Looking for Overlooked Ideas

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

There is no shortage of ideas in the world, especially good ones. What there is a shortage of, is action. That lack of action is due to either individual(s) unwillingness or inability to take action, although oftentimes individuals will believe/claim that their barrier is inability when it is in fact their unwillingness. That said, one of the highest “inability barriers” is seed funding, or having the financial resources to act on an idea. I get excited when I find initiatives that seek to overcome that “inability barrier” by investing in action on ideas.

Pioneer is like Emergent Ventures, in their unique and direct approach to provide open ended funding to ideas that would otherwise fail to pass a typical grant of investment evaluation.

Pioneer seeks to find the “Lost Einsteins” of the world and fund their ideas through a peer voting process (similar to employee innovation programs). Taking it a step further, Pioneer seeks to create a strong support system for their winners by bringing them to Silicon Valley and setting them up with strong mentoring.

Emergent Ventures (EV) similarly seeks to discover otherwise overlooked individuals with ideas through both funding and mentoring. As might be expected from an organization run by an economist (and seed funded by the Thiel Foundation), EV seeks to minimize waste and bureaucracy and maximize the potential of the entrepreneur. For more on EV, also check out the Marginal Revolution blog, who takes credit for bringing my attention to both EV and Pioneer.

Both programs are accepting applications now, so if you have an idea worth pursuing and are simply seeking for a kick-start this is your chance, don’t waste it. Emergent Ventures application can be found here. The Pioneer application can be found here, with the deadline to apply being end-of-day February 3rd.

P.S. Another cool funding initiative I came across a couple years ago was started by a Texas based Venture Capital firm, Notley Ventures. Notley Ventures facilitates and funds an event called Phialnthropitch,that offers grants to non-profits via a start-up-pitch like event. Along with being a interesting concept, it is a great event to attend.

Mentoring, at its best, is like dating

Part 3: Mentoring, at its best, is like dating
This is a 3-part post; you can find Part 1 here & Part 2 here

Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash

The first two posts on mentoring show its likeness to interviewing and coaching, a fairly common comparison. This final post focuses on an overlooked but important truth of great mentoring relationships. Despite having many mentoring relationships, including several good ones, its taken half my life and two recent great mentoring relationships to recognize this truth; mentoring, at it’s BEST, is like dating. There must be trust, shared interest/values, and chemistry for it work

Trust: If there isn’t trust in this relationship, you’ll never get deeper than surface level in your time together, and treasures are never buried at surface level. Just like in dating though, trust doesn’t start on day 1. It takes time for that to develop as you, mentor or mentee, grow more comfortable together and find the connections necessary to build that trust. This takes time, but it also takes a willingness to extend trust in how you share or recieve experiences.

Shared interest/values: It’s difficult to give or take advice to/from someone who you either don’t respect, or cannot relate to. This doesn’t mean that you should have similar demographics or careers, but there must be a common ground for you to build on together.

Chemistry: You could check the box on every single point made over the last three posts and yet there’s still just something not “clicking” in the mentoring relationship. You can ignore this factor, discredit it or even combat it, but it is there. Whether the timing just isn’t right or something else, you have to be willing to accept this. If mentoring relationship isn’t what it should be, the most respectful thing you can do, for both parties, is to let it go.

In my last two posts, my call-to-action was for you to begin mentoring through either Veterati or Big Brother or Big Sister, and while I still hope you consider mentoring I’m going to make a different ask today.

If you have a mentor or a mentee, write them a thank you note, expressing gratitude for the gift you both have in that relationship.

If you’re having difficulty making the most of a mentoring relationship, or difficulty in finding a way to start one, shoot me a note via my contact page and let’s try to solve it.

Mentoring, at its best, is like coaching

Part 2: Mentoring, at its best, is like interviewing
This is a 3-part post; you can find Part 1 here & 3 will follow tomorrow

Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

Like all meaningful relationships, a lot goes into developing a strong mentoring relationship. While much of it can be organic, there are ways to be intentional and make the most of it. This 3-part series aims to shift and simplify the way you, as either mentor or mentee, think about mentoring. The first part is to treat the relationship as you would an interview, but we’ll limit the value of the relationship if we only take a formal view of mentoring; mentoring is like coaching in the need for there to be training, encouragement and accountability.

Training: A coach’s ultimate goal with a player is to help them improve, and that focus on improvement is just as important in worthwhile mentoring. If you’re not being intentional in using that time to learn and improve (yourself or your mentee) then its not mentoring, its “hanging out”.

Encouragement: You’re likely action and outcome oriented, which usually is accompanied with being your toughest critic. When the road to winning becomes bumpy and your trophy still feels a long way off, it’s common to become discouraged. This is where you may need a good mentor most, to remind you that they’re speed bumps, not mountains.

Accountability: Rarely, if ever, has a great coach been primarily described as being “nice”. That is because they’re willing to be tough when necessary to keep players accountable for doing what they need to do to improve. Set goals in your time together, and if you’re not following through on them, a good mentor will hold you accountable.

If you’re committing to building a mentoring relationship that has lasting impact, think about approaching mentoring as if you were a coach. Be intentional in training through the time together, share encouragement when the journey becomes difficult, and hold each other accountable to following through on the growth goals you set together.

Re-frame the idea of mentoring – one of the best ways to better gain from mentoring, is to give mentoring. Here are a couple good options outside of your office/church/etc:
-Mentor a veteran or find a mentor with Veterati
-Become a Big Brother or Big Sister

Mentoring, at its best, is like interviewing

Part 1: Mentoring, at its best, is like interviewing
This is a 3-part post, with Part 2 & 3 to follow

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Mentoring is not easy, on either side of the table. If it were, Capterra wouldn’t need to offer businesses a list of 45 SaaS providers to consider. As difficult as it can be to find and build a good mentoring relationship, it is one of the most valuable and rewarding relationships you can have. What I want to do in this 3 part post is shift and simplify the way you, as either mentor or mentee, think about mentoring; beginning with realizing that mentoring is like interviewing.

If you approach finding and building a strong mentoring relationship as you would for an interview, you’d start by: Finding the right opportunity; preparing for it; and respecting the opportunity.

Find: Determine what it is you want out of mentoring. Do you want to learn about a certain field or develop a new skill? Then, identify where you can find that; Whether that’s in your current company, a local club/organization or somewhere else in your network. Lastly, you need to ask for the opportunity… After all, it’s hard to get an interview without applying for it. As Seth Godin would encourage us, act first!

Prepare: Before you meet with your mentor/mentee, do your homework on their background, their experience and their goals (if possible) for the time together. Come up with some questions/topics you want to cover before every single connection. Sure, you may not cover them or the conversation may go in a completely different direction, but there’s no better way to ruin mentoring than to waste the time together.

Respect: To the above point, respect your mentor/mentee’s time by taking the relationship seriously. Especially if you’re the mentee, don’t ask for a mentors often limited free time unless you’re going to actively listen to their advice and apply it. Lastly, be grateful for the relationship and for the generosity of the mentor/mentee sharing their experiences with you. The simplest form of gratitude is to express it (in writing and in words), but the most meaningful form of gratitude is to share your successes with your mentor; nothing is more rewarding to a mentor than to know that they’ve helped you.

Re-frame the idea of mentoring – one of the best ways to better gain from mentoring, is to give mentoring. Here are a couple good options outside of your office/church/etc:
-Mentor a veteran or find a mentor with Veterati
-Become a Big Brother or Big Sister