Season 4 – epiBLOG 21:
Happy Thanksgiving and happy short work week! There are so many things that I’m grateful for! Outside of my wonderful family, friends, former students, clients, and health, I’m grateful for being a full time writer and being able to share information with all of you to help you to live out your goals and dreams as entrepreneurial artists just as you desire to.
Well, as promised, this is the second post in our three-part series regarding: (1) accountability partners, (2) mentors, and (3) having a mastermind group.
Today’s topic is on how to find, or pinpoint, a mentor and how to “apply” the knowledge that you learn from a mentor to your career.
Some people are under the impression that a mentor is simply somebody that sits around telling you what to do, and all of a sudden, you have this magical career. Uh-uh. That is not how a mentor works. Not even close. You’re not a robot. You’re human. You have the capabilities of thinking for yourself, learning, processing information, and making choices.
Just like you chose your career, you get to choose your mentor. You get to choose whether to take advice from a mentor or not. You are in control of your artistic career even with a mentor. Keep in mind, because you are in control of your career, the responsibilities of your actions fall on your shoulders no matter what the outcome. You don’t get to use your mentor as a scapegoat when things don’t work out exactly the way you had envisioned them to.
WHAT A MENTOR IS NOT:
–Someone who dictates your career options to you
–Someone who bosses you around
–Someone you take orders from
–Someone for you to pass along your career responsibilities to
–Someone to take advantage of maliciously and/or use for your gain
–A career coach
WHAT A MENTOR IS:
–Someone to guide, direct, and compliment your career
–Someone who is already experienced and successful in the area/field that you’re looking to be successful in
–Someone to be able to ask questions of and bounce ideas off of in order to move forward
–Someone to redirect you when you get off course from where you want to be
Obviously a mentor can have a variety of definitions based upon who you ask. I’ve had a few mentors throughout my career. If it wasn’t for my mentor in the film industry, I would’ve never produced and directed my own feature-length film.
After countless rejections by Hollywood literary agents, directors, and producers, I decided that I wanted to produce and direct one of my own feature film scripts (Running on Empty Dreams) that I had written. After making this decision, I started to seek out investors in order to fund my film. However, nobody was “biting.” I went to my mentor and asked what I could do because I felt lost. He advised me to pull scenes from my script and to shoot a trailer with those scenes. He spoke honestly with me and told me that “nobody believes that you can do this.” He went on to say, “You have to prove to everyone that you can.”
I took his advice, our cast and crew won two Telly Awards on the trailers that we created, and we ended up getting the funding for my film less than a year later. The film ended up winning a third Telly Award after the entire film was produced. There are definitely more details that went into that entire process, but this is a fair summation.
When you are looking for a mentor, you want to first seek out the people who are already in your life doing what you want to be doing –successfully. You may not have to formally ask if they can be your mentor because the nature of your business relationship might’ve already evolved to such a level.
My mentor was originally a producer who hired me to write for him and to work on his film sets. I started going to him for advice without making a formal declaration that he was my mentor, even though that is exactly who he was to me.
However, if you want to “ask and confirm” someone with the mentor title who is already in your life — successfully achieving milestones within their career that you would like to achieve, by all means, ask. Be respectful and thankful of their time and knowledge, and move forward.
If you don’t have anyone in your life who is already successful in the area that you’re looking to be successful in, mentors come in many different “packages.” You can seek out mentors by simply following and/or connecting with people on social media, attending events, attending networking groups, and building business relationships with these people.
In the process of building business relationships, let them know that you are looking for a mentor, let them know what you’re wanting to accomplish with your career, and ask them if they would be willing to be your mentor. Being upfront and authentic always works out best with the best people.
In preparation for such a conversation, you want to be prepared with what a mentor/mentee relationship would look like so that you can share with your potential mentor what sort of time commitment that you would expect of them. Remember, you’re asking someone to offer you advice in their free time out of the kindness of their hearts. Be respectful of who they are, of their time, and once you actually have them as your mentor, let them know what you are doing with the advice that they are providing you. Mentors only want to help serious people who are genuinely wanting to move their careers forward and/or help with moving their endeavors forward. Finding a mentor like this is unorthodox, but possible because at the end of the day, it’s about connecting with people and building relationships.
You can also have mentors from authors of self-help books, audio books, etc. If they are providing advice and you’re taking it, they become your mentor. Don’t get caught up in what a mentor looks like. Just make sure that you’re getting what you need to move forward in the most effective, ethical, and authentic way.
Today’s LESSON is to know when to listen to and when to apply the knowledge and wisdom of another individual who can help move you forward.
FUN ASSIGNMENT: First, write down a list of people who are already in your life and are successful within the career, or a similar path, that you’ve chosen. Secondly, write down a list of people who you’re connected with on social media or who you may simply be business acquaintances with that are successful in their respective fields, and research them. Determine the ones who you would like to consider to be your mentor, and write a list of those people down. After you’ve compiled both lists, begin to contact individuals by email or phone until you find the person who is not only willing to mentor you, but one who you feel would be a great fit for you. Remember, a “mentor” is NOT a “coach.” A mentor’s purpose is not meant to motivate you and to work for you. They are people who provide advice based on successful, proven experience in their own lives.