Becoming an Effective Mentor


At 39, I am not a young entrant into entrepreneurship. The majority of my career has been spent as an engineer in a subordinate position. I have only light undergraduate business training as a CIS graduate sparse experience running my own business. A few years ago I made the leap and began designing what is today a promising pre-launch start-up. I've managed to get accepted into the Start-up Chile incubator, which leads to my question.

One of the responsibilities of the program is to mentor young entrepreneurs. Truth be told, I am a more likely candidate for mentee than mentor, but as with most things I've accomplished, I plan on flying by the seat and navigating as I go. What I want to avoid is becoming the guy who spews empty platitudes and provide something of value to the best of my capacity.

My question is this:

How would you best define the role of mentor? If you've been a mentor, how would you counsel others to enable and inspire others? If you've had a great mentor, what's a great piece of advice you received? Can anyone recommend some resources on BEING a mentor, not finding one?

Apologies. That was 4 questions.


asked Dec 25 '11 at 06:28
192 points

1 Answer


My 2 cents:

For me being a mentor means showing people what to do and expecting results. Sometimes that's enough as all people need (myself included) is an eye over their shoulder. Stay out of the detail. Help them work on themselves as well as helping them find their own solutions to problems they come up with. (I sometimes go to great lengths to make sure that the person I'm helping comes up with the solution rather than me give it to them).

A mentor is not a life coach, although they can be one. In my book - a mentor tells you what to do, and a life coach will help you when you get stuck mentally. (As any "I can't do it" excuse is just a self limiting belief.. not something a great mentor "cares" about.. although they do care).

In my experience you inspire others by holding themselves accountable to what they have decided, and asking tough questions from the vantage point of seeing the big picture when they're sometimes stuck in detail.

But at the end of the day, what makes a great mentor? A great student.

answered Dec 25 '11 at 07:54
1,072 points
  • like you said... your view. – Sunil 12 years ago

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