What makes a great mentor?
Often, when we think about a mentor, we ignore what it took for them to get to a place to be able to offer mentorship. Most of the time, mentors are still seeking advice from others as well. I sat down with Gregarious Narain, an entrepreneur and founder, having founded more than a dozen companies within the last 25 years, to ask about mentorship in his life.
Greg’s current company, Fanbase, offers creators and influencers the first CRM designed for their audience. Previously, he co-founded Chute, a user- and influencer- generated content platform. Prior to Chute, Greg was the first employee and V.P Product at Klout. Here are three lessons in mentorship to share with your teams.
Goldie Chan: How has mentorship positively impacted you?
Gregarious Narain: Mentorship has served me in two important ways.
First, and most importantly, it's provided an opportunity for me to not only share from my own experiences but to also learn from them. In spite of all the experiences I have had in my own life, it's not until I have had the chance to make them useful for someone else that I truly value and appreciate them.
Second, it's been a source of inspiration. Entrepreneurship is a long, often thankless journey, and as I was transitioning out of my last company, it's allowed me to re-connect with both new founders and ideas. This refuels both my passion and ingenuity.
Chan: Why do you believe in being both a mentor and mentee?
Narain: We're never done learning and the best way to learn is to teach. Every day, there's a chance to see something from a new or different perspective - transforming something new or ordinary into something special or significant. This makes us all mentees in the world.
At the same time, as a mentor, you have an opportunity to leverage your hard-won experience in new ways. Too often, we take for granted what we know and a good mentee can draw them out.
Chan: What is the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? When do you need one over the other?
Narain: Both are individuals with experience, but I believe that there is an important distinction. Mentors leverage their experience to advise their mentees. On the other hand, sponsors are more actively engaged in advocating and creating opportunities for those they sponsor. In my experience, these roles need not be mutually exclusive, but it's important to understand the nature of the relationship at its onset and as it evolves.
Having a mentor is an important part of any strong career. Looking for a proper mentor fit as well as always continuing to learn from others will help you to rise higher in the ranks.