I am a lousy mentee. It’s a funny admission to make as someone who makes her living as professional mentor. Sure, I train my clients on how best to leverage my expertise. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I follow my own advice very well.
Lots of entrepreneurs believe they want a mentor. In fact, they're actually asking for a teacher or a coach. A mentor relationship is a two-way street. To make it work, you have to bring something to the party.
Great mentors provide just the right advice or perspective to help you navigate political landmines and do so consistently, often on a moment's notice. They put your needs before their own, always willing to pick up the phone or respond to your email even if they're swamped with their own work. So why does their greatness cause potential problems for you as a mentee?
I was living in San Francisco last year when I attended a small and
informal talk that a young entrepreneur gave at an alumni event. At the
time he started up AdMob, a seller of mobile advertising, he was with a new wife and child and was in the middle of his first year at Wharton. Life was a struggle. He was laden with a growing debt from his MBA, and he had a family to support.