Uplifiting Star Players: All You Need to Know on How to Become a Mentor

Nearsure's CEO Giuliana Corbo explaining how to become a mentor to her mentee

TL; DR: In this article, Giuliana Corbo, CEO of Nearsure, explores the value of mentorship, its impact on her career, the key characteristics of successful mentors, and three actionable steps on how to become a mentor. 

“In any career, you’ll have good times and bad times, and I believe having a mentor can really help you through both—to ride the highs and survive the lows.” One of my mentors shared this valuable insight with me and it’s been a guiding principle throughout my journey.  As appreciative as I am for this piece of advice, I’m also very grateful for the support of my many mentors who have accompanied me along the way.  

Mentorship brings benefits not only to mentees but also to mentors themselves. Collaboration for personal success and the exchange of knowledge become valuable tools when faced with challenges. Business-wise, mentoring can also help retain talent as employees begin to see the company and its leaders as partners in mutual growth.  

Today, I want to talk a little about my career growth process with the invaluable support of my mentors, as well as the approach I believe is most effective when mentoring someone who has sought my guidance. Are you interested in becoming a mentor within your company? If so, continue reading to discover how you can embark on this rewarding journey. 

My Mentors and their Impact on My Career  

I’d like to start by sharing my experience with one of my most influential mentors, whom I now consider a friend, Iang Yim.  

Becoming the CEO of Nearsure was a decisive moment in my career, but it was not without its challenges. In my mid-20s, tasked with writing the company’s first business plan, I found myself overwhelmed. I remember one night when I had tears streaming down my face, that I was staring at a blank Word document, unable to write a single word. I then sought advice from Iang. 

He reassured me, saying: “First of all, don’t worry; feeling like this is the most normal thing ever. So, try to stop thinking that it’s you. It happens to everybody.” He then suggested I turn off my computer and order some pizza, advising me to take a break, grab some carbs, and return to the business plan the next day with a fresh mind. 

This simple piece of advice worked wonders. One of the most important aspects of any mentorship is the emotional support and perspective a mentor can provide. From that moment on, I shared my struggles in the business, my milestones, and the solutions with which I came up. He was always ready to provide guidance and chat. In time, I began recruiting people, making sales, creating a website, and even securing the company’s first client. 

Iang taught me the importance of understanding the ‘why’ behind every decision and goal, and to always ask myself: “What are you looking to achieve? What do you want to learn?” This reflection led me to realize that having a clear purpose is key before seeking guidance. It’s about finding someone who has walked the path you’re aspiring to take. That’s why each mentor can offer a unique perspective and expertise, helping you navigate your chosen path more effectively. 

Giuliana Corbo and Iang Yim at the latest end-of-the-year party in Uruguay.  
Giuliana Corbo and Iang Yim at the latest end-of-the-year party in Uruguay.  

What Makes a Great Mentor?  

As both a mentor and mentee, and by reading on the subject, I’ve realized that certain key characteristics and behaviors define a successful mentor.  

For instance, despite our contrasting personalities, Iang’s analytical and strategic approach has complemented my more impulsive nature. When faced with a question, he usually takes his time to think before providing a clear and concrete answer. In contrast, I tend to start talking immediately, exploring ideas as I go. We may ultimately convey the same message, however. 

Iang’s data-driven mindset has taught me the value of having all the necessary information in place to make informed decisions. He’s also instilled in me the importance of being process-oriented. Always emphasizing the need for a structured approach, he has further empowered my usual spontaneity. 

So, what are the characteristics of a good mentor? I’ve distilled the following: 

  • Be a Good Listener: A mentor should actively listen to understand their mentee’s needs and challenges. 
  • Know how to Communicate & Teach: Effective communication and the ability to convey knowledge are essential. 
  • Develop Clear Steps: A mentor should help outline actionable steps for the mentee to achieve their goals. 
  • Have Empathy: Understanding and empathizing with a mentee’s situation fosters a supportive environment. 
  • Know how to Give Feedback: Constructive feedback helps mentees grow and improve. 
  • Be an Expert in your Mentoring Area: Expertise in the field is essential for providing valuable guidance. However, it doesn’t mean you have to know everything. We’re all constantly learning! 

I also believe in guiding rather than dictating. My approach to mentorship in STEM is to empower mentees to find solutions on their own. This helps them build their confidence and enhances their problem-solving skills.  

The above traits enable mentors to guide their mentees with clarity, empathy, and strategic insight.  

How to Become a Mentor: 3 Actionable Steps  

Becoming a great mentor requires a deliberate approach and mindset. Here are three actionable steps from my point of view for anyone looking to start or improve their mentoring journey: 

  1. Define Clear Goals & Vision 
    Of course, it’s important to understand why you want to be a mentor and what you aim to achieve beforehand. Having a clear goal, such as transforming lives or inspiring growth, provides direction for the mentoring relationship. It also helps with your first mentee when you have to align each other’s expectations as it also ensures both parties are working towards a common objective.  
  1. Develop a Structured Mentoring Action Plan 
    Begin by identifying specific goals and objectives for the mentorship, ensuring they align with the mentee’s career development path. Evaluate your mentee’s current skills and knowledge, and define the roles of both the mentor and mentee. Include in that vision how often you’ll talk and what your mentee’s preferred learning style is. 
  1. Cultivate a Positive Mindset 
    A positive mindset is infectious and can impact a mentee’s outlook on challenges and opportunities. I always stress the importance of positive thinking and teamwork in achieving long-term success. Lead by example! 

The power of the mind in shaping one’s achievements cannot be overstated. As mentors, we play a decisive role in helping our mentees harness that power. 

Igniting the Spark of Mentorship  

Being a mentor is both challenging and rewarding! My own path has been profoundly shaped by people who have guided me in different ways. They have provided me with diverse perspectives while also instilling in me the belief that what you think is what you attract.  

Mentoring holds a transformative power. It’s about inspiring growth, fostering self-discovery, and encouraging positive thinking.  

If you’re considering becoming a mentor, think: “I can make a difference.” Then, watch as you do. Together, people can achieve greatness.