'Shark Tank' investor Kevin Harrington: 'Mentors have helped me all along my way' — here's how to find one

“Shark Tank” investor Kevin Harrington’s advice about how to build a relationship with a mentor.

Kevin Harrington
Source: Kevin Harrington

One of the original sharks on "Shark Tank," Kevin Harrington has had a long career shaping the television landscape and running major media companies. And "the one thing" Harrington credits as helping him consistently find success? Mentors.

"Mentors have helped me all along my way," he tells Grow.

Harrington has also devoted much of his time to mentoring others, including serial entrepreneur Mark Timm. Together, the two wrote "Mentor to Millions: Secrets of Success in Business, Relationships, and Beyond" about Timm's journey founding his multiple businesses and finding a balance in his personal life.

"The one thing that supersuccessful people have had in their lives is mentors," Timm tells Grow. "Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs ― they had people at a really critical stage of their lives step up and give them wisdom that went with their genius."

"You can impact the world if you have mentors," adds Timm.

Here are three pieces of advice the duo have for budding entrepreneurs about finding and getting the most from a mentor.

Attend networking events and 'raise your hand'

Harrington recommends entrepreneurs join networking groups like the Board of Advisors, the Genius Network, War Room, or Entrepreneurs' Organization — and start attending their events.

These days, all events are going virtual, but each will still bring young business people in contact with dozens of veterans, giving them an opportunity to interact and learn. When you're at the events, says Harrington, "you have got to raise your hand" and "you have got to ask for help."

Let your new contacts know what obstacles you're coming across as you build your business. Odds are, you'll find seasoned entrepreneurs willing to offer advice immediately. "That's how it works," he says. "This
is a group of advisors that are there to help you get unstuck."  

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Video by Jason Armesto

Don't forget your personal network, either. Put out a call on Facebook or Instagram and let your friends, family members, and followers know what you're looking for.

Even if no one in your immediate sphere is relevant, "you're probably going to get some responses," says Harrington, because someone in your network may still know someone and put you in contact.

Make it 'really easy' for your potential mentor

Once you find someone experienced in your field who you believe can help you grow as a business owner, reach out and ask if they'll be your mentor. When you do, make sure to let them know upfront that you're "going to value [their] time," says Timm, and that you're going to make mentoring you "really easy" for them.

The way to do this is simple: "Find out where your mentor has margin and put yourself in that margin," says Timm. That is, ask your mentor when they have time in the day that they're not working and can spare a few minutes to chat, and create your schedule around them.  

When Harrington was mentoring Timm, for example, Timm discovered the only times Harrington really had to speak one-on-one were during meals or when he traveled. Timm made sure to be available for Harrington in those moments, going as far as moving his family to St. Petersburg for six weeks when Harrington was there to ensure the two had time together.

The one thing that supersuccessful people have had in their lives is mentors.
Mark Timm
Serial entrepreneur

Be your mentor's 'best student'

Let your mentor know upfront that "I'm going to be your best student," Timm says. Listen to your mentor's advice, implement it between your meetings, and let them know what happened on the ground when you see them next.

"If you want a mentor, you better be willing to make it easy for them and you darn well better be their best student," says Timm.

If you're willing to do those things, he says, "you could get a lot out of that relationship."

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