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Why your mentor doesn’t need to be a CEO

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By Nick Bell, a five x AFR young rich-lister and founder of 12 global digital agencies including First Page Digital, Lisnic and Removify.


Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party? Instinctively, you think of the iconic name and for me a few that come to mind for me are Tiger Woods, Winston Churchill, & Elon Musk.

Similar thinking might apply when seeking out an ideal mentor. Most people would jump at the chance for some face time with Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffett. But these guys are on a different level. And forget about getting into their diary.

I’ve been both mentor and mentee many times in my career, trying to absorb as much as I can from those more experienced than me, then passing it on to the up-and-coming generation.

My experience has been that great mentors don’t always come from the top of the tree, or even the most obvious places.


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Mentorship has been such a force in the success of my businesses that I decided last year to start building a global online platform that could connect mentors and mentees from anywhere in the world. Lisnic, has only just launched and I am pretty chuffed to say that we already have some amazing mentors on the platform like Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph.

My first mentor, my father, taught me so much – not just how to fix cars and work on the farm, but also about being a better human being. And no matter how many businesses, I started, failed and started again, he was always there for me. That’s really powerful.

One of those businesses, Australian digital marketing agency WME, sold for $39 million nine years after it launched, and I have now founded and own 12 international digital agencies, and been on the AFR Young Rich List five times.

These days, I might have up to 10 mentors I can call on at any one time, each with their own superpower that I can call on when I need something really specific.

Undoubtedly you could learn so much from a person like Marc, but Netflix is such a juggernaut not just because of one great idea or person, but because hundreds of extraordinarily talented people bought into that idea and gave it life, making it able to work on every screen anywhere in the world. Think of the talent, determination and work ethic it takes for a relatively small group to achieve so much, so quickly. Think of the experience in a group like that, and the wisdom they could impart as mentors.

The same is true in many organisations, where extraordinary talent could be hidden from sight behind a high-profile CEO. They’re the engine room driving ideas, opportunities, strategy, implementation and quality. And then there are the entrepreneurs, the digital disruptors, the mavericks rewriting the rules. You might not have heard of them. Yet.

Personally, I’ve been mentored by several people over the years and these people are not household names. Good chance you have never heard of them. It doesn’t mean they’re not great at their craft. I have multiple mentors for a variety of facets of my life and aside from my family, my mentors have had the great impact on my life in a positive way.

Great mentorship, in my experience, develops you as a human being. Not only in business but in life generally. You begin to look at the world differently. You begin to realise that you can achieve more in life than you thought.


ALSO READ – “There is nothing more transformational”: Melissa Richardson on the value of mentors


So, your search for a mentor now has more than an idealistic handful of CEOs in mind. Look for mentors with relevant, relatable experience who can add real value for you.

Or, you can always do what I do – assemble a team of mentors, each with their own superpower that I can call on when I need something really specific.

Actually, there’s no right or wrong way to find the best mentor for you. Just don’t fall into the trap of approaching the decision with a stereotype in mind, because the perfect fit might be the one you never expected.


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Nick Bell
Nick Bell is a five x AFR young rich-lister and founder of 12 global digital agencies including First Page Digital, Lisnic and Removify.