Relationships come in all different shapes and sizes. They have the ability to grow but first you should know where you stand. Define your relationship. This doesn’t have to be an awkward conversation, this may be something that you do in your own mind to establish a gauge of what to disclose and manage your comfort level. Some people don’t like definitions, but I think defining relationships can help us to set healthy boundaries. Like the old saying goes,
Good Neighbors build Good Fences.
Let’s explore different types of relationships:
Acquaintance-Someone you know in passing or by sight, like your neighbor downthe hallway or street.
Colleague/Classmate-Someone you know from work or school. You may share common goals or interested in the same industry.
Friend- Someone you share your intimate thoughts and secrets with. You have built a foundation of trust and healthy communication.
Intimate Partner- This is someone you share a intimate bond with mentally and possibly physically. It is usually the first type of relationship most people think of when the word “relationship” is uttered.
Family Member- people who are related to you by blood or marriage, this includes the ones who you are close with and those you may not be so close with.
Protégé/Understudy- Someone you train or whose career is furthered by your experience, prominence, or influence
As an entrepreneur it is crucial that you build Mentor/Protégé Relationship
I believe it is important to always have mentor/ protégé relationships, at least one of each meaning one where you are the protégé and one where you are the mentor. “Each one teach one”-African American Proverb
Tip #1: Meeting with your mentor and make it a part of your standard workflow. Having a mentor or board of advisors doesn’t do any good if you never speak. The mentor relationship needs to be an active one. AK and I both have busy schedules so we try not to make a big deal out of getting together, which is why an easy trip to the coffee shop has become our choice meeting place. No reservations, no dressing up and no fuss, just simple conversation.
A few days ago, AK and I sat down over our large salads at Saladish to discuss what was going on in our respective businesses. Over the next hour and a half we shared ideas about business alliances, opportunities, and more.
Tip #2: Go into your conversation with some ideas you’d like to discuss, but don’t be afraid to flow with your mentor, respect their expertise. Ask questions, listen to the answers, and take notes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken home information from a sit down with AK that was not part of my agenda, but later turned out to be much more important or actionable than what I envisioned before taking my first sip of coffee. Always be kind and patient, Rome was not built in a day and neither was your mentor’s career.
Tip #3: The best mentor relationships are reciprocal. Don’t idolize your mentor but admire your mentor and offer help where you can. It’s expected that the protégé in the relationship will learn something, but like in marriage, there needs to be mutual respect for each other’s strengths and contributions. AK respects and has come to me for help is certain areas. In our relationship, it also helps that there’s a big generation gap. I know many people like to complain about the older or younger generation, but this difference provides two valuable perspectives when trying to gain knowledge.