If you are a startup founder you have already been assigned a mentor, you have either benefited or even come to hate them.
Mentors are all around us and not confined to just startup life. Your friends are or could be your mentors but generally, I would say that your mentors are people who encourage you, enable you and help you to achieve your goals.
I have had many mentors in my life, both in my startup life and personal life. However, some of them take top places. In the next few blogs I want to speak of each and every one of them. A way of thanking them but also a way of passing these qualities on to you, if you happen to be reading.
The first of them is not my father but my surrogate father, Joseph Camera. I was sent away when I was 11 or 12 to France by my parents during the Iran / Iraq war in order to avoid being called up for military service. At that age I could still leave the country legally. Long story, but this is how I ended up living with a surrogate family rather than my own.
Back to Joseph or Joe as we called him at home. Leaving everything behind, your parents, country, friends, the comfort zone, etc even under the most luxurious circumstances is never easy. At to this the hormones of a coming to age teenager and you have fire. I was not a difficult child but I know I did not make it easy for Joe either. Yet Joe and the rest of the family went out of their way to make me feel part of the family. I remember many situations where I was out of order and even disrespectful. There were things that I did not want to do as a family, places I did not want to go as a family, and work I did not want to do as a family. There were many situations where we would come head to head in disagreements. Yet he was always calm. Always willing to accomodate and include some of my wishes.
So what has this got to do with mentoring?
Fast forward to 2010. This is the year I met my current partner, Alexandra. She already had a son from her previous relationship. Emilio at that time 7 turning 8 came to live with me or us. At this time I was already 40 and as is expected with children we encountered many undesirable situations. I did not handle all of them the way I would have wished in a calm manner, but in most and I say in most, I always thought back about how Joe treated me. What he would have done or said if he was in my situation?
Joe was a role model mentor for me. He showed me and taught me by setting examples. He showed me and proved to me that there are different ways that we can handle situations and communicate.
Today, I cherish those years and remember them with love. I am still in touch with Joe and all the family and every time I come across a situation I ask myself how would have Joe handled it.
Mentors are all around you. In the case of Joe he always enabled me and by enabling me, the obstacle was removed. I had no further objection nothing to fight against. This is one of the highest qualities in a mentor I cherish.
Far too often I sit with other mentors or judges in startup competitions listening to how they slash or cut to pieces startup projects and the entrepreneurs and I think to myself, “ This is not how Joe would have done it.” Of course, you need to be honest and let the startup founders know what works and what might not work. Yet what I watch in bewilderment is often similar to something like a Viking movie where judges and mentors are encouraged to act barbarically. They are told to be ruthless and tell the truth. The advice comes dashing out at such ferocious speed that the entrepreneurs are often laid bare naked with little will left to continue.
Today as I have been mentoring startups for the past four years, one of my fundamental factors for judging and mentoring startups is based on what I learnt from Joe. How can I find the obstacles that would enable those startups and founders.
Feeling stuck and not knowing what to do next? Book a call with me or connect with me via Linkedin. I have mentored hundreds of startup founders and many have gone to close their funding rounds and start successful startups.