Friday 10 October 2008

Mentoring works?!

Often friends ask me about the difficulties we face trying to startup immediately after graduation. One of the common answer they get to hear is that we have always found the right people to speak openly about our challenges and get their views and insights about it. But I thought it would be appropriate to share something about how such advices have worked for me at least. Because it was very, very different from what I myself expected or how most sources of learning would present it as.

Firstly, I believe no amount of mentoring can substitute experience. And for a non-conformist like me, most advices and insights are not a very natural way to base your decisions on. In spite of that, it has been extremely helpful in a very different way. Normally, we learn the right choices based on our previous cases, when we had to make a similar choice. After a few right/wrong choices you make, most people can pretty much figure out what works for them. Now, having a mentor greatly accelerates two steps involved in the process I stated above:
  1. It makes you realize the right choices much sooner than you would otherwise.
  2. It helps you understand not just what the right choices are, but why they are the right choices. This makes future learning so much more easy.
Of course, you may argue that there are both merits as well as demerits to this. I agree. But in our case it's been something that has mainly brought out positives for us and I believe it would be so in many other cases where the founders do not have direct corporate experience before. Having said that, things are working great for us only because we enjoy one huge luxury - being able to speak our hearts out with our advisors and get candid opinions not just about encouraging aspects of our business but also about challenges and things that can go terribly wrong. If you cannot speak without any veils with your advisors/mentors, it's no good for either sides irrespective of how much short-term credibility it may bring to your venture.

Like most opinions that I'll be expressing in this blog, some of them have been tested, some of them might just be air. Opinions, beliefs, schedules, roles - everything change so fast in a startup that it makes me wonder if this is the right time to be blogging about it! But then, here I am...

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