Develop Your Own Board of Mentors

It’s typical of aspiring professionals to seek out individuals to be their mentor. The concept of mentorship is centuries old and stems mostly from the character Mentor in Homer’s Odyssey; a character who offered valuable guidance and advice. The word developed into its current definition used to describe the mentor/mentee relationships from Socrates/Plato through to Obi-Wan Kenobi/Luke Skywalker.

After a quick Google search for “Board of Mentors” it is evident that this post may be tips to serve as a reminder more than a new idea.

Priscilla Claman’s broached the topic in 2010: Forget Mentors: Employ a Personal Board of Directors

What you need instead is a board of directors for your career, a group of people you consult regularly to get advice and feedback.

Assemble multiple mentors that you interact with in many different capacities, workshop ideas with and gain valuable insight.

Develop a uniquely diverse group of people to engage with and share ideas. Diversify to include people across multiple industries, cultures, backgrounds and age groups. This will help develop you develop your own unique perspective.

Keep a running dialogue with your board of mentors. Keep track of meetings, and space out inquires to allow yourself time to put ideas into practice and develop new questions.

Be clear and focused with your message on how they can help. When you deliver a strong message to your board of mentors with each visit you are telling your own story, speaking things into existence and creating ripples in the fabric that touch places far beyond your grasp.

Get creative with board members. Don’t be confined to your interests or comfort zone. If you are in finance, connect with someone in urban design for example. Truck drivers, mayors, artists and performers – everyone has a story with a perspective. Be creative and find the value in everyone.

Don’t discriminate, elect people that challenge and even disagree with your point of view.

Perform maintenance on the board. As you develop and grow, so should your board. Relying on new and different members over time is part of the process.

Give them a reason to mentor you. How can your aspirations, connections and ideas help with their own respective journey?

Serve on the boards of others. Value your own insight and recognize who comes to you for advice.

Asses the board’s composition. Recognize and understand your own goals to develop a dynamic group. There aren’t any real cookie-cutter templates to fill out with specific mentor types.

There are lots of articles available that advise on the types of mentors that you need along with how to identify them:

Eight Types of Mentors: Which Ones Do Your Need? by Caela Farren, Ph.D.

The 3 Types Of Mentors Everyone Should Have by Melissa Stanger

Shoot to develop your mentor relationships in an organic and natural way. It’s better to go about developing your board in less rigid manner. If you elect certain people only to fill specific needs, you run the risk of putting them in a box and not reaping the full rewards of their expertise. You never want to ask yourself: “Why is my career development mentor talking to me about recent technology?” Interact with your mentors in the most dynamic way possible and try to draw a myriad of connections across many topics.

Keep an eye out, your mentors are the people that you keep running into at events, people from your past dealings and people that you discover who are on the same journey as you. I would think less about sitting down and “finding” a mentor through traditional channels and more about being aware of the people that are already around you and interesting. Who is attending all of the same events as you? Who impresses you?

Elect your board carefully. As businessman Jim Rohn famously said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” When you develop your own board of mentors you are truly developing yourself. Strive to develop your board as a dynamic group of mentors that support your journey.

Your First Cold Call.

Consider this: every call was a cold first.

Think about all of the people that you currently know very well: your significant other, your neighbor, your colleagues, your college roommate… Everything is usually created from something else and that something else is usually a “cold call” of sorts. When you think about it, your entire current network was once a cold call. Do you agree?

I remember when I cold called my future college roommate. Some may say it was a warm call given that we both were accepted into the same school and both assigned to room 303; but it felt cold because I knew nothing about the person on the other end of the phone. Those calls get made and the more the better; if you are genuine and go all-in right away then you are positioning yourself to reap the benefits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, said relationship has lasted all of these years, and it all started with a shaky-voiced cold call.

It is tough however to try this with people that think you have an ‘angle’ or aren’t being honest. Perhaps too many late evening calls from Glengarry Glen Ross types have jaded us to be suspicious of offers or things that appear “too good to be true.”

Truth is, the more high-pressure salespeople and marketing tricks there are flooding our general space the less likely a simple and authentic approach can shine through and be recognized. I believe this is why the cold call gets a bad rap in the first place because it is seen as disingenuous. We are careful with our trust because it is a reliable fall back to what we know and believe. Perhaps the cold call tries to falsely pierce our layer of trust which is why the practice takes so much heat?

At this point, (with LinkedIn and other social media platforms) it seems more difficult to find someone that you don’t have at least one thing in common with to talk about and connect on. If you don’t see one right off, you can always work to develop one.

Building trust is the name of the game and the cold call, or any variation of new age cold call-esque techniques is the antithesis to the cultivation of trust. Be yourself and be genuine, don’t run a script or try to employ researched techniques for when/how to contact someone. Being yourself makes you 100% unique; no books/seminars/articles/lists on techniques/tips/tricks necessary.

I’m not sure what my original commentary was on this subject of cold calling. I suppose that it is to forge an authentic connection immediately because, why not? It’s much easier to vet someone over time if they have your trust than if they do not. If you give someone your trust right away and they never end up letting you down, well then there you go. Give it a try.


Joining Keller Williams Realty Professionals as a broker is a natural progression and culmination of my education, experience, passion and purpose in real estate, architecture, and the built environment. I look forward to the opportunity to partner with you along the transformational journey of buying, selling and investing in real estate – how can I help you? – Luke Arehart | Real Estate Broker licensed in Oregon | cell: 503-967-5853

Community and a sense of ‘place’ are dearly important to me. I work to build relationships through creative networking, mentorship and youth education with my volunteer efforts with the Architects in Schools program and service as an active board member for Marathon Scholars, a group focused on “bringing together caring adults and talented, under-resourced children to make the dream of a college degree a reality.”

Favorite books on residential architecture: The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard (1958) Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor (1998) A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams by Michael Pollan (1997)

Other favorite books: Big Sur Jack Kerouac (1962) The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (2003) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)

The most effective way to do it is to do it.” ― Amelia Earhart

I’ve spent the first part of my career working in the architectural industry including experience with the design and construction of custom residential homes and remodels. I earned my Bachelor of Architecture and English degrees from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and have worked with a handful of architectural offices in Washington DC, Los Angeles and Portland. I’m a contributing editor/writer for with guest posts featured on Medium, Young Architect and Architizer. I’ve also been honored to be invited as a frequent architecture/art critic for college students from University of Oregon and Portland State University.