I recently attended a SCORE luncheon where the presenter commented that we live in a “VUCA” world. VUCA meaning volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. I’m typically not a huge fan of such corporate-speak, but in this instance I thought it was a perfect distillation of the daily challenges we all face personally and professionally.
There’s no better time than early January to consider your goals for the year. If you’re still debating your top New Year’s Resolution candidate, let me make a suggestion to survive this VUCA world: get a mentor.
A mentor is any experienced and trusted advisor. While we often think of them only when they use that title, this role can be found in many different places. I’ve had numerous mentors help me throughout my life:
- A law school advisor who helped me land my first legal job in a very difficult job market.
- Coaches at our gym that have guided me to achieve my fitness goals.
- Friends and family who provide an objective voice to help me resolve sticky personal situations.
Even if not usually called mentors, each of them served as a mentor to me: they provided trusted, valuable advice through their experience that helped me make informed decisions to overcome complex challenges. In any one of those challenges, I’m not sure that I could’ve done it alone. You don’t have to either, as there are plenty of people willing to offer a helping hand. Here are a few ideas on places to look for mentors:
Organizations dedicated to mentorship: Many organizations have mentoring programs. One local organization we often recommend is SCORE, which pairs small business owners with volunteer mentors who are experienced entrepreneurs and business executives. SCORE also provides guidance through its workshops, roundtable events, and newspaper articles (like this one from local SCORE mentor Kevin St. Cyr about tips to become a successful startup).
Another local example is Assets who provides 1-on-1 coaching on financial issues. Assets can also help starting and growing businesses find loans and other investments.
Professional advisors: Your business team of professional advisors can also be a valuable resource. Many issues I confront in the legal profession are only quasi-legal in nature, requiring problem solving beyond the law. Our professional training and experience with a variety of clients lends itself to not only deal with issues as they arise but also to anticipate issues before they become problems. The same can be said for your accountant, IT professionals, and other professionals.
Friends, family, and friends of friends/family: Don’t overlook the opportunity to pick the brain of a trusted family member or friend on a challenge you’ve been facing. I’ve had many great conversations with friends, family members, or friends of friends/family that have helped me see things in a different light or consider a different approach. Just be prepared to listen to their responses, not merely vent at them and walk away when they try to respond.
Need help finding a mentor? Give me a call! I would be happy to brainstorm options and help you find the mentors you need. Happy New Year to you (and your mentors) in 2019!
Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs.