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Making the most out of your mentors

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I give this talk to startups before Startupbootcamp Selection Days, where they'll meet over 50 mentors during 2 intense days. Most of the content comes directly from startups and mentors, who make the suggestions to help others get the most out of their experience. I have also found many of these tips are applicable when pitching VCs or angel investors.

Published in: Business
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Making the most out of your mentors

  1. 1. MAKING THE MOST BY ANDY SHANNON HEAD OF STARTUPBOOTCAMP GLOBAL OUT OF YOUR MENTORS
  2. 2. Hi, I’m Andy @atshannon1 You can tweet me questions
  3. 3. Background ○ Startups ○ MBA ○ Investing ○ Accelerators Startupbootcamp ○ Head of Global ■ Programs ■ Expansion ■ Global About me That's me! My wife, Tara
  4. 4. You'll meet tons of mentors during the program...
  5. 5. You'll meet tons of mentors during the program... What do you want to achieve from mentor sessions?
  6. 6. How I RANK mentor usefulness
  7. 7. How I RANK mentor usefulness 5. Opinions a. Only one datapoint, deeper in industry = mind closed
  8. 8. How I RANK mentor usefulness 1. Trusted advisors a. A startup’s TRUE secret sauce
  9. 9. How I RANK mentor usefulness 1. Trusted advisors a. A startup’s TRUE secret sauce 2. Connections a. Intros to investors, partners, users, press, etc 3. Funds a. Buys time to discover a sustainable business model 4. Case studies a. Relatable, memorable, but never fully applicable 5. Opinions a. Only one datapoint, deeper in industry = mind closed
  10. 10. You prepare for interviews
  11. 11. You prepare for interviews Do you prep for mentorship? (most don’t)
  12. 12. Most of us prep for interviews 1) What topics are difficult for you? 2) How should the conversation flow? 3) Who is your perfect mentor?
  13. 13. What topics are difficult for you?
  14. 14. You WILL run into tough topics Why is your team so young? Isn’t your IP about to expire? You’ve been doing this 3 years? Doesn’t this market seem small? You don’t have a tech founder? SO PRACTICE THEM!!!
  15. 15. How should the conversation flow? (who’s leading your conversation?)
  16. 16. Your optimal conversation flow? PRACTICE ‘POLITICAL PIVOTS’ (steer your story like Bill)
  17. 17. Identify your optimal mentorWho is your perfect mentor?
  18. 18. “View every situation with a beginners mind” Identify your perfect mentor (not a last page of book mentor)
  19. 19. Trusted advisor Difficult topics? Political pivots Beginners mind Quick recap
  20. 20. “A beginners mind has many possibilities... Shunru Suzuki Buddhist Zen Monk
  21. 21. … but an expert’s mind has few” “A beginners mind has many possibilities... Shunru Suzuki Buddhist Zen Monk
  22. 22. They… Are ‘always’ right Think you will die Won’t ‘friend’ you (some) Mentors can be difficult
  23. 23. They… Are ‘always’ right Think you will die Won’t ‘friend’ you (some) Mentors can be difficult
  24. 24. Mentors make suggestions "You'd be silly <not> to do <this>"
  25. 25. Mentors make suggestions "You should focus on <sales, BD, etc>”
  26. 26. Mentors make suggestions "You need an <inhouse/outsourced> dev team
  27. 27. “YOU NEED AN OUTSOURCED DEV TEAM!”
  28. 28. What can you do with this type of mentor?
  29. 29. Turn opinions into case studies
  30. 30. Turn opinions into case studies WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT <TOPIC>?
  31. 31. Turn opinions into case studies HOW WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT THIS DECISION?
  32. 32. Turn opinions into case studies WHAT WOULD YOU WORRY ABOUT MOST IF YOU INVESTED?
  33. 33. Aggregate feedback 1. ASK SAME QUESTION 2. WRITE ANSWER 3. COMPARE REPLIES
  34. 34. Aggregate feedback Mentor whiplash is real! (Don’t take single data points)
  35. 35. Aggregate feedback (expanded) 1) Listen (with discounts) 2) Aggregate in a single sheet 3) Debate with your team 4) Get real customer feedback 5) Leader follows their gut
  36. 36. Every suggestion = customer service *Best Practice 1) Acknowledge 2) Thank 3) Clarify 4) Digest 5) Respond with action
  37. 37. There’s no template for success (scoring from midfield often?)
