On Giving Back and Mentoring

imgresHere is an excerpt from an article by Cheryl Yeoh for LinkedIn Pulse. To read the complete article and check out others, please click here.

* * *

A few months ago, I received an email from the Lester Knight Scholarship and Rolband Fellowship Fund that funded my Masters in Engineering at Cornell University in New York. The founder of the scholarship fund asked former recipients to chip in, and I ended up contributing because without it, I’d never be where I am today. Similarly, one of the reasons I returned to Malaysia to build the startup ecosystem here is my way of giving back to the country, as a government JPA scholar myself. I believe that recognising all the parties that have attributed to your success reinforces a virtuous cycle of gratefulness and good deed.

People say that part of being successful in business is to be likable, and I cannot agree more. Likable people will attract others who will volunteer their time and resources to help them be successful. When I look back at my early startup days, many people went out of their way to support me, often times for nothing in return because they liked my grit and passion as an entrepreneur. Likeable people are humble, willing to learn, hardworking, and persistent. They do their research beforehand and ask intelligent questions. They also offer to help or add value, before they ask for help.

Misconceptions About Mentoring

Firstly, it’s time for them to come out and #doyourpart. Secondly, the truth is that we don’t always need successful people to mentor us. When I started up in New York, we had a similar lack of mentors in the NY tech scene and many of us ended up peer-mentoring each other, which actually worked wonders.

Mentees should not expect mentors to give miraculous answers that will solve all their problems. Mentoring is really about building a two-way relationship where both parties derive something from each other and gain the satisfaction in knowing they’ve added or derived value. Generally, good “mentors” subscribe to the Socratic method and will ask deliberate questions so that the other person can ponder and think from different perspectives to help with decision-making.

Therefore, what entrepreneurs really need is a room full of smart people who are not in their day-to-day network to bounce ideas off each other, leverage different experiences and perspectives, and share challenges. Usually, verbalizing the problem statement is already half the problem solved. And that’s why we need the startup community to come out and talk to each other more. Too many Malaysian entrepreneurs are too cocooned up and don’t get enough of these valuable interactions.

* * *

Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Cheryl Yeoh is CEO, Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Center (MaGIC), Formerly Walmart Labs via Reclip It, and based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.