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Hey Sifted Reader,

It’s us again! This week we’re talking about mentors.

Last week, 73% of you told us you wanted to find a mentor — but should it be your job to find one, or your manager’s? 
  • Sigrid Dalberg-Krajewski tells us how to find your team mentors
  • Ivan Maryasin explains why he pays for mentors for his employees
  • Francesco Leonardi discusses why mentoring within your startup is a good idea too
  • We share some places to look for a mentor

A bientôt,

 Amy and Anisah 🧡

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\How to

Find your team mentors

Sigrid Dalberg-Krajewski is senior director of communications at Berlin-based Delivery Hero, where she leads a 20-person team, nearly all of whom she’s found mentors for. We find out why you should — and how you can — do the same for your team. 

Everyone needs a sparring partner. People might not feel comfortable asking for career advice from their boss or colleagues; mentors can show you the ropes and challenge you. 

There are three types of people that especially need mentors. If there is a person looking to level up — become a manager or get a promotion — it’s extremely important to have an outside perspective. If someone is stuck in a rut or a development case, they absolutely need a mentor. If someone is looking to transition into another field of expertise, they do too. 

Before looking for a mentor, speak to the mentee. Say, ‘I would love to try to find a mentor for you — but before I do, what is important for you to have in this mentor?’ Some might say, ‘I’m good with my subject matter expertise, but I’m struggling with leadership’. Or they might be looking for a mentor who knows a particular coding language. Find a mentor that fits their needs right now.

Work hard at matchmaking. Look at your closest network first; mentoring is a time investment, and every person I’ve asked to be a mentor knows they could ask me in return. Always try to pull together people who’ve had similar experiences — or at least similar ambitions. If someone is transferring from one role to another, find a mentor who’s already in that other type of role, but with a few more years of experience. That can take quite a lot of time.

Aim for a session per month. Most of my team have long-term mentorships; some talk weekly, some once per month, some once per quarter. I’d recommend having at least a session per month at the beginning, and try it out for three months. 

Mentoring has business benefits. Finding my team mentors has heightened their business maturity. It’s improved our feedback culture — I see more direct feedback, feedback which is not shallow but more constructive, feedback which is to the point and brings in facts, not personality. In general, my team has become more self-aware and self-confident. 

Mentors get as much out of mentoring as mentees. Not a single person I’ve asked to be a mentor has said no. A lot of people have come back to me to say, ‘I was hesitant going into this but we’re on our third session now and I’m also learning a lot’. You need to question your own advice — and your advice will be questioned. Mentees might be facing a lot of operational tasks that people in more senior positions might not have any more; that’s exhilarating — being close to the action, finding out what are the issues on the ground — and understanding how much you’ve learned [since you were in that position]. 

It’s your responsibility as a manager to find your team mentors. This is not a luxury thing; this will help you so much in building and strengthening your team that it’s your responsibility to do it. If you think that 10 years ago it would’ve been amazing if your manager had found you a mentor, you are that person now, so you better make sure you make it happen. It’s also your responsibility to find mentors for yourself. 

\A message from our sponsor Google for Startups

Calling all healthtech founders!

Google for Startups' accelerator programme is helping startups increase monthly revenue and scale to new heights. 

Apply here before August 23.

\Opinion

Why we pay for employee mentors 


Mentors help people make better business decisions, pick up new skills as the demands of their roles develop and become better colleagues.

So... why wouldn't you want your team to have mentors? And why wouldn't you invest in that?

Ivan Maryasin explains why he thinks all founders should put budget behind mentors for their employees.

\On the Subject of...

Mentoring

👋 Onboarding new joiners. Mentoring is the most effective way for a senior team member to get to know the ever growing team in a fast paced startup — it forces you to spend time sharing knowledge with juniors, according to front end engineer at insurtech Marshmallow, Francesco Leonardi.

🧑‍🏫 Early employees really need mentors. If you’re the first — or one of the first — employees at a startup, you’re unlikely to have that many people around you to learn from. That can be tough, as these first employees told Sifted. So if you’re a founder, find those people on your team wise souls to speak to.

