On Mentoring

coffee cup in foreground with mountains and lake

A few weeks ago, a family friend asked me if I could mentor their child. Of course!

Anyone who knows me knows that I believe in being 100% transparent. So, I share the email I wrote to this individual below in hopes of modeling one way of doing so —“one way” is the key phrase here because your way will probably differ from my way.

I also share because most of the readers of this blog are leaders. Therefore, I pose the question to you: In your life, who could use an email like this? Who could you be mentoring?

I hope my email gets you thinking about someone you could challenge (and hopefully build up).  In case you’re wondering, this person told me that they thought the email was “intense,” but they liked the intensity because it forced them to think about the questions I outlined.   I also think it is safe to say that we both learned a few things from the time we spent together, which is another positive aspect of “mentoring.”

Here is the email I sent to setup our meeting:

Dear X, 

Things to consider before meeting:

1. How can I serve you?  (That question probably sounds creepy…but what questions do you have that you are embarrassed about?  Maybe you don’t have any.  But I used to think being a “grown-up” meant that you had your stuff together, so I did not ask a lot of questions because I was afraid to look stupid.  This is not the case at all.  Most people stay this way because they don’t ask).

2. What do you want to do?  Really? (Keep asking yourself this over and over, emphasizing the “really” part.)  I wasted (say “used” in front of my father please) a lot of his money to get a teaching degree.  I don’t think I ever really wanted to be a teacher however (but I didn’t realize this until I was in my 30s). 

3. Do you want to meet or are you doing this because your mom wants you to?  Be honest.  I can do the check the box thing. I love your grandfather and would do just about anything for him. I just want clarity here.  The “check the box” meeting is 15 minutes.  I am offering much more than that. 

What I am bringing:

1. Vulnerability. I won’t hold back.

2. Transparency.  Again, I am an open book.

3. Time.  I’ve got plenty of things to do.  This kind of meeting excites me.  I am choosing to do this.

I write a lot about leadership here: http://baldinbusiness.com/ .  Read a few posts if you want to get to know me better.

If I received an email like this when I was your age, I’d think the dude was nuts.  I am sure my wife thinks I am.  But we have a happy marriage because I am completely transparent about everything.


I approach life that way.

You won’t get anything less from me,