How technology changed the role of mentorship in business

Despite the millions of free online resources for entrepreneurs to tap into, the relevance of mentorship in the business world has not diminished. However the dynamics of this practice have shifted somewhat, as Mychal Connolly explains...

"Go out and take a walk, bicycle ride, drive in your car. Do it and do it by yourself. Whatever Monday morning getaway you choose, just do it, get off the computer."

Those are the words of John Sortino, the man behind the world’s largest teddy bear business - The Vermont Teddy Bear Company. He explained the importance spending time away from the computer screen as he addressed some of his students in an online class. The Hundred Grand Plan course teaches entrepreneurs and business owners how to systemically add a hundred grand to their revenue stream.

In this digital age, so many entrepreneurs sit in front of their computers, or smart phones, seeking answers. They sit around hoping that in some moment of euphoria all the answers to the troubles that face them will pop up in their social media timelines.

I know when I launched my baby gift company, Stinky Cakes, some days I was hoping I could Google or YouTube my way out of a jam. If someone told me all the answers to my business questions couldn’t be found by stroking keys on my keyboard, I would have called them a liar. If they told me I would find the answers I needed by taking a walk, I would have thought that person was mad!

However, the first time I finally started getting the answers to the problems I faced in business was when I met up with one of America's Top CEO's, the aforementioned John Sortino, in person, at a Starbucks in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

One good mentor beats a million videos 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so that would mean a video is worth a million – right? Yet, one good mentor can catapult your success and shorten your learning curve dramatically. 

In the one hour Starbucks conversation with John, we discussed entrepreneurship, business, sales, and marketing. In about 15 minutes, the godfather of radio ads taught me his formula to creating ads that produce 20 million in revenue annually. John spent the other 45 minutes breaking down my business and showing me where I was bleeding money. I was shocked because I thought I had a Fort Knox tight plan. John also gave me his Vermont Teddy Bear COGS formula, which I ended up applying to my business to turn a profit.

How technology has changed the dynamics of mentorship

I gained so much from the tutelage of John that I convinced him to share his knowledge with all my entrepreneurial friends, fans, and followers. The dilemma was how do we create a "Starbucks" setting where everyone could have those clarity moments and access to John's mind to start and grow their businesses like I did. 

We put together a system that allows people to be mentored directly via phone, video chat, email or text message and when it comes to sharing formulas and systems to start or grow their businesses… we screen share. 

Read: Unusual places to make business connections

No amount of Google, video or social media could ever replace having business conversations with experienced mentors that are battle-tested and willing to mentor you to consistent success. 

John went from running a teddy bear peddler's cart, to opening a Willy Wonka like teddy bear factory, to taking his company public with a 120 million dollar market cap. Money and consistent results talk. This is why you need mentorship from people that have been there and done it.

So step away from the computer and listen to your thoughts. Use technology as one of many tools, not at the only tool, to bridge the gap to success in your business.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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