How to be a great mentor, with Stephen Woessner.

Episode 173

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Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and host of the Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, speaker, trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other media.

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Good Morning Onward Nation…this is Stephen Woessner, host of America’s best podcast for learning how today’s top business owners Think, Act, and Achieve. And when I am not interviews today’s top business owners — I am serving as the CEO of Predictive ROI.

I am thankful, Onward Nation, that you have made the decision to be here — with me — right now.


Because we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day — we all have the same number of sacred seconds — so I consider you being here a sacred exchange of time for value. And I know that I need to be excellent during each and every solocast. In order to be excellent, Onward Nation — I have to put in the effort — because it is only through effort can I hope to deliver enough value necessary for you to consider this to be a worthwhile exchange for your time.

But let me share a secret with you. There is an additional motivation — an additional force that pushes me — that drives me to be excellent during each and every episode. Working hard — demonstrating what it takes to be excellent — not only provides you with value — but it publicly sets a standard of what is acceptable here at Onward Nation and Predictive ROI. My team sees that — our clients see that — and they see what it means to be commitment to being outstanding, every day, without exception. A standard of excellence — a standard of awesome.

That is how committed I am today solocast topic — how to be a great mentor.

My most vital priority within Predictive ROI is mentorship — I am fully committed, Onward Nation, to being the mentor our team members need each day. My greatest gift that I can offer my team is mentorship. To be there to praise them when they need to be praised. To be there to kick them in the pants when they need to be kicked. To be there to hug them when they need to be hugged. To be a friend — to be a motivator — to ask them hard questions — to help them see they can be more powerful than they could ever possibly imagine. To help show them the abundance of God given talent they already possess.

And Onward Nation — that is your role as a business owner, too. So we are going to focus today’s discussion toward the critical topic of mentorship.

Because whether you want to be one or not — whether you have accepted the tremendous responsibility that mentorship represents or not — whether you focus on mentorship as your most vital priority — you are one, Onward Nation.

Just like in parenting — right now — there is someone on your team who is watching your every move — and your actions — your actions are showing them your standard — your standard of you deem to be acceptable. Are you setting excellence as your standard — or something else? Are you showing them how to become more? Or are you showing them how to become or remain average?

With all of that said — I don’t consider myself a great mentor — but I am striving to get better every day. How or from whom do I learn from in order to make this pursuit of excellence a reality?

I work hard and learn every day by studying the incredible wisdom shared by our amazing Onward Nation guests. And during today’s solocast, I am going to share with you several very specific ingredients I have learned from our guests so you can be a great mentor. Please take and apply these ingredients within your company — so you can create Mentorship Excellence with your team.

Over the past several weeks, I have conducted eight ENCORE interviews with Onward Nation alums. So far, eight guests have already come back to Onward Nation to share their insights on how to be a great mentor. I am grateful for their extreme generosity and demonstration of what it means to be excellence. I love that.

So, my special thanks to…

  • Scott McKain, episodes 1 and 136
  • Don Yaeger, episodes 2 and 160
  • David Long, episodes 5 and 139
  • Shane Stott, episodes 8 and 150
  • Marty Wolff, episodes 7 and 143
  • David Mammano, episodes 17 and 145
  • Larry Broughton, episodes 18 and episode 166
  • Nancy Marshall, episodes 19 and 135
  • Drew McLellan, episode 32 and 167
  • Dr. Marcie Beigel, episodes 82 and 144

Thank you, Onward Nation alumni — you inspire all of those around you each and every day — and it is an honor to call you friends — to call you “mentor.” You have taught me so much.

Okay, Onward Nation — without further adieu — let’s dig in. Here’s how to become a great mentor.

Ingredient #1: “Be willing to have difficult conversations” — Drew McLellan

We as mentors need to have the courage — be brave enough — to ask better questions. Don’t be dispensers of advice — instead — resist the temptation to give your mentees all of the answers. Ask open-ended questions. Press them to think and find their own solutions.