🔉 Online audio could redefine mentoring. There have been lots of marketplaces and matchmaking services to connect mentors to mentees but this latest app, called Anyone, is taking a different approach — it offers five-minute phone calls with an expert. There’s a catch though: fees can range from nothing to $500!

👇 Here are some places to look for a mentor: 

  • Creative Mentor Network  UK-based. For all career stages, focusing on in-house programmes.
  • Mentor Black Business — for Black founders, supported by M&C Saatchi. 
  • French Tech Tremplin — for underrepresented French founders, created by the French government startup initiative La French Tech. 
  • The Mentoring Club — from sales to engineering, the platform was set up during the pandemic to support European operators.

\People Moves

Ada Health boosts its leadership team. The Berlin-based symptom checking app has hired Gülsah Wilke as chief operating officer (she was previously an investor at Axel Springer) and Torsten Schero as chief financial officer (previously CFO at Amazon Deutschland). It’s also promoted Vanessa Lemarié to chief client officer; up till now, she’s been leading the company’s life science partnerships. 

Gal-dem has a new editor. The media company has appointed Suyin Haynes to take the reins.

Got any people intel you'd like to share with us? We'd love to hear it... 😉 

\Sifted Talks

How to make your exit a good one


Join the experts in our next Sifted Talks on July 28 to discuss how to best judge the market and make a timely exit.

Later-stage startups — this one's for you.

\Smart Reads

1) Buying someone’s voice. Berlin-based musician Holly Herndon is letting people make music using her voice as an instrument. She’s also created a DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation) so people can sell their creations. 

2) Working from home to escape office racism. Black women experience improved mental health, a better sense of belonging at work and a safer work environment when working from home. 

3) Mood matching. Doing our best work can’t be forced. Listening to how we are feeling internally — how awake and alert we are, our mood and our creativity — should guide what we tackle next on our to-do list. 

4) The product alignment approach. Farbod Saraf outlines how product management works at whiteboard collaboration tool Miro. 

5) Mediocrity sells. With the constant need to publish content so algorithms prioritise your work, have we lost sight of what is ‘good’?

Read something you think everyone else should too? Send it on over to Anisah.

Forwarded this newsletter?

Subscribe to Startup Life.

\Podcast of the Week

Tech Tech Boom

I’m four episodes into the BBC’s technology review spoof pod Tech Tech Boom, which takes aim at founders and — gulp — tech reporters. The results are funny to the point of derangement.

Episode One follows a glitzy product launch from tech behemoth Blip Blop. A blimp shoots up out of the floor. James Corden rides around on a robot wasp. And the groundbreaking innovation — a new phone charger — is reported to be “heavy without being light, with obsolescence to spare.”

In a later episode, we meet the founder of Frogbox, a new streaming upstart with frog content as its sole output. We also meet BingePal, the simulated consciousness that watches multiple TV shows for you simultaneously and then provides talking points to use with friends.

The silliness comes thick and fast. There’s a competitive meditating event — ‘KarmaSlam’ — and TimeCondoms — “the first quantum contraceptive” — which can transport you back in time to stop fertilisation (legal disclaimer — the product cannot be held responsible for alternative timelines that will fundamentally affect human evolution). 

Whether absurd or sinister, all tech draws the same enthusiastic response from the hosts. Occasionally, a product resembles something you could just imagine a founder pitching one day — and should give everyone in the unicorn-chasing game pause for thought.

Éanna, contributing editor at Sifted

\Survey

Which C-suite role is most likely to take over the CEO role?


CFO
CTO
COO
CPO

 

Come back next week for the results!
Amy Lewin
Deputy Editor

Get in touch with her at amy@sifted.eu.
She loves a bit of reader feedback.
Anisah Osman Britton
CTO at Vinokilo/Founder at 23 Code Street

Get in touch with her at anisah@sifted.eu.
She loves to hear about the latest in startupland.
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