So I’ll admit it: I need my ass kicked every now and again. Surprise, surprise. But let me ask you this: what if I don’t care about having my backside kicked — as long as it serves a purpose and provides a positive outcome?
As a business owner, you always have to be on top of your game. You know what I’m talking about. Sometimes you’ll have thoughts you can’t share with your board or your team, and this is exactly where a trusted and respected mentor or coach falls into place. I use ‘respected’ because this has to be the foundation of the relationship, as it’s through respect that trust and accountability can be attained.
Having a respectful and trusting relationship with a mentor who holds you accountable will be a game changer for your career and the success of your agency.
What Mentorship Started For Me
I’ve had different mentors in different chapters of my life. In my first business, I met an early mentor who was a fellow business owner and also in start-up mode. We hit it off and met weekly just to talk about business. We discussed sales, accountability, business strategy and not being afraid to imagine what’s possible. Over time, our conversations led me to the inception of Function Point. Now please understand, I was not in the software business and I didn’t know how to write code at the time, so this was not an easy concept to jump into.
What mentorship does is allow you to break through personal barriers that prevent you from getting to bigger results. I have found that committing myself to a truly vulnerable and transparent mentorship relationship has proven to be an amazing experience.
Finding a mentor who has gone through similar experiences and can speak from what they’ve learned is a great approach. One of the first things I learned from a CEO-to-CEO mentorship was how to weave through challenges so you can achieve goals while leading your team in a positive way. Hitting milestones can create an exciting environment, provide momentum, and it seems natural when you’re starting from a positive mindset founded on other’s experience with success.
If you really want to get the most out of your mentorship, I recommend full disclosure of both your personal and professional challenges, including the deepest layers. I’m talking about your family, health, finances – because, without deep discussion, you can’t get into the issues that really matter. Life and business as the owner are really the same thing. It’s balance that keeps the journey personal.
Hiring a Mentor
I suggest you identify characteristics you want for yourself and engage with like-minded people. There are many agencies that organize mentorship relationships for creative agency owners. Several that come to mind are: Entrepreneurs’ Organization, ACETECH, American Marketing Institute, Second Wind and American Marketing Institute. Check out your local community — there are likely a number of excellent opportunities.
My current mentor and life coach, Roberto Erario, excels in nurturing relationships, mutual respect and great communication techniques throughout life’s issues and changes. His skills help me drive the cultural aspects of Function Point that I have found to be critical to my leadership. We cover topics such as the stages of change to critical conflict management strategies. He’s teaching me what it looks like to remove bad tension from the room, explore the real reasons for dysfunction and get to what actually needs to be talked about. Nothing wrong with a little bit of stress in the context of a healthy and high-performing team.
There are a variety of roundtable organizations around the world where people can pay for peer mentorship. In these, you work with people at the same level and engage with a moderator who creates a space to understand, in a deep way, each other’s businesses and bring challenges and advice.
I have mentioned ACETECH, as I am currently a part of their roundtable methodology. Every month I meet a group of CEOs in a moderated roundtable format. We are tapping into the collective wisdom of a peer group whose only agenda is the success of each other and their respective businesses. In this group we show a high-level of vulnerability — we insist on full disclosure of business finances and personal health.
Our moderator, Shannon Susko, is an accomplished entrepreneur and author of The Metronome Effect. She guides us in creating a business cadence through the use of the One Page Plan. Originally put together by Verne Harnish, founder of the Gazelles, the plan addresses key aspects of business from culture through strategy, to how we execute on a 3-year vision and a 1-year tactical plan. I suggest you get her book, it’s an easy-read, and for me implementing it has changed our firm. I could speak at length about ACETECH, but for the sake of keeping it concise, I won’t. The organization and the associated roundtable pillar are about helping CEOs build great companies, with fewer mistakes, faster.
The Mentor Relationship
I would recommend that you sit with your mentor and discuss the time-frame of your relationship before you start. It may seem obvious, but this way you can put the mentorship relationship on a trial and review it after six months or a year down the road. This will give you a chance to re-evaluate it and talk about expectations to ensure it’s giving you what you need. These sessions allow you to reset goals and pivot the outcomes you expect. Roberto and I have regular conversations on what we can do next to grow the Function Point team while keeping me aligned with my personal mission.
Mentors Are Not Your Board
It’s important to understand the difference between a mentor and a board. A mentor is there to help you and your actions within the business. Not the shareholders or the bank. Your mentor should provide guidance and advice while leaving the decisions up to you to make — and they should do this within the perspective of your benefit, your health and not strictly from the view of the business you are driving.
Overcome Your Barriers
Think of possibilities, growth and overcoming your personal barriers. Those voices that can, at times, get in the way of achieving extraordinary results with your firm, your team and most importantly for you. Getting a little help, guidance and a shot in the arm has lowered my stress and has made me a better person.
So go ahead, admit it. You could use a good kick in the ass every once and a while. Find someone whose kick means something, and in doing so achieve some great results for you, your firm and your family.
I would be happy to help out in any way I can. Don’t hesitate to contact me at 1.877.731.2522 (ext. 224). Mentorship has been a game-changer for me and I’m more than happy to share.
Function Point Productivity Software is the leading all-in-one project and task management software, specially designed for ad agencies, design studios and internal marketing departments looking to streamline their business. Book a demo to see how FP can help your creative agency.
Founder & CEO
Chris started Function Point over 20 years ago in his basement as a way to help professional service agencies run their businesses more efficiently. Since then he's grown FP into an international success, working with over 600 companies from around the world and continues to run the company from the head office in Vancouver, Canada.