Drew has taught me that a great mentor is present. A great mentor is present to celebrate. But it is easy to be great when it is all sunshine and rainbows — when there is something to celebrate. But greatness is also having the courage to be present to commiserate — to share in the losses — to show your team how to bounce back into the light. To climb out of defeat — even if it is one inch at a time, Onward Nation.

Drew also taught me how to be regular — to be consistent with your mentorship. Mentorship is not a part-time vital priority. It is your most vital priority, Onward Nation. It is not a sometimes thing — it is an all the time thing.

Ingredient #2: “You have to have a mentor to be a mentor” — Larry Broughton

In order to be a great mentor — you have to humble yourself and realize that you in fact need a mentor. Every great business leader — every great person — is able to point back to the mentor or mentors he or she had to push them along their journey. And one of the most important skill that we as leaders — as mentors must possess — is the drive — the hunger — to keep learning. Your ongoing education from podcasts, books, conferences, mentors, represent a body of knowledge and experiences you can then share with your mentees.

And lastly, Larry taught me the importance of just starting. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the mistake of thinking there are people who are better than you and that you don’t have anything to offer as a mentor. Those thoughts, Onward Nation, are the imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head. Don’t listen — press on!

Ingredient #3: “Your mentees must be active participants” — Don Yaeger

Don has been one of the most influential mentors in my life. During our encore interview, he shared how he frequently receives requests for his mentorship. He always replies to each request with the framework and expectations he has for an excellent mentee. And then majority of people never reply. Why? Because being an excellent mentee is hard work — but most prospective mentees have the perception that getting a mentor is a way to find someone to do the work for you. No! A great mentors will force their mentees to be an active participant in the mentor-mentee relationship — otherwise you can’t mentor them, Onward Nation!

Ingredient #4: “Be the change you want to see” — Carl Wright

Carl taught me how great mentors are fully transparent with their team — they allow their team members to see the wins and to see the losses. We should alway strive for excellence — 100 percent of the time. But winning 100 percent of the time will never happen. Each loss can be used as a wonderful learning experience — to give us that pit in our stomach — that bitter taste in your mouth — that you never want to experience ever again. And part of being transparent with your team is consistent communication with your entire team — your entire business — Carl taught me to allow your team to see your mindset — to let them behind the green curtain — or better yet — raise the curtain. And let your team inside — they will love you for it.

Ingredient #5: “Set the example” — Shane Stott

I have seen first hand how Shane leads his team. I have spend many days on-site with him and his team — watched as he facilitated meeting with his team — watched as he committed the resources necessary to achieve big goals within his companies. Inspiring to watch. Leading and making the initial decisions is the easy part, Onward Nation. But Shane showed me the critical importance of staying connected with those who you are mentoring — it is a consistent process of checking in — mentoring up — making adjustments — and continual guidance.

Ingredient #6: “Your mentees are watching your every step” — David Mammano

Dave stressed to me the importance of being cognizant of what you’re doing — just like in parenting. Your teammates, Onward Nation, are watching your every step. So if you are not committed to excellence — and you do it half-way — don’t be surprised when you get a half effort. If you are not willing to take out the trash — don’t be surprised when others on your team don’t think it is their responsibility either. If you are not willing to work late — you are setting an example. Dave taught me the critical importance of not just saying what your mentees should do — but — be the example — by doing it yourself.

Ingredient #7: “Be clear on how your mentee can do it better” — Dr. Marcie Beigel

Dr. Marcie’s two interviews were powerful. She is a behavioral expert so our conversations along with the lessons learned dug deep into the psychological motivations of mentees and mentors alike. For example…one of Dr. Marcie’s principles is to say what you mean and mean what you say — which is one of the best ways to ensure you are being clear with your expectations of mentees. How can you expect to hold your mentees accountable when you have not provided clear expectations? If you have not done that, Onward Nation — you need to know that is on you — not your mentees. And yes, it will be scary to work through the details — to provide that level of precise mentorship when you may have never done it before. But, as Dr. Marcie so eloquently said to me, “Stephen — be scared and do it anyway.” BAM!

