Episode 410 – Success with Mentors

Today, I will highlight two examples to approaching someone you may want as a mentor, or from whom you would just like a little advice. Why does this matter? Because as you go through life, you will find, from time to time, that you wish to learn or try new things, — or that you may start a business or side hustle — and a great way to avoid mistakes that are obvious to someone with experience, but not obvious to you, is to hold an interview, go to a demo, become an intern, or find a mentor.

And in the last few weeks, I have been approached by two people with very different approaches and they got very different reactions from me. It made me think – let’s look at the two approaches and learn from that.

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  • I will be out of town at Jack Spirko’s Spring workshop giving a presentation on building community so the next two episodes this week will be replays and I have chosen some good ones.
  • Tales from the Prepper Pantry
    • We preserved too much food last year
    • Cool Canning opener from a 3d printer arrived, will test it when I get back
    • Sweet potatoes are coming to an end — starting slips
    • Starting to come to the end of last year’s pork 

    Operation Independence

    • Outdoor kitchen 2.0 plans are underway 

Main content of the show: Approaching a Mentor

There is nothing that will give a person pause as when someone asks to be mentored. That is a pretty big ask. Almost as big as getting married. Just kidding. It’t not that big. But being a good mentor takes time, thought and follow-through.

Over my life, I have asked three people if they would mentor me. Two of the three did a horrible job. But I have been mentored by many many along the way — and gotten a hand up and helpful advice from hundreds more.

A few weeks ago, I got two emails. Neither were asking for me to mentor them, but they were both seeking direction. Bth were about the coffee roasting business. Both got responses from me. One I was not only willing, but eager to help. The other quickly transitioned into an uncomfortable conversation that was taking scarce time. The former landed a call with me, the latter has disappeared into the ether.

The other day I told some folks about these two interactions, including the email I penned but did not send that said, “It doesn’t seem like you are very interested in pursuing this.” I was pretty grumpy that day and may have been missing some tone from the former email.

Person A, Email 1

  • Made a connection to why they wanted to talk with me (community)
  • Asked the question up front
  • Gave background

Person B

  • Started with the back story about them
  • Made no personal connection 
  • Offered to be an unpaid intern
  • …I wasn’t sure they knew much about coffee really


Person A

  • Scheduled call — attended call — had great questions
  • Was cognizant of the time and did not try to linger

(She was already dedicated to the path)

Person B

  • Replied to my suggestions with explanations of what they had tried and failed
  • Ignored the offer of paid training
  • Complained about running into barriers in the industry

(In the planning steps…)



Person A

  • Did a bunch of research after the call
  • Sent a short email with a quick question

Person B

  • An email with a non-excited sounding bit of interest in paid training. Maybe. On a roaster that is different than the one they want to get.
  • More complaints about dead ends

Finding a mentor or getting advice is sort of like dating. You do not go all in at once. You take things a step at a time and when the fit isnt good, move one before you get to invest. 

  • Time is spare and you are asking a favor
  • Does the person have experience in the area you need?
  • Personal connection matters
  • Icantium will kill the momentum of your relationship — avoid communicating it at all costs
  • A little background research goes a long way

This isn’t very different than sales, only it is much easier to get access to folks for some quick advice than it is to part someone from their cash. It is still a transaction – they are giving you their time and knowledge, you are giving them a feeling if happiness from helping someone out. But in a world where lots of people want a little advice, it is much easier to invest this time into someone who seems like they will do something with it, has a positive outlook, does a little research, and is mindful of time investments.

The funny thing about this interaction is that I realized something after all was said and done. Remember those two terrible mentors I mentioned? They were not terrible because they failed me. They were terrible because I failed them. I needed to be clear on what I was seeking. To find mindful ways to seek improvement and to learn things in between meetings.

Instead, I got stuck in a cycle of Icantium and waiting. And the longer I waited, the less likely it was to happen.

Life lessons can be humbling.

Song: Special by Sauce

GUYS! Don’t forget about the cookbook, Cook With What You Have by Nicole Sauce and Mama Sauce. 


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