Mentors Can’t Get The Job Done

Champions Can Save the Day!


I was talking with Shawna Butler about how to bring more young women into our entrepreneurship program here at Illinois State University. As a little background, I have talked to roughly 500 female entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and small business owners in the past year to develop Legacy Out Loud.  On almost every phone call with every one of those women, they have pointed out the importance of including a strong mentor program into our program.

Shawna shocked me, which is not easily done. She said “we don’t need mentoring, we need championing.” As she explained, a mentor, for the most part, will usually tell or help a mentee figure out how to do something. A task. A learning goal. There’s a whole lot of supportive and exploratory talking. It is a valuable relationship, no doubt about it. But Shawna had a great perspective I never thought about to be honest. Blew my mind!

Instead of introducing a mentor program, she suggested introducing a Champion Program. A champion will help someone he/she is working with in the task/goal arena just as a mentor. But wait, there’s more! A champion will also put his/her name and reputation on the line for another person. They will advocate for that person. They will champion that person’s future (in the case of college students).

Mentors Talk the Talk, Champions Walk the Walk

As a young college student, I had some idea where I was going. I had mentors helping me figure out my goals. They helped me learn certain tasks that are very valuable to this day. Only one of them stuck their neck out for me, and put their reputation on the line for me. She was my champion, and it made all the difference in the world. Shawna, you’re a genius! Thank you for opening my eyes.

PS – If you are a mentor, should you be a champion instead?

PPS – Do you need a champion?


2 thoughts on “Mentors Can’t Get The Job Done

  1. Pingback: Mentors Can’t Get The Job Done - Ian.Golightly

  2. Clint Day

    “One aspect of sending out the cause and preparation for opportunity is that of a mentor. My father served as an early example of a self-employed insurance broker specializing in a specific trade. He also exposed me to effective underwriting and accounting practices that built a solid foundation for my future. Every aspiring entrepreneur should follow a similar path. Mentors fill gaps and help people grow by sharing their knowledge and by providing advice and encouragement. A beginner should try to choose a mentor who is already successful in the field they want to pursue. A mentor can be a boss or just an acquaintance. When I ask my students to interview business owners, they consistently report a willingness on the part of entrepreneurs to share their stories. Almost without exception, successful people like to be asked about their experience, want to share their knowledge, and are open to all manner of questions. To them it’s a validation of their achievements. The more successful a person is, it seems, the easier they are to approach, and this fact can be used to advantage by every person starting out.
    Aspiring entrepreneurs have to know what they need in terms of mentorship, to be responsible, and to invest time in a good relationship. Mentoring is so important to new ventures the Small Business Administration (SBA) includes it as one of its ten steps to “Starting a Business.” FROM UPCOMING BOOK ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP.


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