Finding A Mentor

by Patrick McIvor | December 18, 2017

In the past when I have written about how to create success, I've shared the three things all my successful friends have in common. One of them is hanging out with five people who are “better" than they are. By “better,” I mean more accomplished at what they are doing or looking to do. If they want to play golf or run or learn to play a musical instrument, they practice with people who challenge them, which helps them to improve. If they want to learn a new skill, they look to learn from the best. This past October I attended the Intercoiffure Fall Atelier in New York City and had the opportunity to see a segment that Sonya Dove hosted about mentors and mentorship. It made me think about my mentors in new ways and reconsider their impact on my life and my success.

As I sat in that session, I realized that the common thread in my relationship with mentors was that I picked up lots of individual skills that my mentors were good at and ideas they were knowledgeable about. Yet my mentors were never trying to turn me into versions of themselves, and neither was I looking to be their clone. I just wanted to learn one or two things from each of them that would enhance or change my life. I felt that each of these professionals had earned my respect and the right to mentorship because they had built their businesses on their own, with little help or favors from anyone else. I wanted to learn how to do the same.

That sounds obvious, but some people who present themselves as mentors of "professional educators" make lots of money selling concepts that other people could never replicate. Think of all the celebrities who have made money selling equipment or food plans that they claimed helped them get back in shape after they had a baby, and then you make the purchase only to later realize you would probably need a nanny, chef, housekeeper, personal trainer and bestie to work out with at your home gym to get the results they experienced. Heck, there is an ex-talk show host who still can sell diet ideas even though she promotes each new idea by saying this one really works and explaining how it has always been a struggle for her to find a diet/lifestyle of eating that works!

It shows how many times people can fail and still sell another idea even though the last idea didn't work for them. Believe me, I would ask for mentorship from an ex-talk show host like this, but how could I learn from that person how to eat and get some new diet ideas? I don’t have a chef or massive private gardens, so my metrics probably would not apply anyway, and honestly I am waiting to see the long-term success. It's that track record that I look for from mentors I choose.

That is something important to remember: these are mentors, not “gods.” Every mentor I have had has faults and even aspects that might be “off” or not the way I think. But in a professional mentorship, as long as the process is ethical and moral, I don’t need to be these mentors' friend to learn from them. A friendship may develop and can help, but don’t let differences or the need for perfection limit your mentor opportunities. Just make sure the mentor really has mastered the skills you want to improve or the knowledge you want to learn.

This year I am going to be bringing some of my favorite friends and mentors to our education center, where I'll be featuring them in an intimate, affordable educational environment so they can share what they do that makes them and their businesses successful. Our first special guest is salon owner and global artist Peter Bokanowski, who learned his craft from some of the best by working as an artist/educator for Trevor Sorbie, Redken, Rare/Ruth Roche and Sexy Hair. What makes Peter special is his ability to use his master level cutting skills to grow a business based on creative cutting and diversity so that each one of his guests becomes an individual work of art and not a copy. What I want people to learn from Peter is how they can grow their business with creative cutting that turns heads and builds business without just copying looks they find on Instagram.

For information about Peter’s class and upcoming classes at 101 E Center Salon/Education/Creative Space in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, email me at I look forward to sharing more ideas in 2018! 

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