Hi this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens we’re gonna talk about mentors. How to get one, and why you need one.
There are several reasons you need a mentor. If you look at a lot of the great successful people in history they’ve had someone that they’ve patterned their lives after. Even Mark Zuckerburg patterned his life after Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs actually mentored him and helped him get started. These great people come from great people who’ve trained them and moved them forward in their career. If you want to move forward in your career and be the best at what you do, you need to find a mentor. And there are several reasons why.
Number one, you need to find a person who inspires you. Someone where you think, “They’re the best at what they do and I want to be like them and I want to be able to accomplish what they’ve done.” When my career got going, I joined APA. I was on the board with Jim Wood, Reid Miles. A lot of these people I had looked up to for years. I felt like I was walking with the gods. These were amazing individuals. When I got to photograph Jim Wood I was scared to death to take a picture of him; he was the man. He was the one that I’d looked up to for so many years. Mentors inspire you and give you the desire to be the absolute best you can be. So choose a person who’ll do that for you.
Number 2, having a mentor takes the mystique away a little bit. Sometimes we look at people who are successful in film, in photography, and you just think, “They’re just amazing. I could never be like that.” But when you get around them and they mentor you and they talk about their process you realize these people are just like anybody else. “This is not so difficult. I can think like this. I can work like this. I can accomplish this.” I had this experience with my father. He shot for National Geographic, for all the wildlife magazines. I was around him the whole time I was growing up. I realized he was just a guy who takes pictures. It took that fear of it being too hard for you, and too much to accomplish. It allowed me to think, “I can do this.”
Number three, a mentor has years of experience that otherwise would take you years to gain. So look to them, take advantage of their experience. It’ll help you avoid problems that you’re going to face in this industry. They really are people that will help you to be able to avoid adverse issues and situations. It’ll further your career quicker and help you to not get bogged down in things that you don’t want to have to deal with. I had a great mentor when I started to do film, David Wilson. He was my first AD. He had been a director, he’d been in Hollywood forever and he would put his arm around, he’d pull me aside and say, “You know, Jay P. maybe you want to do this. Maybe you want to do that.” He was always very respectful of being on set but he was very helpful to me. I always looked to and was so grateful for David. He gave me a perspective about the industry that I just didn’t have. I was a young director, I was just getting started. He was a great help and a strength to me.
Number four, you need someone to hold you accountable. This person can play the role in your life of making sure that you meet your goals. Making sure that you’re working on things. Check in with them weekly so that they can say, where are you with these goals? What are you doing to achieve them? I know a group of very successful businessmen that had mentors that kind of moved them along on their careers. But they got to a point where they weren’t sure who to look to anymore. These were multi-million dollar companies. So now they mentor each other. They have a call once a week. They set goals in the call. They hold each other accountable to make sure they’ve met their goals. So a good mentor will hold you accountable.
Number five, a good mentor is going to know people that you need to know, and help you move up the ladder because of those connections. That person’s going to know crew members, going to know suppliers, going to know other successful people who can help your career move forward. This person is going to have contacts and a network that is way superior to yours because of the number of years they’ve been in the industry. That network will help you move forward because you can take advantage of the contacts and people they have.
Number six, their unbiased opinion about the things that you need to do in your career. They can look at your work, they can give you an honest critique. They can say, you need to get rid of this, you should add this, you should go here, you should talk to these people. They really become an honest, unbiased opinion that’ll help you to move forward and help you grow.
So there are six reasons why you should have a mentor. I hope you see the value and importance of this. Now let’s talk about five different ways you can find this individual.
Number one, work for free for someone. You think that’s crazy. It’s not crazy. I’ve had people that come and work for free for me. And when it’s done I owe them. I want them to be successful. I want to help them. I want to do all I can to help their careers grow. I had one young man who came and worked for me here and when we were done I met with him and he said, “You know, I didn’t really learn that much here. I just really didn’t.” And he went back to college. Well about two months later he he called me up and said, “I am so sorry. I learned so much while I was there. I didn’t even understand how much I learned while I was working there.” You’ll learn a ton working for someone. You’ll also connect yourself with them. But you’ve got to keep that relationship alive after you leave. You’ve got to continue to call and to think about them and to reach out to them. Create a mentoring situation with them. Ask them if you can continue to call and touch base with them and help you to be able to grow in your career. If you’ve worked for free with them most people are going to do that.
Number two, a great way to find a mentor is to join a photo club or a video group where there’s a group of like people that come together. Look for a place where you can come together with other people who are doing the same kinds of things that you’re doing. Rub shoulders with them. You can identify a person that you would like to mentor yourself after. ASMP, APA, there are a lot of great organizations out there that’ll help you find mentors. People that you can pattern your life after and find a connection with. So join those groups. One of the photographers said through a Facebook group that she connected with online she found other people who were doing the same kinds of work that she did and a — and eventually identified a photographer that was very successful in this type of genre and she connected with that person who eventually became her mentor. Helped her to grow and progress in her business.
Number three, if you’re in right now, or you’ve gone to, a film or a photo program at a university, your professors there have connections with other graduates. Connect with your professors. Look to work them to help connect you with other graduates who have been very successful in the industry. Let those professors connect with you successful individuals that have gone through your same program at your same school, and those become great mentors.
Number four, apply for low level jobs at places that have high potential. A place that’s going to help your career move forward. Even if you’re gonna be getting coffee. It doesn’t matter. I know a very successful individual who walked the dogs for a very successful director, got to know him, got to connect with him. And eventually the director started giving him advice and pretty soon it helped his career move forward. So don’t be afraid of getting some coffee if it’s gonna get you a good mentor.
Number five. There are conventions going on all over the country, all the time. Things like NAB, WPPI, PPA. At these conventions they bring in the best in the industry to speak and to make presentations. You’d be smart to volunteer at these conventions. Ask to be assigned to individuals that would be great mentors for you. Try to connect with that individual as you help them at their seminar. Talk to them afterwards. Get their business card. Reach out to them. I’ve found some great business mentors at conventions just by going up and talking to the individual afterwards and saying, “Look, can I send you an email and ask you about a problem that I’m facing?” And they respond in that situation. They’re in a teaching moment. They want to help and to mentor people. So don’t just go and sit there, connect with the people who are speaking there. Do all you can to be able to make a connection with them because it will help your career.
So there are five ways to find a mentor. Don’t just put this on the back burner and forget about it. This is something you need to make a priority in your career. You need someone to help you grow your business. It’s going to save you so much time if you find this individual. I can be this individual. I’ve mentored many photographers and videographers through the years that have gone on to be very successful. We actually have a business coaching class free call coming up. I’m going to take questions and answers. I’m going to teach you the Daily Routine for Success. I’ll help you start this career process. Sign up for our free call. Have an opportunity to see what we’re going to do in our Business Coaching Class and see if it’s right for you. But come join us on our free call.
Keep those cameras rollin’, keep on clickin’.