Creator: David Cohen is the founder and CEO of TechStars, a mentorship-driven seed stage investment program for Internet startups.
Purpose: What does it take to be a great mentor?
• Be socratic.
• Expect nothing in return (you’ll be delighted with what you do get back).
• Be authentic / practice what you preach.
• Be direct. Tell the truth, however hard.
• Listen too.
• The best mentor relationships eventually become two-way.
• Be responsive.
• Adopt at least one company every single year. Experience counts.
• Clearly separate opinion from fact.
• Hold information in confidence.
• Clearly commit to mentor or do not. Either is fine.
• Know what you don’t know. Say I don’t know when you don’t know. “I don’t know” is preferable to bravado.
• Guide, don’t control. Teams must make their own decisions. Guide but never tell them what to do. Understand that it’s their company, not yours.
• Accept and communicate with other mentors that get involved.
• Be optimistic.
• Provide specific actionable advice, don’t be vague.
• Be challenging/robust but never destructive.
• Have empathy. Remember that startups are hard.
Blog post on DavidGCohen.com – 28 August 2011.