Everyone can use a mentor. Scratch that — as it turns out, we could all use five mentors. “The best mentors can help us define and express our inner calling,” says Anthony Tjan, CEO of Boston venture capital firm Cue Ball Group and author of Good People. “But rarely can one person give you everything you need to grow.”
So, Here are the top 5 mentors you really need in your life:
Mentor 1: Craft Master
“If you know you want to be the best in your field — whether it’s the greatest editor, football quarterback, entrepreneur — ask, Who are the most iconic figures in that area?” says Tjan. This person can function as your personal Jedi master, someone who’s accumulated their wisdom through years of experience and who can provide insight into your industry and fine-tuning your skills. Turn to this person when you need advice about launching a new initiative or brainstorming where you should work next.
Mentor 2: The champion
This mentor is someone who will talk you up to others, and it’s important to have one of these in your current workplace, says Tjan: “These are people who are advocates and who have your back.” But they’re more than just boosters — often, they can be connectors too, introducing you to useful people in your industry.
Mentor 3: The co-pilot
Another name for this type: Your best work bud. The copilot is the colleague who can talk you through projects, advise you in navigating the personalities at your company, and listen to you vent over coffee. This kind of mentoring relationship is best when it’s close to equally reciprocal.
Mentor 4: The backbone
This person doesn’t have to work in your industry — in fact, it could be a friend or family member. While your champion supports you to achieve specific career goals, your anchor is a confidante and a sounding board. “We’re all going to hit speed bumps and go through uncertainty in life,” says Tjan. “So we need someone who can give us a psychological lift and help us see light through the cracks during challenging times.”
Mentor 5: Reverse Learner
“When we say the word ‘mentor,’ we often conjure up the image of an older person or teacher,” says Tjan. “But I think the counterpoint is as important.” Pay attention to learning from the people you’re mentoring, even though they may have fewer years in the workplace than you. Talking to my mentees gives the opportunity to collect feedback on leadership style, engage with the younger generation, and keep perspectives fresh and relevant.”