This Is the Key to a Productive Mentorship

What are some of the best recruiting and hiring practices when founding a company? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by James Beshara, CEO and Co-Founder of Tilt, on Quora.

In my opinion, mentorships need to form organically, and they need to be mutually beneficial. If it's not, the interest from one or both sides will wane pretty quickly. The way to approach it isn't finding someone and saying, "You're going to be the mentor and I'm going to listen to what you have to say"; it's more like, "Wow, in a 45-minute coffee meeting with that girl, I've learned more than I've learned in the past three months on the ground."

On the topic of advice and mentorship though, especially when you have multiple mentors, Marc Andreessen once told me something that I'll never forget -- and that is that "the best founders understand 'nuance'".

They can hear completely conflicting pieces of advice between Monday and Tuesday that are both correct and be able to make sense of what's right for their specific company. In other words, you can always gain insight from others, but you should never outsource your thinking since the only generic startup advice is that there is no generic startup advice, so constantly put advice through a lens of "what makes sense for us."

Oftentimes, early on, I would find myself looking to mentors for answers and that's not necessarily a great place to find them. They can be excellent at asking some great questions, but the 'answers' part of the equation are a different story, I think.

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