Ingredient #8: “Model the behavior you expect of others” — Marty Wolff

Marty taught me how to be a great mentor from the perspective of integrity. How can someone be a great mentor without integrity — without being the shining example of what is ethical? And yet, business leaders attempt to do it — yet — eventually it catches up to them. Marty stressed to Onward Nation that a great mentor needs to be of high integrity all the time, always look for an opportunity to help someone, and help their mentees see all their possibilities. Help them, Onward Nation, see how they can become more — and — are capable of just that. That they have been blessed with an abundance of God given talents — and your greatest gift to them as their mentor — is to help instill in them the guts and courage to apply all of their gifts and talents.

Ingredient #10: “Be the mentor you’d want to mentor you” — David Long

I absolutely love this lesson from David. If you want to be a great mentor to your mentees — think about the kind of mentor you would want to mentor you. What would he or she do — teach you — how would that person push you — encourage you — and help you grow? Part of being great is to analyze — diagnose — identify all of these points — and then you push yourself to become more to embody those things. Being a great mentor is also the perfect opportunity to groom your team to take over for you — so you can exit the day to day operations of the business giving you the time to focus on your most vital priorities — like being a great mentor.

Ingredient #11: “Walk the talk — so people know whether or not you can do it” — Scott McKain

Scott teaches us the ultimate in credibility indicator. This lesson of greatness is more than being willing to perform the day-to-day tasks in your company as a good leader — or a good example should. Instead, it is about you holding your team accountable by walking the talk. For example, great mentors beget great mentors. You must encourage and push your mentees to also be great mentors — to get out there and find mentees of their own. That is how they learn a completely different level of awesome then they could have learned from you. They need to be in the trenches all on their own. I have several mentors who hold me accountable to walk the talk — and I walk the talk with my mentees every day — and I hold them accountable so they walk the talk with their mentees. So walk the talk, Onward Nation.

Ingredient #12: “Spend time with your employees — both in and out of the office — this is how they’ll learn” — Nancy Marshall

And bringing us home with this very important discussion is the lesson from Nancy — how can you expect, Onward Nation, for your team to learn from your when your on-boarding process is a baptism by fire. When on their first day at your company — they have a client meeting that afternoon? That is not setting your team up for success — that is setting them up for horrible failure. Instead, take them under your wing — show them how it is done — that is how they will learn your standards of excellence — and your employees want your time. The time you can spend with them — one-on-one is treasured and can be special opportunities for not just mentorship — but also relationships. If you don’t invest in your team — don’t expect them to invest their hearts and minds into your business. Spend the time, Onward Nation — being a great mentor is not something you do as you run past someone’s office — or the occasional high five in the hallway. Nancy’s emphasis on teaching is an excellent principle — because being great requires that we teach — everything we know. That is how you help create A Players, Onward Nation.

So with that…I want to say thank you again for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here — thank you for tuning in — I am delighted you chose this episode to be what you listen to, study, and take with you on your morning run, or maybe Onward Nation has become part of your daily commute, or in some other way has become part of your morning routine.

However our daily podcast fits into your daily routine — I want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds you have in your day with me and the strategies we learn and share each day from today’s top business owners.

And please continue to let me know what you think of Onward Nation…good or bad…I always want your feedback. My direct email address is [email protected] — and yes — that is my actual Inbox. No fancy filters or filing system and I read and reply to every single email.

So please let me know how you think we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you.

We will be back tomorrow with an incredible ENCORE interview with Stacy Tuschl, the author of the book “Is Your Business Worth Saving?” and the host of the amazing brand new podcast Business Rescue Road Map.

Until then, onward with gusto!

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