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113: The Art of Being Mentorable

How to cultivate the qualities that make others want to invest in you

Jason Shen
Jason Shen
4 min read
113: The Art of Being Mentorable

Everyone tells you to get a mentor if you want to grow faster, but has anyone ever told you how to be mentorable?

In sports, there's this idea that some athletes are more coachable than others and therefore can grow with coaching. And the same is true for people who want to cultivate relationships with people who are more experienced and more knowledgeable than they are.

To be mentorable, you have to think about why people offer mentorship in the first place. You're not getting paid and the people you're helping usually are less successful than you said. They don't have a way to directly help you. So, what is it that you're getting as a mentor?

Good vibes.

People offer mentorship first and foremost because it makes them feel good. Not for some tangible benefit.

They are passing on their experience, wisdom, knowledge, and suggestions to somebody who is younger motivated, maybe reminds them of themselves and holds them, the mentor, in high regard.

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Watch this piece as a video 👇

It is your success as a mentee and your gratefulness and recognition of the mentor that gives them the joy that motivates them to do this.

So mentorable people are:

  • flexible in how they connect with their mentor
  • curious and enthusiastic
  • have goals that they're striving toward
  • listen intently to what the mentor has to say
  • do their homework on the mentor
  • have a genuine sense of respect and admiration for the mentor
  • follow through on what the mentor suggested
  • or if they don't do it, they explain what they did instead and how the suggestions still made a difference and made them think differently about the situation
  • go back and thank the mentor after they've achieved something meaningful

Even if you're seeking mentorship, you can think about these qualities and realize that these are the kinds of things that would motivate you to be more involved and to help somebody out because they make it so easy. They make it so joyful.

To be honest. I'm not as mentorable as I could be. There's a mix of pride, ego, stubbornness, and defiance that makes it hard for me to build these kinds of relationships with people who are more senior to me. Plus some not-so-great experiences with people who have helped me out in the past but then made it seem like I really owed them something 😬

So where is even this advice coming from? Well, I may not be the best mentee, but I'm a pretty damn good mentor. And there are people in my life who have cultivated relationships with me, where I spend time talking to them about their world and supporting them and trying to offer advice and guidance to them.

They are mentorable and I'm simply summarizing the kinds of qualities I see in them. And in fact, it was even in a conversation with one of these mentees that even had the idea to do this video.

So if you are wondering why you don't get more out of mentoring relationships, or haven't been able to cultivate the kind of close, supportive dynamics that you see in other people think about whether you are  being adequately mentorable.

By cultivating the qualities of being mentorable, you can unlock the difference from having a few people that you talk to on occasion. And get a piece of advice here and there from, to having a rich network of individuals who are excited to hear from you, who are invested in your success, thinking about you and proactively sending you information and opportunities.

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Speaking of mentoring: I'm a small-time angel investor in a mentoring platform called Merit, which is democratizing the professional network. (Recall #109)

If you're a recent grad coming from an immigrant or nontraditional background for your field, you can grab time with me here. And if you're a more experienced leader, I would encourage you to build a mentor profile!

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Founder, exec coach, and product leader help people foster the conviction to take bold leaps in their work and life—so they can get closer to what really matters.