The short, uncomfortable truth about finding a mentor

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Today I want to tell the truth about mentorship.

Because, like most business advice, most of it out there suffers from survivorship bias and misanalysis at best and simply guessing at the worst.

And it’s not just useless advice — it’s damaging to people that are just starting out.

In my experience, there are two REAL ways to get someone to be your mentor

  1. You pay them OR
  2. They pay you

Now I get it. This sounds so transactional. The type of mentor YOU want it one that is invested in your success, like a father figure of sorts. Someone that saw that special something deep inside you and just can’t resist trying to bring it out.

Ok, cool. You can have that. But, how are you planning on finding these people?

“Well, Abbey… I’ll provide value. I’ll email them telling them about how I’m their biggest fan. I’ll offer to work for free, ya know, VALUE.”

So that’s what most gurus are going to tell you what to do. And most of them are wrong.

A tale of 3 mentors.

This was my first real copywriting mentor. He was also my client, and then, when I became a full-time employee, my boss. Each week, he would walk through my copy and ask questions about why I made the choices I did. He also helped me learn the marketing strategy, business operations, and mindset it takes to be successful online. We met over 5 years ago and although he’s no longer my boss, he’s still an influential presence in my life.

I originally met him at a live event he was running and I attended. Later, I joined his high-level mastermind group. He recognized that my career was on a trajectory that he could help with. After that, we formed a business relationship and friendship. He connected me to some of my most high-paying clients as well as contractors and resources that I’ve used in my business. He’s the guy I call with my high-level business questions.

I met him on an introduction from a friend, although we didn’t really connect for over a year after our first phone call. We shared some greek food and a few cocktails and discovered that I had a very specific problem he could solve. And in return, he needed a specific type of copy that I could write. We became fast friends, he transformed my business in less than 3 months, and we have partnered on multiple projects since.

What did all these relationships have in common?

Clear incentive to make the relationship work.

Because the truth is, if you’re at a place in your career where all you need is some mentorship, then there probably isn’t much of value you can offer someone busy.

And if there is, why not get paid for that?

You can find a mentorship without an exchange of money, but you need one thing: INCENTIVE

Otherwise, there’s no reason for a busy, successful person to take time to teach you and there’s no reason or impetus for you to actually follow through on their advice.

Been a direct response copywriter since 7th grade when I wrote a 30-page sales letter asking my crush to the dance. freelancecoop.org

Been a direct response copywriter since 7th grade when I wrote a 30-page sales letter asking my crush to the dance. freelancecoop.org