As I’ve talked about before, I’ve been lucky to have access to some amazing mentor networks (TechStars, True, PSF, PIE, etc). Choosing whose advice to listen to and whose to ignore is one of the most important skills you can learn.
The key is finding mentors who not only have relevant first-hand experience but also share a similar ethos. Without both of these, advice can range from the benign ‘irrelevant’ all the way down to ‘toxic’.
Mentors love to mentor. Their hearts are (almost always) in the right place, but unfortunately, “meaning well” doesn’t make advice good.
Bad advice is more common than you think. There’s one time in particular though, when we received some advice could have caused significant damage to our company and to our personal reputations. The mentor meant well, but as a first-time founder, he had a short-term perspective.
Fortunately we also met with three others mentors who had more experience and a long term outlook. Their advice was all the same: the opposite of the first’s.
It can be especially problematic when you’re in a vulnerable emotional state. It’s easy to be persuaded by somebody you respect who speaks confidently about their advisable path. Recipe for disaster.
Be deliberate about the advice you choose to listen to. A great mentor on one topic is often terrible on others. The bigger the decision, the more methodical you need to be; especially early on in a company’s (and founder’s) life, when small decisions have big impacts.