The Power and Influence of a Successful Mentor

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They are arguably the most important people in your professional career.

Having a mentor is a crucial aspect to a successful career. (Image via Lynda.com)

Tim Ferriss recently wrote a book called Tribe of Mentors, and after listening to him talk about it on 5 or so podcasts, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of mentorship.

More than that, I’ve been thinking about what makes a great mentor and what impact they can have on someone’s life. Finding a mentor is one thing, but finding a great mentor can be life changing.

They can help you grow as a professional. They can encourage you to take or pass on a certain job. They can introduce you to new contacts. They can give you confidence and push you to achieve your definition of success.

Chloe Barnes, President of Elle Grace Consulting, has had several amazing mentors already in her career, each providing her with different takeaways. When talking about Felicia Martin, VP of Eligibility Center at the NCAA, she said, “Felicia knows how to challenge you, motivate you, and push you to grow. She’s not a micromanager and is great at understanding the unique qualities that make a person shine.”

When referencing another mentor, she’s learned the value of balancing work and life to create success in all aspects of her life.

Great mentors don’t just tell you things. They push you to grow and challenge you to be as great as you can be. They don’t, however, micromanage.

Tod Meisner, a fellow Front Office Sports contributor, reflected on his first mentor/boss when he started out as a SID. He made it a point to say that Todd Kober, “had high expectations for me, but gave me the freedom to achieve my goals in a way that made sense to my working style. [He] wasn’t a micro manager but had firm expectations and pushed me to get better.”

I think it’s pretty apparent that great mentors don’t hand hold you along the journey. They give you guidance and challenge you in ways you didn’t know possible.

Here’s the thing. People don’t mentor just anyone. They mentor people they believe in and when you believe in someone you push them to do incredible things!

I know for me, personally, mentors have played a big part in my success. They have been there for me in times of struggle and success.

Dr. Tyrone Howard, Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at UCLA, is a huge mentor of mine and he was one of the people who pushed me to write Elevate Beyond at 23 years old. At the time I thought he was crazy, but I trusted him, took his advice, challenged myself and turned my first book into a bestseller.

Jake and his mentor Tyrone Howard (Photo via Jake Kelfer)

In sports, one of my main mentors is Sergio Millas. He is the Digital Marketing Director of HallPass Media and someone I trust immensely. He was the first call I made to discuss one of my offers coming out of college. He inspired me to not just take the job for the sake of having a job, but to do what would be best for me that would help me get closer to achieving my long term vision. I can’t say what would have happened had I ignored this advice, but I can say that because I listened, I ended up working for the Lakers, writing my first book, becoming a motivational speaker, and creating the Professional Basketball Combine.

Sergio has pushed me to be great by challenging me to be the best problem solver I can be. He is always looking out for me, and I do my best to capitalize when an opportunity arises.

The best part is that Sergio and I are great friends. We’re even working on a new online sports networking course together called the “Sports Networking Playbook” to help students, young professionals and executives develop and expand their current network, take their relationships to the next level and help them achieve their goals (whatever those may be). We would love your feedback by filling out our survey here so we can make sure we develop the highest quality course possible.

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, and you never know when you might meet your next mentor. You might find a mentor in your first internship, as you go through the job process, during a transition phase, or when you are deciding how to expand your business or negotiate a promotion.

You can’t force mentorship, but when you have a passion for learning and put yourself in a position to succeed through hard work and authentic networking, you will have the chance to enjoy the benefits and friendship of a great mentor.

Great mentors push you to succeed by providing you with opportunities, giving you freedom to create greatness, and by believing in you. Every mentor is unique, and everyone takes away something different from their mentors; but when it’s all said and done, great mentors can have a hugely positive impact on those they mentor.

Shoutout to all the amazing mentors in the world today and thank you for everything you do!


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