• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

Mentors Are Like Mushrooms: Avoid The Toxic Ones!

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By Franck Nouyrigat (Co-Founder & CTO, Startup Weekend)

In the last couple of years, I have seen more and more incubators growing and more and more “mentors” helping them. My concern is in regard to the drop of quality I see in mentoring — not to mention that most of the entrepreneurs don’t know how to recognize a bad one…

If you want to go to the root of it, I recommend reading the blog posts of Steve Blank and David Cohen about mentors.

I agree with the semantic differences between a teacher, mentor and coach (here to simplify, I just call them mentors as most of the people falsely do). In a way, you can see a teacher becoming a mentor. It’s all about how successful your teacher is compared to you (ie. if he as a Nobel Prize in Physics, I would consider him a mentor). Secondly, mentors and apprentice have a bilateral relation — one is learning from the other.

Enjoy the presentation, and remember avoid TOXIC MENTORS. Develop your unfair advantages and keep working on expanding your knowledge!

Mentor was a character in the famous Homer’s Odysseus:

She was disguised to resemble Mentor, a wise chief who had led the Taphians in the Trojan war. Telemachos rose at once, like a gracious host, and took the right hand of the stranger and gave him a hearty welcome.

Here, “she” refers to Athena (Greeks loved complicated stories). You can see that Mentor was a chief — a leader — who had led an army (pretty impressive) to the biggest war of all time!

This post was originally posted at The Franck.

About the guest blogger: Franck Nouygirat is a Co-Founder and CTO of Startup Weekend, a 54-hour startup event that provides the networking, resources, and incentives for individuals and teams to go from idea to launch. Follow him on Twitter at @peignoir.