All my life I have sought mentors to guide me into areas that were not familiar to me. Sometimes the mentor was an older, more experienced adult. Sometimes it was a peer who had skills that I admired and did not possess. Occasionally, it is a younger person who could provide a perspective that I couldn’t reach. But in every aspect of my life I have sought mentors to learn from, emulate and follow.
As we began Four Athens we recognized the importance of mentors in the startup world and made the commitment early on to gather a strong covey of mentors with skills to share with our founders. These mentors need not be founders who created and exited a company or had boatloads of money to put into new companies. These mentors needed to possess a specific skill that they could share with our founders. They also needed to be open and willing to share their gifts with our founders. The core value required is for the mentors to give without expectation. All we require is for the mentors to take the call, to interact without reciprocity.
We continue to seek mentors to share with our founders, but we also encourage our founders to seek mentors of their own. We create opportunities for members to meet other interesting and gifted people, professionals, artists, students, all possible mentors. We never know where we might find our inspiration, our muse or our guide.
I challenge you to keep your mind open to those around you. Don’t limit yourself to seeking mentors of your own age, gender, or profession. It is wonderful when you realize that a conversation with that sculptor you met can provide the inspiration to move beyond the mundane to see the art in your code. Or that a question the bartender asked you pointed you in a completely different direction. Mentors are everywhere. Look around.