This bonus episode for our Tim Stratton interview digs deeper into finding a mentor. First, we look at what makes a good mentor relationship.  This is a situation where all parties need to contribute to the goals and receive benefits.  Thus, the focus is on the relationship itself and what to look for when you desire a mentor.

Finding A Mentor Organically

There is an industry out there of people that advertise being a mentor.  They even have processes and cookie-cutter approaches in some cases.  This may help, but I do not see it as a true mentorship.  Finding a mentor is not like finding a plumber.  You do want someone you can trust.  However, many other factors go into being a true mentor.

Similar Interests Or Goals

The primary objective in finding a match should be similar goals or interests.  This is someone you want to emulate.  Therefore, they should have a path you can relate to and a destination you also want to reach.  Beware of a mentor that has goals or achievements that are only tangential to your path.  They can still be useful, but the closer they align with your goals, the better. For example, a player that wants to be a basketball star can benefit in some ways from a hockey star, but not as much as from a basketball star.  Know the areas where your mentor is similar and different.

Listen and Then Act

The goal of most mentors is to provide useful knowledge.  They want you to act on what you are taught and become better in those skills.  That is how they know it is useful.  If you never take action, then the utility of the knowledge will never be known.  The goal is not to fill your head with trivia.  Instead, they want to provide you with stepping stones for your career climb.  That means you need to plan actions based on what comes out of mentor sessions.  Absorbing is not enough.  Take the lessons learned to heart and apply them sooner rather than later before you forget what you were taught.


Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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