The maker community is founded on the principle of shared knowledge. Makers constantly have to adapt to new environments in order to remain viable in such a competitive marketplace, and a major part of that is learning new skills. Therefore, makers frequently share their experiences and work together on their goals, whether those goals are to achieve financial independence or finish a product. This has given birth to a culture of mentorship where makers develop close connections with others who can help them so that they can build their experience and become a better maker.
Mentorship has become a critical way for makers to acquire new skills, and better understand how to adapt to changing consumer demands, and the transition to a different work landscape. In addition, having a mentor allows makers to stay accountable, share their experiences, and benefit from the experience that their mentor has. However, constructing a mentorship relationship can be a time-consuming process, and for new makers, it can be difficult to reach out to the people they want to become their mentor.
As you progress through your unique path in life, you will face many challenges and have to overcome significant hurdles in order to achieve happiness. Mentors can help you address these issues and guide you towards the best ways to achieve success. This article will cover how to find a mentor, the importance of having a mentor, and why you should consider being a mentor too.
The importance of a mentor
Mentorship relationships are a two-way street, and the time you invest in a mentor will produce immediate results. It is incredibly valuable to have a mentor who sticks with you along your unique journey, and with whom you can share your experiences with and help through their lives. Being a maker requires that you spend time learning about all areas of product development, from design to engineering. Many people are scared of venturing out of their main area of expertise or do not have the confidence to try something so new that they have no prior experience with.
This is where having a mentor can be particularly useful. One of the most important benefits of having a mentor is that they can help you come out of your comfort zone and explore new ideas and concepts. They can encourage you to learn new things, try a different approach to a problem, and adapt to changes in the way we work. This not only allows makers to expand their intelligence but also can help them develop their confidence and become more comfortable with trying new things. According to Mentor Cruise, a popular mentorship platform for people in tech and business, 40% of their users want a mentor to enhance or develop a new skill.
The best mentors are those who there to support you whenever you need it and become personally invested in your success over time. Whenever you have to make a big decision in life, a mentor will be able to provide counsel throughout the process based on their experience with you, then guide you towards making the best decision. Whenever you are suffering a setback and do not know what your next steps are, a mentor can help you to put things into perspective and help you understand how to proceed. The impact a mentor has on you will increase as you continue to share information and experiences, and become more in-tune with each other’s thought process.
In addition, mentors can see where you need to improve and offer constructive feedback on how to move forward. Many makers try to build products in a vacuum, which can cause their product to not meet the true needs of their target customer, or to be influenced solely on personal thoughts, rather than market research. Mentors can allow you to overcome this and can become a person who you can reach out to for product advice, and provide honest and actionable feedback on how you can improve your product.
Mentors will also become familiar with the specific intricacies of your product, and be able to provide you with an outside opinion as you continue to develop your product. As you continue to share information with your mentor, they can offer better advice and help you avoid making common mistakes that they have experienced, potentially saving you time and energy in the future. This culture of talking about your product throughout the development stage with your mentor also allows you to better refine your thoughts and develop a clearer pitch with the help of your mentor, which can make it easier to market your product in the future.
“Being a maker means being able to best leverage resources to build, grow, and sustain your product in an efficient way. Having a mentor is one of the best ways to quickly progress towards these goals by acquiring useful knowledge that can immediately be put into practice. A mentor could also help you avoid costly mistakes.” – Anne-Laure Le Cunff, Founder of Maker Mag.
Treat your mentor as an accountability partner – someone who can keep you in check. Having a mentor prompts you into sharing progress updates with someone which allows you to track your progress over time, and identify the areas where you need support. Your mentor will be there to evaluate your progress updates, address any of your concerns, and try their best to help you overcome the barriers to success.
Accountability also creates more involvement around your product and means that your mentor can gain a firmer understanding of what you are working on, thus making it easier for them to provide more helpful advice in the future. Staying accountable with a mentor also creates a forum where you can share your challenges and explore them in more depth, then break them down into smaller, more addressable components. This makes it easier to understand the issues you are facing in more depth and by breaking them down into smaller tasks, you are able to make your obstacles appear smaller.
Perhaps the most important part of having a mentor is the emotional support that they can provide for you. A mentorship relationship is built on a bond of trust, and the best relationships target both the personal and professional aspects of the lives of the mentor and the mentee. Your mentor will be there to help you maintain a clear mind and stay on task, and will also ensure that you are your most healthy and productive self.
Often times, mentors are able to share their own personal experiences of any mental issues, which can help you put your issue into perspective and better address any issues that you are facing.
Why people become mentors
As aforementioned, the best mentor-mentee relationships are two-way. Being a mentor allows you to influence the success of another person, and presents an opportunity to share your experience and impart your wisdom on someone else. Mentoring someone can bring immense personal satisfaction because you can have a real and profound impact on another person’s life, all while learning from their experience.
