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The first article in this series listed more than 25 tactics to increase your business success, all of them based on my experience.

Good mentees are very hard to find. I am asked a lot to be a mentor and usually decline. I only want to help someone I consider genuine, engaged, and capable of learning and being a good mentee. Many said they wanted to learn but really only wanted shortcuts to success. They weren’t fully engaged or capable of learning. Many millennials, frankly, just didn’t want to work hard enough. I am okay with that, so long as they don’t complain that they want more success or money.

One mentor I spoke to recently said he stopped looking for mentees. He’s found that the best ones come looking for him. They are hungry. He doesn’t have to ask if they want help. So don’t be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor. You might be surprised when they say YES!

What does it take to be a good mentee?

•A good mentee is hungry for knowledge; they are competitive and they don’t want to waste time reinventing the wheel; they want to learn fast and learn all the basic things from someone that’s done that, while benefiting from more advanced items like the strategies of success and leading people.
•Respect their time. Have scheduled meetings; once monthly is good.
•Come with a notepad, keep good notes. I require everyone to have a journal for meetings, with dates at the tops of pages, and numbered pages. The numbers make it easy for us to refer to items in the notes.
•If you had an assignment, report your progress on that item.
•Start by telling the mentor what you learned last month and how you’ve used it.
•Come with a list of meaningful questions to the meeting.
•Be prepared for the raw truth. The world is a tough place; a good mentor is going to tell you the truth about what you need, and when you aren’t doing the right thing. The absolute best mentors will push you to the breaking point; they are intuitive to know how much you can handle. Then they pull back slightly.
•If you aren’t prepared to work hard, and be honest with yourself about what you want to learn, then you won’t make a good mentee, and you will fire yourself or be dismissed. Good mentors don’t have time for slackers.
•When you have a track record of proven success delivering results and leading teams, coupled with good experience, you will hopefully become a mentor. Until then, listen and learn.

I’ve had a few mentees over the last few years. One, who seemed particularly smart and aggressive, I gave three books to read, with instructions to read one monthly and get back to me when they were ready for more. Remember, a goal without a date is a dream. A year later, and about a dozen meetings later, I asked him how he was doing on the books. He said he was still working on them. At that pace, that mentee will take five years to learn what he should have learned in one. Also, projects he was given went undone even though they also seemed enthusiastic about the project at the outset. I called it passive resistance. A lot of times, I believe it was because he simply didn’t work hard enough or prioritize his time properly, but some items, like putting salespersons on commissions instead of salary, were just plain hard to do, and he just didn’t have the strength to do them. This business of leading is hard, and it requires hard decisions. Many want it, but few are suited for it.

Published in the September 2017 Edition of American Recycler News