The magic of mentoring: Why mentoring is a two-way street

Researchers call it ‘the protégé effect’ – the phenomenon where explaining concepts to other people strengthens and reinforces your own understanding of them. 

Roman philosopher Seneca summed it up more succinctly: “When we teach, we learn.” 

However you explain it, there’s no denying the act of mentoring is a mutually beneficial process. Of course, it can provide the mentee with access to expertise, resources and connections they wouldn’t have had otherwise, but there’s also plenty of room for the mentor to benefit from the sessions.

Since the launch of Brisbane Business Hub’s mentoring program in 2020, that’s certainly been our experience. We’ve sat down with a slew of the business leaders and experts participating in the program to discuss their experience, and one thing continues to ring true – the mentors find the experience to be just as valuable for them and their businesses as it is for their mentees. 

Carolyn Grant, CEO of People Plus Science, has been mentoring for over 17 years. She says she still finds it reinvigorating, because it allows her to keep her finger on the pulse and reconnect with what got her into business in the first place.

“I think you get a real buzz out of working with a lot of founders and sole traders because they are so passionate about what they’re doing,” she says. “That 90 minutes of mentoring is actually valuable. You go back to your own work and you’re extremely productive, you’re extremely engaged, and you’re leveraging that burst of energy.

“Mentoring through the Brisbane Business Hub’s program brings its own wealth of benefits. You’ve got a great location to meet, connect and network, and it allows you to keep up-to-date with the challenges people in business are facing and what is happening in the market.

“I also get the additional bonus of working with and meeting a lot of other mentors that are participating in the program who are experts in their fields. So you’re also learning from them and their diverse experience and skills, to effectively create some growth for yourself as well as for your mentee. It really is a two-pronged approach, and it’s rewarding on both sides.”

Apéro Label co-founder and general manager Laz Smith – another of the Brisbane Business Hub’s mentors – agrees and says the mentees he’s met with have taught him as much as he’s taught them. 

“As soon as I met my first mentee, it was obvious that I was going to get as much out of the mentoring process as they would,” Laz says. 

“It’s been valuable for me to be able to share my experience with other people, and to reflect on my successes and my failures and consider what they’ve taught me. On the flip side, often the mentees will say something that might sound benign in the moment, but it’ll actually be a massive light bulb moment for me.” 

For Brisbane Business Hub mentor Anomi Bruynius, a shortlisted applicant for the Lord Mayor’s Small Business of the Year Awards and the CEO and Managing Director of Tolerro, it’s the chance to give back to the community that she finds valuable.

“Mentoring at the Brisbane Business Hub is very rewarding,” Anomi says. “It is a platform where you can give your guidance and give your experience, and share the lessons that you’ve learned with the up-and-coming young leaders of today who will be our leaders of tomorrow.”

Andrew Coronis, CEO of The Coronis Group, also sees serving as a Brisbane Business Hub mentor as a chance to give back. 

“If I can do that through the Brisbane Business Hub, if I can help people grow, then I get a lot out of the mentoring relationship,” he says. 

“My experience as a mentor has been fantastic. It’s very rewarding to come and meet people from a diverse range of businesses and have to think laterally – not only for them, but for yourself as well. So I think it gives back both ways.”

An experienced perspective

While it’s important that the mentors get something out of the experience, it’s crucial that mentees also come away from the sessions with something valuable. 

Anomi Bruynius says that being mentored is an indispensable opportunity for mentees to receive objective guidance and advice. 

“When you start a business, you are excited, because you have passion and purpose,” Anomi says. “For an entrepreneur and a business owner, there is a lot of support from your family and close friends, but they can be as emotionally invested in your success as you are.

“A mentor, on the other hand, is an external person who can look at your situation objectively and give you advice and guidance because they have walked that path of business ownership and business leadership before.

“At the same time, a mentor can help a mentee to dig deep for courage when there are ups and downs and challenges, and guide you if you lose your confidence, reminding you why you got into business in the first place.”

In Carolyn Grant’s opinion, having a mentor is priceless.

“It’s important to have an external perspective from someone who is not in the weeds with you,” she says. “Someone who is able to think a bit more strategically, and in some cases apply critical thinking for you when you’re struggling to do so.

“And if you get a mentor that can connect you – whether it be to grants, or whether it be to organisations to actually get your product into the market faster – those sorts of connections are absolutely priceless.”

When is the right time?

It can be a lonely climb to the top for many entrepreneurs. Carolyn says that having someone on your side to provide that extra guidance and challenge your thinking is crucial.

“A business mentor can be valuable at any stage in your business journey, from ideas and concepts and development to sales and marketing and commercialising into the marketplace,” she says.

“But who you need as a mentor will depend on your business stage and what advice you are looking for. It’s not the case that one size fits all.”

That’s why Anomi appreciates the time and effort the Brisbane Business Hub puts towards matching mentees with their mentors. 

“They take the time to understand the mentee, understand their questions, and select a mentor who can support that,” she says. “It takes effort to make that match, but it makes the relationship much more beneficial for all involved. 

“I think the ideal time to find a mentor is when you are ready – when you think that a mentor can add value to your journey as a business person, but also as someone who is looking to be a better person.”

If you’re ready to be mentored or become a mentor, you can learn more about the Brisbane Business Hub mentoring program here

Written By

Brisbane Business Hub



Business in BrisbaneLeadershipMenteeMentorMentoringWomen in Business


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