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The Difference Between Mentor & Femtor

In its most simplest form and in the context of a small business owner, a mentor is a man and femtor is a woman who has significantly more entrepreneurial business experience than you who would serve as a trusted confidant. I have both ~ a mentor and a femtor.  I can speak firsthand that these are VERRRRY different experiences.  A Femtor is like a mentor, only coming from a female perspective and knowledge base.  Just as men and women communicate differently, so it is with the mentoring and femtoring experience.  Femtors are an essential component to have in your network. You need to know how to find the perfect mentor or femtor.

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Mentors VS Femtors

Here is the main difference between mentors and femtors.  While you may identify a person to be a mentor or femtor, the reality is, THEY PICK YOU.  That’s correct, a mentor or a femtor is someone who picks you and whose role it is to be accessible to you and to provide you access.  By description and definition, these are experienced men and women who seek out ways to teach you, share their wisdom with you, and help lift you up ~ to find your wings, so to speak, in order for you to soar higher. I will tell you this, mentors and femtors are typically positive people.  It takes a positive person to give of himself or herself to help another learn, grow and succeed.

Do you have a mentor or femtor? Who is it and how do they help you? Comment below..

Your Catalyst to SuccessHow to Find the Perfect Mentor or Femtor

It does take a special person to see in you someone for whom they are willing to risk their reputations.  How so, you might ask?  Well, they have decided to provide you access to information, to their resources, and to people in their network.  Yоur mеntоr or femtor is likеlу tо hаvе аn еxtеnsivе nеtwоrk аnd саn оffеr уоu ассеss tо fаr mоrе resources thаn уоu currently hаvе. That, as you can imagine, is no small commitment.  Without a doubt, mentors and femtors are the catalysts who move you from one phase of your business to the next.

For the record, I simply want to acknowledge that many corporations have a “Mentoring” programs where there is an actual process in place where the company analyzes it’s “bench strength” and establishes a succession planning system.  Future leaders are given a variety of experiences, supported by mentors and femtors, in order to prepare them for the next stage in your career plan.  This is an amazing process!  As entrepreneurs, we are responsible for creating our own “informal” mentoring and femtoring system.

Do you need a Mentor or a Femtor?

Here is an easy way to determine if you do.  Let me ask you a few questions.  Keep track of whether you answer yes or no to the following four questions.

  1. Do you hang around with people who are calling you to your greater self?

  2. Are you giving yourself permission to live in duality where you own and claim your competence AS WELL AS own and claim your quench of knowing and learning more?

  3. Are you the dumbest one in your tribe – meaning, do you carry all the conversation within your tribe, or do you find yourself in awe of the conversation?  In fact, do you lose your sense of time by listening to the rich dialogue of others who are wiser, more experienced and more successful?

  4. Do you spend time with people who not only inspire you, but they actually have an impact on you in that you find yourself aspiring to do more and BE more?

If you answered “no” to a majority of these questions, then perhaps you should explore finding a mentor/femtor!  Why?  Because it’s important to learn new communication skills, expand your viewpoints, and consider new ways of approaching situations.  And, as an entrepreneur, we don’t have the luxury of a boss to turn to for advice.  Many of us are flying solo when it comes to having others above us to guide us or to provide access to new thinking.  I just believe everybody needs a good, reliable sounding board, second opinion, and sometimes, emotional support.

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Been There, Done That

What makes a mentor and femtor so valuable is that they have “been there, done that," and so you will leаrn and benefit from their mistаkеs AND suссеssеs. And, to be clear and widen the net, thеу dоn't hаvе tо hаvе еxреriеnсе in уоur same industry!  I promise you, as a femtor or mentor shares with уоu lеssоns frоm her or his еxреriеnсе, you will be able to adapt the lessons to your own business.  The unspoken but powerful benefit is that you will actually lеаrn from thеm mоrе quiсklу аnd еаsilу than s/he did!

Are you a femtor or mentor? If so, what is the criteria you use to choose your "students?" Comment below, please!

5 Criteria to Look for in a Mentor or Femtor

  1. Access - connections to people you would otherwise never have the opportunity to meet or know

  2. Inspiration - they are there to support you and hold you accountable when you may be ready to give up

  3. Advice - someone to turn to for advice – both personally and professionally to ensure you are creating both the life and business you desire

  4. Feedback - they can critique your product or service and help you solve problems

  5. Experience - be privy to their personal tips for overcoming professional and business challenges and difficult business decisions as well as scaling your business

Ask for Mentorship

Sadly, most people do a terrible job of asking for mentoring. They come off as desperate, awkward, or worst yet, irritating. The good news is, most successful people LOVE helping others.  Let me share with you HOW to go about creating a mentoring and femtoring relationship.

  1. Write down your expectations. What do you want to learn? How often would you like to meet with your mentor and what will their time commitment look like? How long do you anticipate this mentorship lasting? Outlining these expectations from the beginning will ensure that you and your mentor are on the same page.
  2. Find someone you admire and want to emulate. The ideal mentor is someone you respect professionally, with a career you'd like to emulate. Search for someone who is successful in your field or a similar one. Another important factor to keep in mind is personality — find someone you like on a personal level. If you actually enjoy communicating with your mentor, the experience will be more fulfilling.NEVER simply state that you want to pick” his/her brain. Experienced people know what this means: Your meetings will resemble magazine interviews or police interrogations, not actively building a mentoring relationship. Instead, tell your mentor that you really “value their opinion.”
  3. Do your homework. When you write a busy person asking a general/broad question, they will ignore you. Why would they respond when you haven’t done the homework yourself? Be informed about the person you are asking to mentor you. Make it personal. Display interest in your mentor as a human being first and a knowledge resource second.

Tell us one positive experience you've had with your mentor or femtor.

How to Have a Successful Mentor Relationship

  • Be clear on why you want a mentor and why you are meeting.
    Define what type of help you're looking for in a mentor. Are you looking for someone with a similar business who can coach you? Are you looking for someone who created traction and paved the way for leveraging a brand and can advise you on the do’s and don'ts?

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  • Establish goals for the relationship.Discuss and agree upon the goals of the relationship and what you, personally and professionally, are doing to make it a successful venture. Review these goals from time to time to be sure the relationship is working; if not, adjust and refocus.
  • Establish communication methods and frequency of contact from the beginning.Talk with your mentor to determine the lines of communication that will work for both of you. Will you meet face-to-face or communicate mainly through email and the telephone? Make sure you meet/talk enough to suit both of you.
  • Manage expectations and build trust.Mentoring takes time and implies sacrifices for both the person being mentored and the mentor. Be respectful of your mentor's time and the other priorities in his/her life, such as family, travel and community activities. Avoid any trust-breaking behaviors such as canceling appointments or not following through on leads and contacts given to you by your mentor.
  • ALWAYS be considerate of your mentors time constraints.Understand that all experienced mentors have mighty demands on their time. This is why they are valuable. Don’t monopolize or trivialize your mentor’s time. If your mentor can spare only 20 minutes in lieu of a two-hour dinner at your favorite restaurant, so be it. Use those 20 minutes wisely and considerately.
  • Listen, listen, listen.Along with preparing thoughtful and important questions, the most important thing you can do is listen carefully to your mentor’s responses. Remember, learning is the most critical function of working with a mentor. Never focus on anything else. Listening is not only the most important way to achieve this goal; it’s the only way to reach your objective.
  • Express your gratitude.Your mentor is likely to give a lot more than you do in the relationship in terms of time and contacts. Be sure to express regularly that you value and appreciate your mentor's guidance.

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Author, Sandra Yancey
CEO & Founder, eWomenNetwork 


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