When you invest time in the success of someone else, you have the potential to fundamentally change their way of thinking on certain principles or perhaps even change the direction of their career. The feeling of having a positive impact on someone else’s life is what motivates most people to mentor because it creates an environment where your knowledge and experience can have a noticeable impact and make a difference.
Often times mentees end up becoming an extended member of someone’s family. When you have a mentee, you will get to learn different aspects of each other’s lives, celebrate each other’s wins, and provide advice when someone is at a low point. Mentors end up frequently checking in and feel as if they are an important part of someone’s life, which can make them feel more satisfied, and also help them develop a special relationship with someone based on self-improvement, rather than success.
Being a mentor also allows you to refine your own skills and understand how to best articulate the knowledge that you have to share. You have the opportunity to share your knowledge and understand how it could have an impact on someone’s life, and be able to ask for feedback on how you can improve. Communication and analytical thinking skills can also be developed while mentoring as you can find the best way to showcase your knowledge and maximize the impact of your teachings.
There is also the opportunity to gain new perspectives and be exposed to fresh ideas. Mentoring allows people to step outside of their traditional social circle, and work with someone interesting who can share a different view on the world and different issues. This means that people can not only understand alternative viewpoints but makes it easier for them to embrace difference in society, which can, in turn, help them become a more well-rounded and socially engaged person. Another added benefit is that you can keep up with new trends in the subject matters you are interested in, especially if your mentee is younger than you as they are more likely to be up-to-date on the latest in a particular area.
I have had a mentor for three years, and every time we touch bases, we end up learning something new about a topic we are both interested in. We also get the opportunity to explore the topic in more depth and learn together, which strengthens our mentor-mentee relationship as it makes us both feel as if we are both helping each other. I have been there when he has been making big decisions such as future projects and careers to consider, and he has been there when I have been looking for advice on the direction of my life.
Finally, being a mentor can actually help you change your life. The decision to become someone’s mentor is big because they will see you as someone who represents a higher plateau of knowledge. However, when you make the leap to become a mentor, you will be able to participate in new experiences and challenges with someone else who has the same interests as you. You will remind your mentee (and they will remind you) about what really matters in life, not only with each other’s projects but also in general.
How to find a mentor
One of the most common questions I have heard about mentorship is how does one actually find a mentor. The most common approach I have seen is for people to ask someone to become their mentor, but that method is usually ineffective and often times results in no response. The best way to find a mentor is to spend time cultivating a strong relationship with someone, and if they are willing to mentor you, the nature of your relationship will transition over time.
You can find great mentors by reaching out to inspiring people you know, or someone who you can be introduced to. They should be people who you know you see as knowledgable, and someone with whom you would feel comfortable sharing intimate details about your product. You should start by developing a connection with them based on your shared interests, allowing you to evaluate whether this person would be a good mentor. This is important as it creates the foundation of your future relationship and makes it easier to develop a culture based on mentorship in the future.
The ideal mentor would also have similar and complementary skills to you, which means that they can introduce you to new ideas while being able to help you in the areas that you are already experienced in. For example, if you are an engineer, you should look for someone with engineering experience and knowledge in a different subject matter such as design. This means that you can collaborate with each other on your work and be able to share your knowledge and experience, allowing you to create a two-way relationship.
A two-way relationship is generally more effective as you are constantly learning new things from your mentor, and teaching new things to your mentor, which makes for a more impactful connection. If you spend time developing your mentor-mentee relationship, then you will start to notice that you both take away new things from your discussions. You will end up sharing more with your mentor and also offer support to your mentor when they need it – which is the hallmark of a strong mentor relationship.
Another important consideration is investing time and energy into your relationship. If you are serious about wanting a mentor, then you should be someone who your (future) mentor would like to work with. You should think about whether you are open to new ideas and eager to learn because the best mentors will only work with people who they feel they can help advance on both a personal and professional level.
Moreover, you should try to participate in as many discussions as possible with your mentor, covering a wide range of different subject matters. This not only makes for a more interesting relationship, but it allows you to show your vulnerabilities so that your mentor can identify what you need to work on in the future, and how they can help you learn what you need to know. Volunteer to talk about things that are out of your comfort zone – and you will be surprised with how your relationship changes.
The maker community is naturally a very open and friendly place, meaning that finding and approaching a prospective mentor is easy. If you are struggling to get started, reach out to a friend who has helped you in the past and spend time developing a friendship with them. The internet has made it easier than ever to develop a mentor-mentee relationship with someone because you can contact anyone at your fingertips, and at any time you want. You can actually go find a mentor right now.
Finding a mentor can be a long and enduring process, but the benefits of having a mentor are worth the work. Mentors can help you stay accountable in your work, and become a confidant with whom you can share ideas, as well as personal experiences from your work. As you work with a mentor, they will become more in-tune and informed about your product, and be able to offer thorough and actionable advice which will benefit both you and your product.