3 Things you need to do to get a high-level mentor
Hey there! I’m Raika, a Senior UX and Conversation Designer at Amazon. If you’re new here, welcome! You can subscribe to my Secrets to Great UX Design newsletter for weekly insights. I share actionable ways to create great experiences, grow your career and more… for designers and non-designers.
Before I dive in, I want to make a quick case for mentors. The right mentor can change your career. Here’s my current thought:
The world would be a better place if we all had a mentor (and were mentoring).
There’s even data to prove it.
People who served as mentors experienced lower levels of anxiety and described their job as more meaningful than those who did not mentor [HBR]
Mentors found that mentoring enhanced the meaningfulness of their work [HBR]
Finding a mentor vs a high-level mentor are two different things. Finding a high-level mentor, is both a science and an art.
Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to have had some really great mentors. Both formally and informally.
If I were to attribute it to one thing, it’d be having the courage to approach people with a curious and focused mindset.
After all, people want to help people.
But a high-level mentor is likely constrained on time. So, here are 3 things I did:
#1 – I had a clear ask
I knew my why.
I put in the time to get really clear on what and why I was looking for a mentor.
Generic goals and questions are going to get you generic results.
I didn’t ask for “career advice”. I got specific.
Was I looking for coaching on how to frame my experience? How to switch from an individual contributor to manager?
What about that person’s experience did I want to learn about? What about their experience made them a good resource for me?
I put in the time to get crystal clear on what my needs and asks were and why I was seeking help from this person.
#2 – I focused on quality over quantity
For the initial conversation, I started with one core question to ask them.
This is so important - when I reached out, I shared what it is I was looking for and why I was asking them specifically.
I made my message short and sweet but impactful.
I told them my question and said I would like to pick their brain for 10 minutes. Then as we talked through it I could see if there’s chemistry.
I treated it like any meeting, I shared my agenda before hand. Had an allotted amount of time to manage. And I took notes.
#3 – I came prepared
Knowledge needs experience to be really powerful.
What had I already tried? What did I find when I googled my question? What had I read, watched or listened to on the topic?
Reddit, Google, ChatGPT, Youtube, TikTok, Substack… there are so many platforms out there with a wealth of knowledge. I used them to prepare so I could ask more informed, deeper questions.
That way I could ask questions like: “what’s your take on approach X?”, “When I tried X, Y happened instead of Z. What am I missing?”, “Have you found Y to be true?” and so on.
The more preparation I did, the more valuable and fruitful the conversations were.
All of this really boils down to being respectful of their time.
And remember, a good mentor relationship is not talking all about yourself and asking for advice.
Kobe Bryant put it perfectly:
“We’re surrounded by people who do incredible things, and the information is right there for us to learn from.”
Ask good questions. Take time to find out what they did. And make it a mutually beneficial dynamic.
The beauty of an authentic relationship is its reciprocity.
So get on out there. Talk to everyone! See who you click with. Get to know people and their journey. The best mentor relationships develop naturally.
Next week I’ll share how to be a high-level mentor. If you aren’t already, subscribe to receive it straight to your inbox!
Favorite Quote and Photo of the Week
"A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you." — Bob Proctor, Author
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That’s it for today. Thanks for reading!
Until next week,