Do You Have a Mentor?

I came across the blog of a young woman today that posed a question about mentor relationships.  In this case the definition of mentor is anyone other than a member of your immediate family or your best friend.  This is an area I’ve thought about frequently and it prompted my following response:

I’ve gone my whole professional career without a mentor. I’ve gotten what I consider close a few times, but they never fully developed. I do, however, mentor several people today.

I believe two things are true with mentors; mentor relationships develop naturally and they’re built on trust.

I am not a believer in seeking out a mentor or taking an objective approach, i.e. service, to finding a mentor. It is like seeking out a husband or wife, it just happens.

That’s why typically you’ll hear of mentors being a college professor who you formed a special bond with over four years or a boss who gave you your first shot and took you under her arm. These are natural forming relationships that just happen.

I do think you can put yourself in situations, whether personal or professional, that can foster mentor relationships. It may come from common groups of interest or professional associations in which you are active.

The success I’ve enjoyed in my career has come through the school of hard knocks.  A mentor could have softened those hard knocks by giving me a heads up that they existed around the bend.  On the other hand, perhaps having experienced those situations first hand has given me the tools to mentor others in search of success.

I believe true mentor relationships to be the exception rather than the rule.  Maybe its because I didn’t have one or maybe I’m wrong.

I’d be curious to know what you think.



About Mike

Mike has been an executive in the biotechnology industry for the past 20 years. Mike is a graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, earning Bachelors degrees in Business Economics and Geography. Mike also earned his MBA in Finance from California State University, Fresno. Mike is married to the mother of his 3 children and currently lives outside of Boulder, CO. In his spare time Mike enjoys hiking, fishing, skiing, reading and coaching basketball.
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3 Responses to Do You Have a Mentor?

  1. Ben Paramore says:


    I agree with you completely. Genuine mentors are tremendously needed but don’t seem to exit in very many places. There are so few people willing to step out and be mentors, I guess because of over-commitments. I’ve had a few for brief periods but always wanted more. Now that I am at my stage in life and career, I have committed to not turn down anyone who hints to me that they would like for me to mentor them. As a result I have and am now mentoring and these relationships are very rewarding for me, the mentor. I wish more people would step up and mentor.

    Thanks for the post.

    Ben Paramore

  2. Cindy Kraft says:

    Great thoughts, Mike. I personally believe mentoring (seeking a mentor and being a mentor) should be an intentional exercise. It is beneficial to the person who is being mentored … not only softening some of the hard knocks but gaining entry into his or her circle of influence. Being a mentor allows you to grow in unexpected ways, including learning from a younger person with different perspectives. It also looks good on a resume!

    • Mike Hart says:

      Thanks for your comments, Cindy. It may be a difference of semantics. If mentoring is advising then I would agree. Seeking or providing advice or guidance on issues is a very important piece of mentoring and that can be an intentional exercise. When I think of a mentor I think of the wise old owl, the grandfather-type figure, that just knows what to say and when to say it and has your best interests at heart.

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