  38. 38. There’s no template for success *Best Practice UNDERSTAND WHY THE ADVICE WORKED IN 1 SITUATION Sam Gerstenzang (A16Z)
  39. 39. They… Are ‘always’ right Think you will die Won’t ‘friend’ you (some) Mentors can be difficult
  40. 40. "THAT’S BEEN DONE BEFORE" (Frequent mentor feedback)
  41. 41. "GOOGLE WILL KILL YOU" (Frequent mentor feedback)
  42. 42. “GOOGLE WILL KILL YOU”
  43. 43. Arrows make you uncomfortable?
  44. 44. Colin Farrell (He’s deep…) “Every feeling of discomfort is a moment to be decoded”
  45. 45. "All progress takes place outside your comfort zone.” Seth Godin
  46. 46. Comfort Zone You What to do? Seth Godin
  47. 47. “SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN BE UNDERSTOOD” 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  48. 48. Rejection = - Subjective - An Opinion - Chance to learn
  49. 49. Start with your non-verbal a little too open…?
  50. 50. Start with your non-verbal 1) Lean in 2) Open posture 3) Customer Service
  51. 51. Go DEEP into core concern 1) Why? 2) Why? 3) Why? 4) Why? 5) Why? ?
  52. 52. - Are ‘always’ right - Case Study - Customer Service - No Template - Think you will die - Discomfort = Learn - Nonverbal - Go Deep (some) Mentors can be difficult
  53. 53. Half way point! @atshannon1 (Andy to check questions)
  54. 54. They… Are ‘always’ right Think you will die Won’t ‘friend’ you (some) Mentors can be difficult
  55. 55. What’s the point of all this?
  56. 56. What’s the point of all this? To raise your chance of CONNECTING with someone
  57. 57. Raise your chance of connecting? “Teach your Hustle Muscle” - Jamie Foxx (here’s a few ways to do so...)
  58. 58. KNOW thy mentor
  59. 59. KNOW thy mentor Put time into researching mentors
  60. 60. KNOW thy mentor Research a personal touch
  61. 61. Prime them ● V1.0 (basic) ○ Tweet them ○ Linkedin connect them ○ Blog about them ○ Comment on their blog ○ Mail them a letter ● V2.0 (What Kim does) ○ Unsolicited recommendations ○ They look forward to meeting her
  62. 62. Know your STRUGGLES (Your biggest roadblocks?)
  63. 63. Know your STRUGGLES (Prepare Qs based on struggles)
  64. 64. Know your STRUGGLES (Everything is great?)
  65. 65. (Difficulties = Fighting = Inspiring) Know your STRUGGLES
  66. 66. (show dynamics + misinterpret) Bring at least TWO
  67. 67. Assign a QUARTERBACK
  68. 68. Assign a QUARTERBACK Don’t hog the ball! (Impress with the team)
  69. 69. Take notes BY HAND
  70. 70. Is Obama listening to you?
  71. 71. Obama’s on Twitter!!!
  72. 72. This is Obama engaging (Obama remembers with paper)
  73. 73. This is Obama being open (body + mind) (90% nonverbal)
  74. 74. You don’t know? House doesn’t know
  75. 75. You don’t know? Ken doesn’t know
  76. 76. You don’t know? How will you learn FAST? Only way to learn = start with ‘I don’t know’
  77. 77. Follow up AN EASY LAYUP!!! (Mistake: too late, not personal)
  78. 78. Keep in touch it’s a lot harder (updates/newsletter over time)
  79. 79. Know thy mentor Prime them Know your struggles Bring at least two Take notes by hand Customer discovery You don't know Know your numbers Assign a quarterback Aggregate feedback Follow up In Summary (remember a few?)
  80. 80. They… Are ‘always’ right Think you will die Won’t ‘friend’ you (some) Mentors can be difficult
  81. 81. They still won’t friend you? - Honesty - Struggles (help) - Empathy (favor) (some) Mentors can be difficult
  82. 82. Today’s top takeaway
  83. 83. Today’s top takeaway SUCCESS IS ABOUT BEING PROACTIVE
  84. 84. Today’s top takeaway HAVE A GOAL. DIE TRYING. Karl Marx
  85. 85. Today’s top takeaway I’ll leave you with a few quotes... Karl Marx
  86. 86. Consensus is the DEATH of startups Committee approves decisions = … compromise … average … innovation dies Conviction > Consensus
  87. 87. “Measure only if it helps make informed actions” - Seth Godin
  88. 88. Experts are today Stand Out
  89. 89. “If success was based on past indicators... LIBRARIANS WOULD BE RICH - Warren Buffett (Disrupt those who can’t look into the future) Experts are today
  90. 90. “It's the calls you MAKE, not the calls you take” - Kathryn Gould (first woman VC) (Insanely busy ‘responder’?)
  91. 91. THANKS FOR LISTENING!
  92. 92. Questions? Suggestions? @atshannon1 (Tweet to remind me about deck)

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