Mentors: How the hell do you find them?


The value of a good mentor has been pretty well document. A quick search on google will give you articles such as:

In fact place like HBR are now suggesting that you gather a mastermind group. So the challenge is upped a little further in finding the people. The problem is, I don’t even know where to start.

Let’s list that standard challenges, time, distance and life. We all have them and I’m no different. I commute about 3 hours a day (90 minutes both ways). I have a family and currently a foster dog. Time is certainly at a premium.

I can say there are things I want to achieve and I am working consistently towards them. I certainly actively seek to continue growing at every opportunity.

To be honest, I’m trying to hang on and support my team as best I can. I’m not sure I’m succeeding, but I will get there.

I love the idea of having a mentor. Problematically, I don’t even know how I would help such a person help me or where to find them.

I go to weekly meetup with some great guys who have a real depth of knowledge and they have helped me more than they realise. Likewise this coalition has been a haven for support. I still can’t quite express the gratitude I feel for the space. I share openly here and the input others blesses me greatly.

I am even actively trying to catch up with a friend who moved on from my workplace because I think he is a pretty awesome guy and I really respect his insight and friendship. The relationship though is one of equals though and I wouldn’t threaten that friendship by imposing the mentor/mentee relationship on him.

So I am not without help and support, but I couldn’t nominate any of my network as a mentor specifically. I do have people that I go to (if you are reading this you are amongst them).

A few questions really stand out:

  • Do you have a person(s) that you can call a mentor?
  • How did you meet them? How did you move into the mentor/mentee relationship?
  • Did you specifically seek them out?
  • Where the heck do you even begin?
  • How do you find space to connect properly and not just “fit them in” and “tick boxes”?
  • How do you even know what you want from a mentor relationship and where do you begin defining it?

I admit, I am clueless and appreciate any clues that can be given.


I’ve been VERY lucky on this front… mentors chose me at very critical moments in my career and opened my eyes to my potential (or what was holding me back). Because of this, I gained an understanding of the mentor/mentee relationships and have in recent years started to “pay-it-forward”.

I have co-workers that see me mentor someone in the company for 6 months and comment that they never had a mentor (with sadness) when they most needed it. They can see the value and impact that it has. This is why one of my rules for engaging someone as a mentor is they promise to "pay it forward’ some day when they recognize the chance and are mature enough to take the responsibility. Even if only a few do this, then I’ve created a growing net of mentors (as mine did).

As for finding one? Find someone you admire with skills you desire and approach them about it! Ask them for 6 months of time, meeting over lunch every other week. Promise them that you will come to lunch with a topic or question (no homework for them) and that you want to pick their brain on the fly about it. Promise that in 6 months you’ll both re-evaluate the relationship and either have the right to end it for any reason. Discuss the ground rules for trust, confidentiality, etc. This structure will help people say yes (investment limited and timeboxed), and provide a structure to work within. (also discuss how lunch is paid for, be careful of your relationship rules)

I’m oversimplifying my experiences here, but if anyone has questions, I can try to respond to them. I’m also interested in other people’s experiences as my role/career keeps evolving and my current approach to this needs to also.