A Conversation on Mentoring for Startups

March 30, 2016

Entrepreneurs’ primary mission is for their companies to grow and succeed. One of the best ways to wade through the crazy ups and downs of being an entrepreneur is to partner with someone who’s done it before.As a healthcare executive, entrepreneur, and consultant for over 3 decades, Terry Bauer has focused upon establishing, managing, and motivating high-performance, market-driven executive and management teams. He has built several organizations from startup through exit.For the past year and a half, Terry has mentored one of our awesome Villagers, Kashi Segal, CEO of Gigabark. Village Mentor Coordinator, Raleigh Rose, sat down with these two entrepreneurs to get the scoop on how this whole mentoring things works for them.

Q: Tell me how you two began your mentoring relationship.

Terry: The woman who did the audit for my company, Kim Hartsock, met Kashi at a 40 under 40 event. We met at L’Madeline by Perimeter Mall. We just met, she told me what she was doing, I asked her how I could help her, and we just chatted and brainstormed. I made some intros for her, and she’s the one who introduced me to the Village.Kashi: One of my mentors (now a board member) had book launch event, and I met one of his partners. She was so amazing that I wanted to take her to coffee and pick her brain. She said, “Oh, you’re in healthcare? You HAVE to meet Terry Bauer.” So I took her up on it. Terry has become one of the most invaluable people to me personally and in the business. I walked away with like 6 to-dos. He was the most open, genuine, wanting-to-help person. He really wants me to succeed. If you’re a good, logical person, you don’t take advantage of a mentor like that.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned from your mentoring relationship?

Terry: Gosh, there’s so many things. Sometimes she’s afraid to ask me for help. I always tell her to call and ask me for help; I’m always available. She feels like she’s infringing on my time, but I enjoy it. It’s never infringing on my time. If I can’t talk right then, I’ll call her back. We’ve been meeting together for about a year and a half. She’s brilliant. She’s very, very, very thoughtful about the things that she does. She can do anything she wants, obviously. I see so much potential in her. It’s fun to see the evolution.Kashi: I feel a lot more comfortable in my reasoning process. He’s helped me feel a lot more comfortable in the decisions I’m making. I haven’t learned any one fact, but I think the best mentors aren’t telling you HOW to do things. They make you feel comfortable growing. They shouldn’t be telling you what to do but teach you how to grow in doing it yourself. You have to put some thought into the mentoring relationship. They aren’t there to think for you. You have to do that on your own. But a good mentor helps guide you and make you feel like you have the resources and support you need to be making - and Terry for sure is that way. It’s distinct from hiring a consultant. You hire people to think for you. A mentor is someone you have a relationship with.

Q: What is one universal lesson that can be applied to any entrepreneur from a mentoring relationship?

Terry: I met with a mentor once for two and a half hours; he was DELIGHTED to meet with me. I learned more then than I could in 2 years on my own. It’s okay to ask for help. We had dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dallas in 1996. I remember where we sat, what we ate, and yet I’d never seen him before, and I’ll never see him again. It was just as simple as calling him, telling him I’d be in town, and asking if I could buy him dinner. I’ve been very lucky; I’ve had mentors since I was kid. A mentor is somebody who pays attention to you. It’s whether they yell at you, tell you you’re a jerk, or whether they’re coddling. It’s really this simple: they pay you attention.Kashi: There are a lot of intangibles, just knowing there’s somebody I can go to. “I’m not really sure what to do” - just in terms of that, Terry’s been incredibly meaningful to have around. If I identify a company we need to work with, he will go out of his way to make sure we get connected. If he were to tell me one of my ideas is stupid, I’d totally abandon it because I trust his judgment. He helps guide me; it’s more of a conversation than a directive. He lets me learn for myself. There’s no agenda for our meetings. He’s great to bounce ideas off of.Terry loves mentoring entrepreneurs at the Village: “I love sharing the mistakes I’ve made so others don’t have to make the same ones. I love doing that. I’ve made more mistakes than I have successes.”The Village has programs stacked with amazing mentors and advisors just like Terry who have a world of advice and wisdom to share. If you aren't here, get connected somewhere. Mentoring can be a powerful thing.Today's post was written by Raleigh Rose, Atlanta Tech Village's Mentor Coordinator.

March 30, 2016
Karen Houghton