So you want to be a business mentor?

Like myself, Mike Southon seems to have fallen into business mentoring by accident. Having spent hours giving out free advice, he took it on as a paid profession.

Gradually he began to realise that the skills required are varied; an appreciation of business, an ability to look ahead, accepting people for who they are and appreciating them, and much more. And yes, the fun is realising how you can benefit from your own advice, if you are prepared to listen to yourself.

So, having contemplated the words of Mr Southon, I found myself flicking my wife’s copy of “Good Housekeeping”. Usually, to preserve my male ego, I only read the recipe section, but for some reason I became engrossed in an interview with Ruby Wax. She is a larger than life American, who filled British TV screens for a decade from the late 1980s.

I would watch her interviews, find them funny, yet feel annoyed by them. Why? In effect, Ruby discusses this in the article. She was so desperate to make the show entertaining that she never truly related to those on the other side of her microphone.

Ruby is now a psychotherapist, teaching companies how to manage the emotional side of their business. She explains how she uses curiosity to capture the trust of her client. She also refrains from first judgements, which I assume that the speed of the media world does not encourage.

What really caught my eye was a box with her 4 key tips:

  • Be genuinely interested in what people are saying to you
  • Take time to be in the shoes of the client
  • Use your skills from the home and place them in your work environment
  • Check your own emotions before starting out for the day

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by a friend to go round for a chat. In his business for 15 years, he now feels that he is missing a couple of tricks.

I listened. He is fun to be with. He likes his work. His website looked fine. We discussed his competition. He has some clear unique selling points. And yet…. it did not add up.

I was about to leave, when he showed me some correspondence, which had led to a rejection by a potential client. And right in front of him was his answer, or at least part of it. He had forgotten why he liked his work, and he lost the knack to impart that joy to others.

I guess that is why I like mentoring, and that is what Southon, Wax and others are also saying. We are helping people to assess if the original vision is what interests them today and how to obtain it.

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