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7 Street Smart Ways to Get a Mentor

by Larry Chiang on October 26, 2017

By Larry Chiang
Getting a mentor is at the heart of succeeding after college. Approaching mentorship is boiled down into a listicle of “7 Street Smart Ways to Get a Mentor”. 
A lot of these are going to be massively counterintuitive. But to me, Paul Graham, Serena Williams and Keith Rabois, they’re second nature
Paul Graham (@paulg)
founders lose by making unforced errors.

I will attack “7 Street Smart Ways to Get a Mentor” by listing out the normal loser way and then the counterintuitive method. Afterwards, I’ll try to reveal the justification for why the street smart way works. 

Normal, loser way: “Toss a Hail Mary asking a potential mentor for a coffee.”
Larry Chiang (@LarryChiang)
*How to close (the “deal”) for a mentor, over a real world coffee* #ch5…

counterintuitive, street smart way: Ask for a telephone conversation. In the phone conversation, have a specific agenda that you email. 

Larry Chiang (@LarryChiang)
Trust. Be Public about how you thank a mentor. #ch5…

Think about thanking your mentor like it’s a Venmo payment to your cohorts. You’re letting the world know you pay your friends. “Pay” your mentor by thanking your mentor. 

-2- Priming the mentor pump by getting a faux mentor. 

Yes, fake getting a mentor by thanking a mentor. This charlattan maneuver is socially engineered to become real by going through these steps. 

– Read a book. 
– Apply the book’s knowledge. 
– Thank the mentor. 
– Rethank the mentor. Because they did mentor you via their book or their CS183b Lec 5 video that’s free on YouTube. 

Your next mentor wants to see that you were a faithful and loyal mentee. 

Speaking of Peter Thiel…, here is his cofounder

Keith Rabois (@rabois)
@paulg @garrytan The challenge is that they are so counter-intuitive that if you just avoided the mistakes you might have an 80% prospect for success.

This leads me to point #3

-3- Be the mentee to a common mentor. 

Getting Tom Brady to mentor you about being a QB is going to be hard. Getting #TomHouse to mentor you is going to be hard too. 

Larry Chiang (@LarryChiang)
Top 20. It’s tough to crack. Let’s roll the dice and keep on being #TomHouse mentees

Larry Chiang (@LarryChiang)
Me & Mark share the same mentor! DJ in Geoffrey Moore, Eric Ries, S Blank & @tjkosnik = “Cross the Chasm, FromTheRight” #ctcFTR

-4- A great mentee brings deal flow to their mentor. 
Larry Chiang (@LarryChiang)
Wanna mentor? 
1/See a tweet. (Like it
2/Do that tweet
3/Tweet. Yo @jowyang/@Britopian/@bjfogg/#larryCHIANG, I did that thing u tweet’d #ch5

Download the 

xCEO of Duck9, Larry (@6502838008)
I can tell in 2-seconds whether someone under 25 is getting coached cc @LarryChiang‘s mentor’s #ch5 [#WTDTYAHBS chapter on mentorship]…


Larry Chiang (@LarryChiang)
Counter intuitive = Your mentor will learn from you too (maybe more bc mentors learn fast). See @KDTrey5 in the HBO doc film from 2012. #ch5


Paul Graham (@paulg)
Startups lose by making unforced errors.

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