Written by Tristan Pollock June 10, 2021
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
If there was one thing I would have done sooner in my startup career, it would have been to surround myself with solid mentors. That’s why after building and selling startups over the past decade I wanted to give more of my time back in order to support others in their startup journeys.
To be frank, there are so many reasons. I could shout out endless amounts of mentors who have helped me along my path, from managers at internships, to family, to friends, and on to my first bosses and accelerators, co-founders, and startup founders when I first moved to San Francisco.
Who made good mentors? Friends, as well as people that became friends over time because we had shared values. Specifically, friends with experiential knowledge that I didn’t have yet. They would be open with me and share advice in informal settings in order to support me as a human. Thank you to each of you. You know who you are.
How do you usually set up mentorships?
I’m a pretty informal person. I encourage brainstorming, ideating, and having fun while on mentor calls. If we can’t play off one another in a mutual, reciprocal relationship, then what’s the point. I can definitely give advice, but I also want to listen, ask questions, and help you understand your mission without always giving a direct answer. There are too many direct answers in my opinion. Very infrequently is there only one way to do something. It’s better to figure out the multiple paths and then choose the path of least resistance, or experiment with a few.
To kick off a mentorship, I'll ALWAYS have an initial video chat. It's so important to get to know someone on a human level, understand their person and their passions. From there I'll ask about their current biggest challenges and how they were looking to overcome them with this mentorship. Then there's usually some homework and additional things that are helpful to flesh out thinking, assumptions, and hypotheses. I like to think about everything as an experiment, you are trying and testing things to see what proves your thoughts true. Business is science.
What’s been your favourite mentorship story so far?
Wow, so many great people. I’ve mentored around 15 mentees so far and am qualified as a “Top Mentor” in my dashboard. Julie Layton was one of my favorites as she was able to work through the early stages of her tech startup and make it to a YC interview and fellowship while we worked together. Go get ‘em, Julie!
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed MentorCruise, because I’ve tried many mentorship platforms and MC focuses on providing structure and strong connections to people they think can help. They really care.
That said, I’ll let the mentees speak for themselves, too:
Garrett shared with me this feedback: “Tristan was great! He brought fantastic energy and awesome ideas to help me decide on my path moving forward.” Siddharth says: “Tristan is a great mentor, with a vast knowledge base on entrepreneurship, He has been very helpful in guiding me through the sheer complexity of information that you find online, his links being the best that you could find on the subject! I highly recommend Tristan as a mentor for budding entrepreneurs.”
What are you getting out of being a mentor?
Imposter syndrome is a real thing. Successful business people at the highest levels have it. They doubt their abilities, their experiences, and their mind. This is partially alleviated by mentorship. Humans are social beings and having a support network will boost your confidence in decision making, make you a better leader, and level up your career.
What’s a real-life example of this? Share your salary with three close friends in the same industry as you and get their feedback. Often times you undervalue your own time, in startups and in corporate life. Short answer: pay yourself more. That’s a simple way that friend mentors can help you.
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