One of the main challenges for young professionals is to find a mentor who can guide them in their career. It’s a critical issue; the right choice can accelerate their success and the wrong choice can hold them back.
 
What’s the best way forward?
 
It’s not straightforward as the “mentor environment ” is replete with many people talking about many things. The airwaves are cluttered with opinions and advice.
 
Subject matter “experts” abound on every topic.
 
Who do you listen to? Who do you believe? Who do you trust? Who do you follow?
 
And how do you recognize when someone is “blowing smoke” at you and feeding their own ego?
 
My advice is to be guided by individuals who have had a rich and long career actually “doing stuff”.
 
Lots of stuff.
 
People who have demonstrated achievements in the areas that intrigue you. If you love marketing, for example, discover a marketing professional who has a track record of achieving cool results around products, advertising and go to market activity.
 
Find people who have implemented successful strategies in an environment of organizational politics, cultural impediments and the “wars” of competition – the real world where achieving anything is messy and inelegant.
 
Be wary of those who merely postulate what should be done based on textbook doctrine alone. 
 
Theory and academic principles are not always trustworthy beacons for what works and what doesn’t work in the real business world. 
 
Just because theory says it is the right thing to do doesn’t mean it is. There are too many variables that can never be explained by theoretical doctrine.
Look to people who “have been there” for guidance.
 
These are people who have learned that a minor portion of theory with a major dose of practicality is the formula for success.
 
Looked for those who have a track record of failure.
 
Don’t get mesmerized by the blue oceans and those that profess that they exist.
 
It’s a risky strategy for your future. 
 
Find someone who has consistently “won in the swamp” to be your mentor.
Written By
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.You can also read more of Roy Osing's articles at his website.