Arguably the most important skill for mentors? Empathy

I’m lucky that I get the opportunity to sit at the nexus of passionate founders building early stage companies and the community of mentors who wants to support and bolster those founders as they strive to build the next great Portland company. While we all recognize that building a startup is ridiculously difficult, sometimes we forget that founders are suffering from any number of stressors and pressures, despite the stiff upper lip they project.

That’s why I loved this reminder to mentors from Brad Feld of Foundry Group and Techstars.

I want you to replay your joy and fears again for a moment. Having empathy requires you to feel what the other person is going through. To put yourselves in their shoes and feel their fear. And to not immediately try to fix it. Remembering your own hopes and fears will help you have empathy. And this is critical as a mentor because startups are extremely hard.

For more guidance on being an empathetic mentor, read Mentors 18/18: Have Empathy. Remember That Startups Are Hard. For more insights and mentoring on mentoring, read the whole Techstars Mentor Manifesto.