A Guide For The Protégé

Mentorship is more valuable than a Harvard professor nowadays. I have built and bridged my success from being mentored to being the mentor. I live by the saying, "True leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders."

Since I was a child, my father embedded in my brain the importance of being a leader and not a follower. Coming from the man who is my ultimate inspiration, working over 40 years to provide for his family and building my foundation for success, these values never leave my side.

Having a mentor in your life is priceless, but only if it is pure. The intentions of the protégé have to be clear -- to learn -- and the intentions of the mentor are clear: to teach. Now, that teaching has many implications.

The knowledge and wisdom itself offers a major advantage. This advantage can lead to better jobs, more money and more power for the protégé, but all of these things should be irrelevant. The protégé should be focused on knowledge and the mentor has to be willing to give the answers.

I recently watched a good film that I think perfectly demonstrates the way a relationship should be between the mentor and protégé, starring Gerard Butler, "Chasing Mavericks." You will notice that a truly good mentor should never be too friendly in the beginning of the relationship.

Encouragement is overrated and the mentor should always give honest, supportive feedback focused on brutal facts. Whether the protégé likes it or not, this is what will make him mentally strong and able to motivate himself to be the best he can be. Some protégés think having a mentor is like getting a lottery ticket, where they can lean back and follow, and the mentor will take care of him or her. This is not the case.

A mentor is going to challenge you in many ways, including your will to work mentally and physically. A mentor is going to be a representative of the real world. And it's a cruel and heartless world, that if you are not willing to outwork the next person, you will be left for the wolves. I believe that work-ethic will always beat talent.

Note there is a difference between an experienced friend who occasionally gives you advice and a mentor. A mentor should be a little intimidating, yet professionally admirable -- but not all that affable.

In fact, sometimes your mentor should, plainly and simply, come off as a jerk, but remember a mentor doesn't need to be kind -- they need to be right. A good mentor should be someone whose success is equaled only by reticence, with no time wasted on niceties.

Business comes first. As a protégé you should strive for the same motivation, hunger and passion that has succeeded your mentor. If you can handle it, have the courage, and are lucky enough to find a mentor who is truly willing to tell it to you straight while teaching you to be a leader, then maybe you will succeed in this vicious shark tank of Gen-Y entrepreneurs.

Here is a checklist for a protégé:

  • A good mentor should have five years more experience than you.
  • Be eager and willing to listen.
  • Be affable.
  • Ask questions, but not too many.
  • Be proactive.
  • Want the success of your mentor.
  • Want the mentor's car someday.
  • Be deferential.
  • Be respectful and have gratitude.
  • Be loyal.
  • Be willing to outwork anyone and everyone.
  • Never say can't or no.
  • Be as smart as, but not as wise as your mentor.
  • Do not give out your mentor's information and do not tweet them.
  • Do not start dressing, laughing or adopting the same hairstyle as the mentor. Don't pretend to be the mentor.
  • Do not commit a crime for the mentor -- but, briefly consider it.

Follow these steps and you're on your way to becoming the next millionaire, as I was before the age of 25.

Eduardo Camilo | Elite.