Here are the 12 keys to being a SuperMentee:
1. Be worth the time and energy.
The bottom line is to be committed to the relationship. The top complaint of mentors is flaky mentees–ones who don’t seem all-in on the partnership.
Don’t be that guy or girl.
2. Understand that you own the relationship.
It’s not your mentor’s job to set the next appointment or to do the little organizing/structural things to keep the partnership going. That’s on you.
3. Know what you want, and ask for what you need.
They want to provide more, not less, help. They don’t want to deal with the helpless. Research is clear that the more specific an ask, the more potent the assistance offered.
4. Be prepared, personable and packed.
News flash, your mentor is a busy person. The more productive the meeting, the more they’ll feel like it’s time well spent.
So be fully prepared and don’t be afraid to have a full agenda. And while you’re at it, don’t just be in advice extraction mode–be personable, be you. You can call these the three Ps.
5. Take action on the advice, run through doors opened for you.
This is the meat of the relationship, so take the advice (if you agree with it) and act on it. Then, let the mentor know you’re doing so. If they open a door of opportunity for you, visibly sprint through it.
6. Be hungry, but not a head-nodder.
Show up as hungry to learn, take advice, and grow. But don’t just be a “yes” person. It’s okay to respectfully push back if the mentor doesn’t have full context or if you simply don’t agree. This is meant to be a conversation, not a dictation.
Such skills are required for success in business and will signal to the mentor that they’ve bet on a thoroughbred.
7. Ask thoughtful questions.
Great questions are more likely to yield great answers, and the mentor will be encouraged to up their own game on the question-asking front.
8. Check your ego at the door.
Now is not the time for pride or defensiveness. Be open to feedback and just be ready to be eminently coachable.
9. Set short and long term goals, and share progress.
Mentors love to see specific goals set, and the better ones will hold you accountable to those goals. They’ll also find progress reports rewarding. Wouldn’t you?
10. Have realistic expectations of the mentor.
Not everyone will actually land Warren Buffet–someone who invests a surprising amount of time and energy into the relationship–as a mentor, so manage your expectations.
If your mentor is under-delivering, that’s different. There’s nothing wrong with a graceful dissolution.
11. Show gratitude, honesty, and respect (especially for the mentor’s time).
Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like your parents here–and I know you know this point. But research indicates a surprising number of mentees forget to show gratitude and aren’t always forthright and/or courteous.
12. Add value.
Look for ways to add value to the mentor’s life, besides just the inherent value they get from mentoring.
Go use your superpowers for good, guided by your mentor, all while moonlighting as SuperMentee. The citizens of Gotham need you!