In preparing for your mentor meeting, begin to do your homework on the individual. Learn about their strengths, expertise, and career path. Use the information to gain a snapshot of the mentor's entrepreneurial journey and understand who they are as a person. Use the following prompts to prepare for your mentor meeting and build questions that will optimize their skills and make the best use of everyone’s time.
Too often, entrepreneurs waste time talking about the nuances of their company or pitching rather than getting to the center of their problem and listening.
Before a mentor meeting, make sure you can clearly articulate what your company or product does in under one minute, and understand the areas you need help in to move the company forward.
Write a list of problems you need help with today. Then, make a list of at least three things you want to learn about from this particular mentor (see below).
Instructions: Your task is to clearly articulate a minimum of three questions to ask the mentor. Have each team member do this individually and then review your answers together. Look for threads in your inquiries before you determine your big three; additional questions can live in the Additional Questions field below.
Remember that what you need may not necessarily align with their vertical, but they can speak to other aspects of building and running a great company.
|I want to ask my mentor:|
If you have one or more team members attending, decide beforehand who will address and answer particular aspects of your business. Teams need to find their rhythm and determine what works best for their company.
Use the form below to determine who will attend the meeting, each person’s role and what kind of questions they’ll ask and answer. Remember to designate someone as the chief note taker.
|Team Member||Will ask/field questions about:||Note Taker|
During your mentor meeting, you can tell a lot about the level of engagement from their non-verbal behavior. Here are some examples of non-verbal signs to watch:
Signs of Engagement
Signs of Disengagement
Have each team member write down the non-verbal behaviors observed with each mentor and when each happened during the meeting. What can you learn from how the team interacted with the mentor?
Before you meet with your mentor, run through this checklist to make sure your team is well-prepared for your conversation and gain insight and value from the meeting:
|...has researched the mentor and have a complete snapshot of their entrepreneurial journey.||Y N|
|...can quickly articulate the purpose and mission of their business or product.||Y N|
|...can provide a brief demo of the product/service.||Y N|
|...has a list of challenges the company would like to address.||Y N|
|...has a list of questions to ask the mentor within each challenge.||Y N|
|...knows who will be leading the conversation.||Y N|
|...knows who will be speaking and responding to particular topics.||Y N|
|...knows who will be taking notes.||Y N|
|...has a strategy to keep the conversation on track.||Y N|
|...has a strategy if the mentor seems to disengage.||Y N|
|...has a follow-up plan.||Y N|
Immediately following a mentor meeting, it’s important to capture feedback, advice, and the flow of communication between the team and mentor. Use these prompts to quickly reflect on the meeting and takeaways.
Describe the chemistry between the team and mentor:
Did you mentor seem engaged or disengaged? Describe their non-verbal behavior:
What were the top 3 things you took away from the meeting?
The feedback from mentor meetings can get overwhelming, especially when you meet with many mentors over a short period of time. The key is to pick out the important pieces of feedback and take action.
Pull the team together around a whiteboard
Draw the column headers for the Mentor Meeting Reflection Canvas below on a whiteboard (remember to use a dry erase marker for this part)
Give each member of the team their own color of Post-Its
Make sure everyone has a Sharpie
Instructions: Each team member is to complete each item on the canvas individually by writing their response to each prompt (Facts, Emotions, Learning, and Advice) on a sticky note and placing it near the prompt itself. The group works on these prompts one item at a time. Discuss team member inputs for each prompt before moving on to the next. Take a look at the example that follows and then give it a shot as a team.
What were the key facts or data that came out of your mentor meetings? Have each member of the team identify the facts and data that stood out. Compare what each team member said versus the notes taken during the meeting.
Next, go through the key facts/data point and ask yourself: what emotion do I associate with this fact? Write down your emotions next to the key facts (listed below).
What learnings came out of the mentor meeting? Go through the facts and emotions and note areas where you have learnings from the experience. Have each person contribute learnings next to the emotions (listed below).
Given these learnings, emotions, and facts presented during the mentor meeting, what advice would you give yourself? Write down your advice. This may be advice about your business or suggestions for the next mentor meeting.
Based on the learnings, emotions and advice, take the time to discuss and identify the most important pieces of advice that can help change the trajectory of your company & the next mentor meetings. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Pick 1 to 3 key decisions that you want to turn into action.
It’s important to follow-up with each mentor within 24 hours, really. If following up via email remember to include the following:
Thanking them for time and advice
Mention something specific in your communication that was particularly helpful
Summarize their advice given and how the team plans to use that advice forward
Respond to any unanswered question(s)
Ask any follow-up questions