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A Mentor Is A Game Changer Believes Oresti Patricios Of Ornico Group

The mentor/mentee relationship is one of the most important foundations of business success. Here’s how to get it right.

Nadine Todd

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Oresti Patricios

Vital Stats

  • Player: Oresti Patricios
  • Company: Ornico Group
  • What they do: Ornico Group is a leading media information provider that collects, distills, measures and analyses data in order to inform clients of trends, competitor information, gap analysis and reputational risk. Ornico Group works with 85 of the top 100 advertisers in South Africa.
  • Visit: ornico.co.za

When it comes to start-ups, Oresti Patricios, founder of the Ornico Group, says he has no core advice for entrepreneurs to follow. In his experience, each entrepreneur — and their business — is different.

This isn’t to say that start-ups don’t face similar challenges — they do, but how they deal with them, and what works and doesn’t work, is influenced by personality, experience and world outlook — amongst other things.

It’s one of the reasons he finds mentoring so rewarding and fulfilling, and why he believes every entrepreneur should either have a mentor, or be a mentor.

“Over the years I’ve discovered that I learn from entrepreneurs whom I mentor as much as they learn from me,” he says.

Related: 8 Secrets Your Business Mentor Won’t Tell You

“A successful mentor/mentee relationship must be reciprocal. Whichever side you’re approaching this from, consider what both parties will get from the relationship. Unless you both benefit in some way, it won’t be a success — it will just be a waste of time for both of you, and time is a finite, infinitely valuable resource.”

1Finding a good fit

Oresti knows from personal experience that not every mentoring relationship works. “At one point I was mentoring six start-ups, all one and two-man businesses. Three were going very well, and three weren’t. I wasn’t sure if I was wasting everybody’s time, or if perhaps I wasn’t explaining things properly, so I invited all six to a group session.

“It became very clear that in three cases we had a good fit, and in the others we didn’t. I learnt how important that relationship is. Your values, personalities and goals must align. Two of the three that weren’t working left entrepreneurship and have pursued very successful corporate careers, and we still keep in touch, but the mentoring relationship didn’t work.

“That’s okay. If that happens, don’t give up. Leave on amiable terms and find a better fit. This is such an important relationship, make sure it’s the right one, and that it works for both of you. The best relationships are reciprocal, and they are so rewarding when they do work out.”

2Be willing to learn

ornico-group-logo

But you need to be open to being mentored, and not all start-up entrepreneurs are ready for the rigours of a mentor/mentee relationship — or mentors for that matter.

“I also went to university and thought I knew everything,” says Oresti. “It takes time and maturity to realise you don’t have all the answers, but it’s still a two way street.

Related: 5 Business Lessons From Billionaire Mentors

“There’s so much to address and understand in South Africa. I have a business relationship with my mentees, but our discussions cover everything, from ‘fees must fall’ to the rise of black consciousness. They open my mind, which is incredibly beneficial to me, as a South African, a business owner and most importantly for the advice I offer my clients.

“The best mentor/mentee relationships cross boundaries — cultural, age, backgrounds and experiences. That’s how you can share ideas and perspectives, and hopefully both grow.”

3Creating safe spaces

For a relationship like this to work though, honest and open discussions in a safe space are essential.

“You need to consciously create a safe space where politics, culture and business can be discussed in tandem. You can’t do this properly without evaluating all factors affecting society, markets, businesses and even politics. The goal is to learn, share and grow — together.

“I often discuss topics around the perspectives and perceptions of blackness for example. I come from a very western perspective, and have a lot to learn in this regard; similarly, I have a lot to offer when it comes to three decades of business experience with big local and international brands.

“Consider this, if I say a red car what immediately comes to mind? It might be a red Ferrari. It might be a Beetle or Porsche. The point is that we could be picturing completely different cars, and yet assume we are on exactly the same page, without digging deeper.

“These discussions can often feel uncomfortable — and they should — but they also need to happen. That’s how we grow, together. If we don’t start understanding things from the various cultural, gender, race and age perspectives in South Africa, we will never fully thrive as a society — and business has a very important role to play in this regard, not least of all as the bedrock of economic growth.”

What to look for in a mentor

As a start-up, one of the best things you can do for personal and business growth is find a mentor. Don’t look for someone who is exactly like you. Look within your industry, because industry experience can add enormous value to your business acumen, but more important is someone who can offer a different perspective to your own.

Related: How To Find A Strong Mentor To Guide You To Business Success

You also need to ensure that your goals and values align. This is a very personal relationship, and you will have difficult conversations, about your business and society in general. If you don’t respect each other, the relationship won’t work.

Don’t be shy to approach a potential mentor. The worst thing that could happen is that they say no. That’s okay, just keep looking. Many, many established business owners want to be mentors — you just have to find the right fit. Join associations and attend networking events. You can’t find your mentor if you aren’t out there meeting people.

Do this

Find a mentor who you are willing to discuss everything with, from business to culture to politics. The more you can learn from each other, the more you will both grow. Successful mentor/mentee relationships are completely reciprocal.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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Lessons Learnt

How Kevin Hart Went From Being A Comedian To The Guy Who Owns Comedy

He’s one of America’s most famous funnymen, but here’s what most people don’t see: Kevin Hart is often in his office, running a far more ambitious comedy machine.

