How can we help you today?

Fill in the form below so we can explore ways to reach your goals or call us at 1800 577 346.

1 / 2
How can we help you?
One last step

Leave your details below and we'll be in touch.

2 / 2
Next step
Thanks! We have received your form submission, I'll get back to you shortly!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Why Mentors Fail (and What To Do about It)

Why Mentors Fail (and What To Do about It)
What's new: K-Startup Grand Challenge 2020 for Australian/New Zealand Startups! More information here.

It is said that the right mentor can help you get further, faster.

As Isaac Newton said, “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.

The right mentor can help us to see the forest from the trees, make better decisions and avoid treacherous pitfalls.

Mentor Challenges

But there are two key challenges when it comes to the mentor-protege relationship serving, rather than sabotaging an entrepreneur.

  1. Finding the right mentor(s)
  2. Determining which advice applies to your unique circumstances

This post will focus on the latter.

Success is Not Linear

When we achieve success in any domain, it’s easy to fall victim to the ‘narrative fallacy’ and draw a straight line from start to end. But success is far from linear.

It’s easy to, as Behance founder Scott Belsky argues, misattribute our success only to the moments we’d rather remember as opposed to the things we’d rather forget.

We place little emphasis on all of the inevitable missteps and failures that essentially helped us to course correct or created serendipitous opportunities and connections that otherwise would have remained undiscovered.

Every Business is Unique

Not only are mentors susceptible to the narrative fallacy, but the conditions that underpinned their success — market appetite for their product, competition, the economic and political landscape, the role of technology and so on — were unique to their business, not yours.

Bias Towards X

Source: Farnam Street

Finally, they are susceptible to bias, based on what worked for them. Steve Jobs might have pushed proteges to spare no expense on design and aesthetics, whereas Jeff Bezos might push for frugality so that you can carve out margins with lower-priced items because in both of these cases, that’s what has worked for them.

This is why we must not take anything a mentor says as gospel, and only apply or experiment with insights that have been stress tested against your unique circumstances.

Questions to Ask

Ask Your Mentor

  1. What mistakes did you make that helped you get on to the right track and inadvertently got you closer to your goal?
  2. Which entrepreneurs do you admire, and why? (look for bias towards particular types of entrepreneurs)
  3. When it comes to your product philosophy, what are your key values? (do these align with your product philosophy?)

Ask Yourself

  1. Which factors or conditions underpinned their success, and which of these does or can your business share?
  2. Which factors or conditions, and which of these does your business share not and can’t share?
  3. Based on the answers to these questions, you will develop a better understanding of how much of what your mentor says you should seriously consider for application to your own business, and how much you should discard.

Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

No items found.


To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

No items found.
No items found.


Unlock new opportunities and markets by taking your brand into the brave new world.

Thanks for your submission. We will be in touch shortly!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Steve Glaveski

Steve Glaveski is the co-founder of Collective Campus, author of Time Rich, Employee to Entrepreneur and host of the Future Squared podcast. He’s a chronic autodidact, and he’s into everything from 80s metal and high-intensity workouts to attempting to surf and do standup comedy.

Ask me a question!