Help is good, but see if you are really listening. Check out these tips to get the most out of mentorship engagements.
1) Don’t interrupt each other.
If you can’t handle having a conversation about your company, how can you handle running the company? It is disrespectful to your teammate and disrespectful for those trying to listen. You may think you have a better thing to say or better answer to a question, but by interrupting you have a worse answer by default. If you strongly believe that your answer is more accurate, just wait until questioning is over and pull aside the mentor to clear things up.
2) Realize you will have to decide for yourself.
We’ve all been there, we give an essay to multiple people and everyone is saying something different. So whose or which advice do you go with? Learn why each person gave that advice, if one executive tells Uber to go “expand to Europe”, and the other says “focus on growth in the U.S”, Uber can’t take both pieces of advice. Instead they will continue to ask why each executive feels that way and have them back it up with numbers, do the same with your mentors.
3) Why you, why this, and why now?
HBS professor Lynda Applegate came to speak to Launch and discussed the elements of a great elevator pitch. Meeting with mentors is a great time to start out with your elevator pitch, the people listening need to know why you care about changing this part of the world, and why this is the way to do it.
4) Prepare technology and answers to expected questions
You want to be the team that has their PowerPoint working, that knows which questions are coming and knows which people are answering. This will be a clean presentation and it will allow you and your team to focus on your challenges in the company and not your challenges in your presentation, which brings us to our last point…
5) Identify biggest challenges and then ask for help!
This may be the single most important thing here, if your team knows you have a weak point, don’t try and just impress the mentors by hiding it, bring up this weak point. It can be anything from discussing a roll-out plan to having challenges of determining responsibilities within the team. They are there to help you and your team, not to be WOW’ed. Keep asking for constructive criticism of your biggest challenges, and you should be well on your way!