I am fortunate to be guided by some of the best and brightest minds. My mentors include a sizable list of “who’s who”. For example, counted among my mentors are Michael Hyatt, Tony Dungy, Ron Edmundson, John C. Maxwell, Max Lucado, Marcus Buckingham, Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, Laurie Beth Jones, Max DePree and more. The best part is they can mentor you as well. In fact, they may have already started.
I am sure you’ve figured out that I am talking about mentoring through published works. Admittedly, this relationship is one-way. Therefore, this may not be considered by many to be mentoring. Yet, when you have input from so many of the greatest leaders, there is much to be said for even this one-way relationship. Social media and modern technology provide us a wealth of opportunities to learn from the leading experts in our fields and leadership development. Here are some tips for establishing and maintaining your own core of virtual mentors:
1. Blogs: Subscriptions to blogs are an excellent way to receive regular updates, insights and ideas. These regular updates often include advice on current events and trending topics. Some of my favorite leadership blogs include:
2. Networks: Using LinkedIn, Ning, even Facebook and other, more socially-focused networks is a great way of connecting with like-minded individuals in the same, or similar, fields and industries. Some of my favorite virtual networks include:
- LinkedIn (especially the Servant Leadership Group)
- Ning’s Servant Leadership Site
3. Books: Naturally, reading books by thought leaders in your chosen field are a great source of information and guidance. There are too many favorites for me to list here.
4. Audio: Generally speaking, I purchase the matching audio version of any book I like. This enables me to “freshen up” up on some of my favorite content, This is particularly useful given a long commute and / or when something comes up and I remember, “that one author had a great point on this… let me find that again.” Alternatively, podcasts and many other audio formats are excellent for those who travel or during exercise.
5. Search: Of course, there will be occasions when something comes up and you do not recall a reference to the challenge from your existing team of virtual mentors. When that happens, it may be time to expand your board of virtual advisors. Start with an online search and you may find an advisor focused on that particular niche.
So why aren’t you being mentored by these or other leading experts? Perhaps you are now – great! If not, I strongly encourage you and your teams to pick up some of these tips and start receiving advice and mentoring from the best in the field. It may be one-way, but in the end, one-way mentoring from the best and brightest is better than no mentoring from them at all.
Question: Do you have one or more virtual mentors? Who do you get your guidance and advice from and how?
There's an exception or two to the 'one way-ness' of digital mentoring above. Blogs and Social networks can, and often do break into two or even many way discussions. This is the reason I find them most useful.
Obviously, there will always be value to books and other forms of 'one way mentoring', but in terms of time v. reward, I find the social networks and blogs of those I respect most worthwhile.
See? I AM being mentored! =) I always wondered if 'virtual mentors' (like that phrase) can be termed as the real deal. Yeah, I'm not paying for them. And yeah, it's mostly one-sided. But still… I'm learning and growing and changing. Really like this post.
I would have so say my favorite 'virtual mentor' is Dan Miller's podcast and newsletter (www.48days.com). He brings out my entrepreneur spirit and gives countless ideas on finding – and succeeding – in work you love, including writing! =) Next is Michael Hyatt's blog (that's where I found your blog!). I can't seem to get enough of his posts. And last is Dave Ramsey's podcast and newsletter. (www.daveramsey.com).
I would have to agree that the social media revolution has enabled all of us to follow a host of new "mentors" that wouldn't otherwise have been possible before.
The greatest impact this has had on me is in fields I never had an opportunity to study before, either in college or on the job. In my case that has been design, programming (there's always a new language/framework to learn), electronics and data visualization. And I've got dozens of feeds that I follow for each to help me learn the ropes.
At the same time, learning about new fields helps me advance my career. A book is a great way to dive into a new area, but the blogosphere provides you with a plethora of different perspectives, cutting-edge advances and new ways of thinking that you won't find in books – at least not until someone has had the time to synthesize them. Plus, you can immediately interact with others, share your insights and receive invaluable critiques from the community as you make your way.
Long gone are the days of having only one academic advisor or boss as a mentor.
Thank you for contributing April. I also found your blog through Michael Hyatt – you have a beautiful site with great content. I'll have to check out the other virtual mentors you suggest here.
Aw, thank you! I've got a lot to learn, blog wise, but I so appreciate your compliment =) And thank you for referring Ron Edmundson. I have never heard of him before now… his posts are powerful.
Thank you for that excellent contribution, Sage. I think you summed it all up so well at the end:
"Long gone are the days of having only one academic advisor or boss as a mentor."
[…] achievements, 5 years after they are gone. What you are more likely to be remembered for is how you mentored others, how you served organizations and how you helped others become more than they would have been […]
Wow! I feel humbled an honored…especially between Hyatt and Godin. Thank you.
My pleasure Ron. It is well deserved. I love your content and always take something away from your posts. So glad we finally got to meet at the Catalyst Meetup in Atlanta.