By: Jasmine Monquie Lewis
In our M.A.C.S [book]: Mentors, Advisors, Coaches & Sponsors series, we will define each role, discuss how each role can be instrumental in your entrepreneurship success, and how to locate or identify these people in your life. Throughout the series, I will state important lessons or takeaways that can benefit you. In this first chapter, we will introduce and define our M.A.C.S acronym, its relevance and the three qualities each role must possess to be effective.
Throughout my personal and professional life, I have been fortunate to have each one of the M.A.C.S [book]: Mentors, Advisors, Coaches & Sponsors. Rather the relationship was long or short term, I grew both personally and professionally, and learned valuable life lessons that I continue to use today. In a previous experience, I mistakenly selected someone to be my mentor who lacked empathy, compassion and the ability to mentor. Unknowingly, the individual was more of an advisor than a mentor. After this negative encounter, I do not want other entrepreneurs to fall victim. You can learn or grow from every person that enters your life. It is up to you to convert a negative into a positive. It is imperative that entrepreneurs be able to accurately identify individuals who come into their lives offering guidance or assistance as a Mentor, Advisor, Coach or Sponsor. Being able to identify an individual’s role can save you time, heartache and headache.
Commonalities to Success
Every successful entrepreneur, from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates, had at least one mentor, advisor, coach or sponsor in their lives that offered guidance or assistance in the journey to fulfill their purpose. Let’s take Steve Jobs for example. Before Steve Job’s infamous “reality distortion field”, introduction of the iPhone and iPad, Jobs was a young adult trying to navigate this terrain called life. In college, Jobs met his first mentor, Robert Friedland, a future billionaire mining magnate, who would help shape Steve Jobs into a charismatic marketer.  During Jobs early twenties and early days of Apple Computer, he was advised by Bill Campbell, a famous Silicon Valley advisor for tech companies.  Throughout Jobs successes and failures, he sought direction from others who could assist him in fulfilling his vision of making a “computer for the rest of us”. 
Rather you are an inspiring, startup and mid-career entrepreneur, you cannot fulfill your dreams or achieve your version of success alone. After all, Apple Computer had two Steves.
As an ode to visionary Steve Jobs and my mentor from a distance, we will call Mentors, Advisors, Coaches & Sponsors: the M.A.C.S [book].
A Mentor is someone who offers guidance, assistance, professional and emotional support, and possess skills and/or knowledge you seek. You can think of a mentor as a teacher who takes you by the hand and guides you to your destination. A mentor is a person who models what you seek to perform well or become, listen, provide constructive feedback, and invested in your success and growth. A mentor-mentee (protégé) relationship requires trust, honesty, openness and mutual respect. Unlike the advisor, coach or sponsor, a mentor must know and understand your dreams and goals. More importantly, a mentor is the person you can express vulnerability by sharing your good, bad and ugly to, without fear of damaging the relationship.
When I started my entrepreneurship journey, I was not very selective about my mentor. On your journey of entrepreneurship, you will meet people who offer guidance and take an interest in you. Always remember to ask “what does this person get out of this?” and “why have he/she taken an interest in me”?
Mentors are a support system that every entrepreneur needs to be successful. By having someone who is successful in your industry or craft assist in curtailing your mistakes and identifying improvement areas will allow you to reach your goals in a shorter period.
You must be extremely selective when determining your mentor.
An advisor, an individual who have experience or success in you craft or industry, who offers advice on a need to know basis. The relationship between an advisor and advisee is usually formal. When you have specific questions or seeking feedback, advisors play a pivotal role in steering you in a wise direction based on their experience. In addition, advisors can facilitate introductions to vital influencers and shakers in your industry.
When I first coined my idea for a trading card gamer social network in college, I did not know how to begin nor the correct questions to ask to begin. A friend introduced me to a recent graduate of our college who became my advisor for a short period. After I clearly communicated the concept, he allowed me to borrow his computer science book, Beginning PHP5, Apache, and MySQL Web Development. Furthermore, he assisted by demonstrating how to install Xammp, configuring databases and using my first text editor, Komodo. I would frequently visit him to ask questions and receive assistance. Advisors offer relevant advice when you need guidance.
Unlike mentors who act as a support system, advisors provide critical guidance to your situations or circumstances.
A Coach is someone who improve performance and results. Unlike advisors who provide direction to specific situations or mentors who are support systems, coaches may or may not have personally experienced your desired results, but are trained to generate outcomes in the domain. Coaches assist in clarifying your goals and improving results.
If you want to improve performance or achieve specific results, coaches have strategies for you to obtain your goals.
A Sponsor is an individual who possess a high level of influence, achievement and success. A sponsor can connect you to people who can impact your career and capitulate your trajectory. You only share your good and your best with a sponsor. It is pivotal that you let a sponsor know why you are qualified and the best for the job.
If you want to get into the right doors and seat at the necessary tables, a sponsor can connect and vouch for you.
Sponsors are rare. When you have the opportunity to meet a potential sponsor, always allow them to see you at your best.
The Three “C”s
For an effective and successful relationship with each of the M.A.C.S [book] roles, the individual must possess these three essential qualities: character, compassion and commitment.
- Character – guided by and have good/moral ethics
- Compassion – sincere, understanding and empathy towards you and your dreams
- Commitment – dedicated to your growth and achievement
I hope you all learn the role, relevance and qualities of a Mentor, Advisor, Coach and Sponsor. Until next time!
One last thing: you cannot achieve any success by living on an island, so get your M.A.C.S [book]!