Like a guiding compass, a mentor makes the path forward clear. Their experience in life and business gives them oracle-like power to guide you to success. Securing the perfect mentor can be tricky. You need to find alignment of values and relevance in their knowledge. But what if you could choose anyone in the world to mentor you? Anyone you can think of, no matter how far fetched?
I asked entrepreneurs to tell me their ideal mentors and why they chose them. Interestingly, the responses fell into three main categories. Many choose their ideal candidate based on sheer business acumen, hoping their experience and insights would help their own quest. Others choose based on different metrics. Firstly, there are those individuals who have a different take on life and, secondly, role models who would serve to inspire.
Mentors with business acumen
The largest group of dream mentors are hugely successful entrepreneurs, starting with none other than one of the richest men in the world. “I’d want Bill Gates as my mentor,” requested Grig Richters, “He’s not just a brilliant businessman but also an incredible philanthropist and someone who has always stayed curious and never stops learning.”
Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy is described as “one of the best business heads in the world”, someone who “has taken Tottenham from being a small club into a top 6 club” by Simon Cornelius of Cornelius Creative, “He provided the best stadium in the world and had the forward vision to make it multi-purpose.”
Social media influencer Rae Radford would call upon former Dragon’s Den dragon, Theo Paphitis, “I’ve met him several times and he always comes across as fair but firm plus he does a lot for small business owners every week. He’d be a good measure of work, knowledge and laughter.” Founder of Missy Nang Treats, Hortense Julienne would have British perfumer Jo Malone as her mentor, citing “similar journeys of faith, business and cancer.” Entrepreneur Jesse Hanley suggests Kevin Rose because, “Diggnation started a spark, Foundation lit it, and I would so love to thank him in person one day.”
There were also mentions for Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Sara Blakely and Whitney Wolfe Herd from other entrepreneurs looking for a guiding light.
Mentors with different philosophies
This group of dream mentors are all undeniably successful entrepreneurs. However, they’re not defined only by their business success. Instead, they have come to be synonymous with modern business philosophy.
One such entrepreneur is the Brazilian Ricardo Semler, former CEO of Semco and author of Maverick. “I’d want to soak in his philosophy and management style of ‘the power of giving away power,’” said Darren C. Joe of Touch MBA. “How does this work at his companies and schools? How does he model this behavior every day? It would be amazing.”
“Self-made, successful, forward-looking and free-thinking” entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant would be founder of Wonder Leads, Dave Holloway’s number one pick. “He has that rare gift of being able to distill highly complex ideas into very concise statements. He also understands the importance of happiness, which should be everyone’s ultimate goal.”
Ravi Davda of Rockstar Marketing would love to tap into the mind of Tim Ferriss, “because why wouldn’t you want to work four hours a week and no more?” he asked. “Plus I love how much he focuses on fitness as part of being an entrepreneur. It’s so important.”
Mentors as leaders and role models
Finally, some of those questioned chose individuals they believed possessed desirable traits that weren’t obviously linked to business, prominent in fields such as art and politics. Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is Gemma Nice of Easyoga’s dream mentor. “He has had so much experience within the world that I know he would be a great business mentor. He has the right attitude, the confidence and the ability to get stuff done no matter what.”
Nikita Goncars of Lendsecured would choose elusive street artist Banksy because “he’s a rule-breaker, he has strong and distinct branding, he’s inspirational and his work is thought-provoking. I think these are all crucial traits of a successful entrepreneur.”
Jessica Morgan of Carnsight Communications said Michelle Obama really resonates with her, describing her as “successful but warm” and someone who “has made sacrifices and faced hardships but has also achieved so much.”
Geoff Trickey of Psychological Consultancy is a fan of British tennis player Emma Raducanu MBE “for teaching us how to keep cool under the most unbelievable pressure.” He adds “You have to make all the right decisions to succeed so consistently; mental toughness that would be empowering within any boardroom!”
The wide variety of mentors suggested shows the diversity of the requirements of entrepreneurs. What does each choice say about that entrepreneur? What does yours say about you? Without having your dream mentor working with you in real life, it’s still possible to channel them. Imagine what they would tell you when you asked for their support. What motivation and guidance would they provide?