knew he needed. Although it wasn’t my brother’s dream job it turned out to be a great experience because he was working with someone he really looked up to, admired and could learn from.
- Be a decent person. If you are asking someone to take their time with you then show up to meetings on time, be prepared, and don’t be too demanding. Find a way to make it worth their time.
- Do not wait for them to call you or reach out to you. You need to pursue them. At the same time do not pester them until they are sick of you! Ask if they prefer a phone call, text or email and communicate with them in their preferred manner.
The mentors I have had in my life have made all the difference in the world. When I followed Ruth’s advice my business more than tripled after implementing what she told me to do. After meeting with Steve I finally feel like I have a handle on where I am headed in life and what I want to make of my business. I may not reach all of my goals but at least I know what they are and can now make better decisions to get me there. It’s important to remember that mentors do this out of the goodness of their heart. They want to invest in someone with less experience and share what they know. Amazing!
Do you have a mentor or someone that could be a great mentor in your life? How did you find them and how did it work out? I would love to hear your story!