An Open Letter: Why Time is the Most Valuable Currency Any Mentor Can Give

Having a mentor in business has become almost inevitable, especially if you are an entrepreneur or SME trying to navigate the corporate world today. We all appreciate having some form of support system in place, guiding us through tough decisions and early learnings – an inspiration in many ways, helping us to stay on track.

While these things undoubtedly help your business to grow, almost like a tick list to success, it’s the other, less measurable impact that I want to talk about today. There are some people who leave such a positive imprint on our lives and more often than not, they don’t even realize they have had this effect. We may quantify this by the hours clocked up, or the immediate influence that mentors have on the bottom line, yet rarely do we stop to think about how much actual time is needed to help you, both professionally and personally.

Time is an important part of the mentor/mentee relationship, yet we don’t give it the platform it deserves – and that’s the purpose of today’s post. While it’s true that a powerful influence can help shape any outcome, it’s the thought, the patience and ultimately, the time, that goes into being a mentor that we really need to be thankful for.

So, here goes. An open letter to my mentor, the one who took the time to notice, the time to talk, the time to be there. This is for you.

Dear David,

I was reminded of you today. Asked to recount my entrepreneurial history, I found myself thinking about who has inspired me along the way. On a day where I was intimidated by who surrounded me as I took to the stage for the first time, you were a friendly face in a sea of unknowns.

It’s true that mentors come in many forms, and while I know you would be reluctant to take on that official moniker, this is what you are to me. My friend, of course, an advisor without even meaning to be, a shot of validation that keeps me striving for better each and every day.

I don’t know if you ever knew this, but the day I met you was one of my first international speaking events. I was so nervous to speak after you; your reputation preceded you. The last thing I expected was for you to so generously give up some of your precious time and exchange more than a few words with me.

Yet, I’ve come to realise this is just one of the many defining characteristics that makes you such an extraordinary person. Your kindness first and foremost, which goes hand in hand with your trusting nature and intuition with those you meet. Your dinner salons, just one example of how you connect people from different backgrounds and disciplines, helping them along their journey, inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. Your time is valuable and yet, you make the effort to relate to people, to nurture their talent, to genuinely take an interest. It’s a rare thing to find these days, which is why this sticks with me when I think of you. I feel very privileged to know you and count you amongst my friends, even though we don’t see each other regularly.

Our encounters have often centred on me talking and you listening; always making time to hear from me and discuss my news, clearing your diary just to sit across from me at Pret and listen. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that. Having started out like most entrepreneurs with a burning passion for what I did, you taught me about balance and how passion alone wouldn’t also be enough to sustain a business. You made me see that I needed to rethink things and prioritize. You helped get my drive back, refuelling my passion to succeed.

I hope that one day I can extend the same courtesy as you did to me, helping someone else find their way, being considered as a mentor myself. It’s clear that it’s not what you know, but how you act that sets you apart in this world. As soft skills still pale in comparison to cold logic at times, you should know that your simple act of kindness set me on the right path, newly emboldened and confident in my abilities.

I’ve never actually thanked you for the courage, advice, mentorship, and support that you have given me over the years. You’ve empowered me both as a person and as an intrepid entrepreneur.

The world needs more David’s in it. If you have one, let them know.

Carla creates data visual materials with the end user in mind