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Issue #19: We Need More Than Just Mentors

I'm pretty grateful to have had the opportunity to trick really smart people into mentoring me. In th

James Costa

July 25 · Issue #19 · View online
A batch of thoughts, resources, and motivation from a friendly digital agency owner delivered every Monday at 6am ET.

I’m pretty grateful to have had the opportunity to trick really smart people into mentoring me. In the early days of starting and running an agency, these people helped me through decisions I didn’t even realize I needed to make and helped set the foundation for not only the agency as it stands today, but the person I am today. These amazing people continue to share their time, wisdom, and overwhelming experience, and never make me feel lesser.
If you don’t have a mentor; you should get one. The best ones share a mutual respect with you. I met the majority of my mentors through engaging in communities (either online or locally), asking others for connections, or by simply reaching out to people (trust me, it’s flattering). Mentors give you the power of perspective and foresight based on their experiences, and can help talk you through making decisions.
Lately, though, I’ve realized that mentors tend to be there for the logistical and less for the personal. That sounds obvious, right? Mentors are generally extremely seasoned professionals, and so your interactions with them might happen in infrequent emails or monthly calls. They’re hardly the people you’d shoot a quick message to to help talk you through your imposter’s syndrome.
For many people, our significant others or friends are the ones who hear most about these insecurities but often they may not have the adequate context to give advice. I don’t have a network of close friends that are in the same industry as I am, so what I’ve found extremely helpful lately has been building solid relationships with peers who share similar roles and experiences. (While I consider these peers friends, for purpose of distinction I’m calling them something different.)
You see a lot of this new model of mentorship / friendship / peership(?) in groups like the Entrepreneurs Organization, Bureau of Digital, and in some AIGA chapters where people in similar roles or industries share at a more personal level. These groups encourage participants to put aside the bullshit elevator pitches and be real. It takes a certain level of maturity to approach conversations with others in this way, but realizing your problems aren’t unique is extremely liberating. Even if you don’t have a formal setting to engage in these sorts of discussions, I encourage you to go out and build relationships with like-minded peers and try opening up. Have lunch, try and drop the work-talk, and build a friendship. Be there for them as often as you can, and they’ll do the same.
Mentorship isn’t broken, but it’s not everything you need. I realize I basically wrote about getting new friends this week, but the power of having a balanced arsenal of people to leverage when you need them is invaluable.
Here’s to making some new friends this week. 💪
P.S.: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing this newsletter. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or starting a local club where you reflect with friends on what I write, it would mean the world to me.

Good Reads
The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time
Why Are You Self Sabotaging Your Productivity?
Beyond the Holacracy Hype
Make it count
Dear Artists / Designers / Bleeding Heart Creative Friends
Weekly Motivation
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia
In Closing
This week my humble little email got a sweet feature on the Explore page of Revue under “Entrepreneurship” (which is ironic given my thoughts on the word). I’m extremely flattered, and want everyone to know I appreciate the ongoing emails, messages, and tweets. They sincerely keep me going.
If you have any questions or I can help you in any way, all you have to do is respond to this email.
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