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Considering how proud Kevin Hart is of the headquarters of his company, you’d think the place would be downright palatial. But it’s not. It’s simple, almost austere. It’s a series of small offices, a reception area and a conference room, and it takes up a floor of a non­descript building in downtown Encino, Calif., on Ventura Boulevard, across from a Korean BBQ joint.

The rooms are sparsely furnished. There are a lot of photos and posters of Hart, of course, but otherwise there is no expensive art, no designer tchotchkes on the credenzas, no tasteful floor coverings that could fund a motion picture production.

No, the thing about this office that fills Kevin Hart with such pride isn’t its appearance. It’s the fact that it’s still his.

Back in 2009, when he took out a two-year lease on just a small portion of the space to house his startup, HartBeat Productions, Hart was worried he wasn’t going to be able to afford it. This was before his comedy specials became some of the highest-grossing of all time. Before his social media profile grew to near record-­setting proportions. Before Kevin Hart Day was declared in Philadelphia. Before he became one of the biggest stars on Earth.

“When I first got here,” he says, “and this is before the money was where it is now, this was the dream. Every day I get to see this and I get to go, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to do it, man? Shit. I done took out the two-year goddamn lease on this place!’ ’

But he loved the “aspirational” view from what is still his personal office, and he had a plan, drawn from a hard-earned epiphany. Historically, comedians and actors, even very successful ones, are simply cogs in a very large machine.

For all the fame, and the money and the glamour, they are essentially powerless against the whims of that machine. They are the product. They do their best, work their hardest, earn what they can and at the end of the day, they’re left with fading fame and whatever money they were able to bank along the way.

Hart saw this state of affairs early in his stand-up comedy career and decided to try something different. Something risky. The idea was this: Create something lasting. Something that will go on when you’re done. Don’t just show up, do your best and then go away.

Related: 10 Quotes On Following Your Dreams, Having Passion And Showing Hard Work From Tech Guru Michael Dell

Don’t make money mostly for other people. Own what you do. Perfect your craft, of course, but in so doing, create a sustainable, revenue-­generating enterprise that can run profitably long after the world has had enough of seeing your face and hearing your jokes.

In short, the idea Kevin Hart had, as he stood nervously in that office in 2009, was this: Don’t be the cog. Be the machine.

And so he is.

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Lessons Learnt

Can Being Deceptive Help You Build Your Business? It Worked For These 5 Entrepreneurs

We’ve all told little white lies. But what about the big ones? What if telling them would bring your business success?

Jayson Demers

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elon-musk

We all commit little acts of deception, like saying we got stuck in traffic when we were really late to the meeting because we wanted to watch the last five minutes of a favourite TV show. Little white lies? I’ve told them. You’ve told them.

But what about big lies, the kind truly lacking in integrity – like misrepresenting your sales to a prospective investor?

Obviously, there are often severe consequences to lying. Depending on the context, you could lose the trust of a peer, break a professional relationship or even face legal action. Yet, despite these consequences, lying is more common in the entrepreneurial world than you might think.

Just take as an example these five entrepreneurs, who might not be as well known or successful as they are if it weren’t for some clever acts of deception:

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Three Habits That Underpin Entrepreneurial Success

Here are three powerful habits that will help you stay focused, define your entrepreneurial attitude and take your business from zero to hero.

Nicholas Bell

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business-man-success

Successful people and businesses don’t all share the same traits and commitments. Yes they all have managed to break barriers and achieve impressive goals. They’re the leaders, the movers, the shakers and the industry creators. However, not all entrepreneurs are created equal and their recipes for success can differ wildly.

Some swear by a three-hour run every morning followed by a nice salad and the bustle of busy work life. Others need an incredibly early start so they can spend time with their emails and focus on their business. Every entrepreneur has their  own secret tricks that keep them on the straight and successful narrow, but most share a few simple habits that are guaranteed to make a difference.

Here are three habits that will help you become better at business and at leading others towards long-term success:

1. Always be ready to change your assumptions

Many people are unable to change the assumptions they have about their business and its future as it evolves. No business model should be locked in cement and rigidly upheld, it will need to adapt and adjust as it grows and customer needs change. As an entrepreneur you need to understand this concept and be prepared to evolve and change in new directions and markets.

Related: Business Plan Format Guide

This also ties into failure. Do you understand why you failed at something? Are you aware that perhaps your business model is changing? Can you learn from these experiences? Can you adjust your business model, get better research, refine your ideas? If you are ready to take positive value out of these moments and experiences, then you are an agile and inspired entrepreneur.

2. There’s no off switch

Passion and commitment are absolutely key to the success of your business and your own personal growth. You can’t switch off or walk away or just take a sick day because you feel like it, not if you want to stand as an example to your employees or if you want to build a brilliant business.

It may sound trite and tired, but a work ethic is the single most important habit to have as an entrepreneur. You need to always hold yourself to the highest standards, commit to ethical practice and work harder than anyone else.

3. Take it personally

This doesn’t mean gentle sobs in your office when Susan from accounts ridicules your maths skills. If you take your business personally, then you are wrapping the skills learned in points 1 and 2 above into one cohesive whole – you are embedding your passion into every crevice of your company. Care about what you do, be passionate about what it stands for, and be prepared to fight for its life. The route from zero to billion-dollar business isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

Remember, the idea is only 1%. Sweat, work, commitment and focus are the other 99% of the success equation.

Related: 22 Defining Entrepreneur Characteristics

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