What many people describe as “mentorship” is not actually a true mentorship. THIS is what it is.
Coach Jon here. I get tons of questions all the time via email or on my Facebook group Fit Pros Unite (psst…click here and request to join).
Rather than just hitting reply and having it exist as a response that only a few people can see, I want to share my fully thought-out responses with you because I’m sure you might find it useful, too.
In this article, we answer the following from Alex:
Here’s my response (slightly edited from my original reply to him on Facebook):
What many people describe as “mentorship” is not actually a true mentorship. The word ‘mentor’ has been bastardized in a lot of ways.
To me, and historically, a mentor-mentee relationship is a deep one that lasts years, not days or weeks or months. A mentor passes along wisdom, not just tips.
Basically, a mentorship is not a relationship that you get by responding to a Facebook ad, getting on a sales call, and forking over many thousands of dollars to be in a glorified Facebook group.
Right now, I mentor one person. His name is Alex Cartmill.
Four years ago, Alex responded to a call for a mentee. That is, I wanted to mentor someone. I wanted to take on a special person. All applicants had to handwrite me a letter. They had to put this handwritten letter in the mail and send it to my P.O. box.
I got over 200 handwritten letters in two weeks.
Alex made it to the second round of phone calls. I didn’t pick him. He flopped when I asked him the following question:
“You are in your early 20s. What makes you more special than somebody 20 years your senior in age and experience?”
Many months later, Alex wrote me a Facebook message. All this time, he had been ruminating on the question, and then finally, provided me with a great answer.
At this time, he was in his second year of university. I gave him a few jobs to do, all unpaid, in exchange for phone calls to discuss whatever he wanted to discuss.
These were bullshit jobs. Bottom of the barrel stuff that had to get done, but suck to do.
He performed them diligently, reliably, and without complaint.
So I gave him more jobs and more responsibility, and I started paying him–not much, but a bit.
For three years, the relationship continued this way. Alex did all of the jobs that had to be done in the business for some money while he finished school. In exchange, he got paid a bit of money and got a deep insight into my company and thought process.
Over those years, our relationship continued to grow. He got more money and more jobs, and we also got into deeper conversations sometimes about strategy, but more often about theory and thought processes.
Alex graduated university, and I asked him if he wanted to work with me full-time, which is what he is doing now. Even now he still does all of the crappy jobs, like creating the glossary in the Fundamentals of Online Training Textbook and meticulously checking for formatting errors.
But I’ve also learned to trust him in bigger roles like project-managing the development and release of the Online Trainer Academy, a million-dollar business within its first three months.
My relationship with Alex is deeper than just providing him with tips. It’s one that’s changed him just as much as it has changed me. In essence, the best relationships are those where equal admiration exists between both parties. That’s a mentor and that’s what constitutes a great mentee.
A perspective from the other side of a mentor-mentee relationship
To provide more insight, I’ve also called upon Alex to share his take on the whole thing, too. The following is from Coach Alex:
I’ve been lucky enough to have unreal mentors like Jon Goodman and Tim Henriques. That said, they never came and asked to mentor me. Our relationship was built over time, and the benefits of it have been irreplaceable.
For you or anyone looking to find a mentor, the hardest part is knowing where to start. I share this simple process that has helped me in the hope that it helps you:
1. Think HUGE.
If you could have anyone in the world mentor you, who would it be?
2. Make a list of your top 20 and contact every single one.
When you reach out, think of the ‘path of least resistance’ here. In other words, what medium can you use to more easily reach them? Some people get thousands of emails a day, so avoid emails. If they have millions of followers on Facebook, don’t Facebook message them. In the past, I’ve used LinkedIn, messaging older Facebook business/fan pages that don’t have a huge following, and other non-standard ways to cut through the noise.
3. The initial message is your first impression.
Dedicate the first one to two lines to tell them about yourself. That’s it. Make the rest about them. Ask them something you think they’ve never been asked before; give them a genuine compliment about their work; tell them how they’ve impacted you. Etc. etc. The ONLY goal here is to stand out and get a response.
Three years ago, Jon was number one on my list. I messaged Jon telling him how much I loved the Personal Trainer Development Center and how I felt it carved out a much needed place in the fitness industry. He responded by thanking me and saying he loved the message. That single message grew into the relationship we have today.
Most people won’t respond. No worries, you had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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