"Do you remember when you first heard of Harvard Business School? I found out from my Dad's bookshelf. He had a bookshelf full of boring books about golf and amongst them was one entitled: What they don't teach you at Harvard Business School. It was many years before I became interested in what they do actually teach you at Harvard Business School. The anti-HBS book basically comes down to 2 things - sales and how to read people." So intriguingly I started to hear about a guy called Larry Chiang, a credit score vigilante (a black art in itself), a successful entrepreneur and a Business Week blogger (I'm sure you remember Business Week forums, even if you will not admit it!). If you haven't met Larry yet, at some point you will. He'll pretty much make sure of it. What they don't teach you at Stanford GSB is his new book. His view of entrepreneurship varies somewhat from the HBS model and includes articles such as "Crashing Parties = Entrepreneurship" and "How to Work a Conference as a Hottie." Whilst tempting to linger on those topics, the job market demands that this article moves on to another of Larry's points of focus - Mentorship. Larry, Mentorship, please explain… People focus on finding a job, but if you find a great mentor, finding a job is the easiest thing you can do, and it's absolutely essential to entrepreneurship. You can also have more than just one mentor. Why restrict yourself to one mentor? Most of the great success stories have great mentors (think Jamie Dimon + Sandy Weill!). I suggest you watch the movie Monsters, Inc. That's mentorship 401 where Sulley gets mentored by Waternoose, Mike, Boo and even Randall (What?! You don't watch cartoons at HBS? Pixar is strategy!). Face it, most business is cut and paste, how good your template starts off defines how good you will be. It is so about standing on the shoulders of giants. Great - so how do you go about finding a mentor? 8 points Woo your would-be mentor by reading about them (googling someone is just polite, not stalker behavior). Be value-added. It's a 2-way relationship and you can give as much as you receive. If you hear of a great new book, or article, email them about it. Stalk them into being a temporary book club pen pal. Study buddies turn into work buddies and work buddies will mentor you. Kiss ass/be positive - they need to feel good about how they are spending their time. Does anyone not like the phrase, "I am a fan of yours?" Follow up after your first meeting. Most people don't. Snail mail is also very unique these days! Bribe them with personal touches (everyone likes chocolate). My bribes come in the form of handwritten cards-simple, I know, but that's what works-notes interwoven in office junk mail to brighten up the post box leave an impression. Make it simple for them to "feel" what you do and why. It's easier if what you do is helping other people. Then they can be a consumer advocate, too. But regardless they need to be able to explain you in two sound bytes to someone else. Leverage mentor dynamics. People that are like each other tend to like each other. Maybe their kids don't listen. But you will. Find one that is similar to you. Thank your mentor publicly. When you see them at networking events, point and say: "Hey look there's my mentor!" They may deny it feels good but deep down mentors love to be recognized. So is an HBS/GSB MBA a waste of time? Not at all, I think it's hugely valuable. However, the faster you can adopt the community college hustle, the faster you'll succeed. In the first 4 years out there, major setbacks will test your mettle. How you deal with it will define much of what you go on to do. This is where a mentor is most valuable. They see things that you don't. Here is... --The Harvard Business School Paper, Harbus
"Chiang puts some things in perspective for those at the GSB who have big ideas, but little sense of reality." --The Stanford Business School Reporter
About the Author
Larry loves mentorship, selling stuff, entrepreneuring and crashing parties (and conferences). Right now, he has a column at Business Week called, ""What They Don't Teach You At Business School".