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9 Mentor Traits To Look For and Why They Matter

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9 Mentor Traits To Look For and Why They Matter


Finding someone with the perfect combination of mentor traits is no simple task.

A good mentor is inspiring, yet accessible. They have the time to listen and also have their own successful career. They’re empathetic and give honest feedback.

With so many qualities to consider, it’s no wonder people feel overwhelmed when looking for a mentor.

The thing is, not all mentors have the same impact. Think about the ones you’ve had in your life so far. Some may have been amazing (lucky, you!) while others may have been more concerned about their problems and egos.

Finding a good mentor is important for building a successful career. Mentors can share which skills you need to get promoted, give tips for managing workplace relationships, and introduce you to their expansive network. The benefits are endless.

Now, you need to find someone who fits the bill. You may even be working to become a mentor yourself. Either way, we’ll walk through what a mentor is and which traits to look for so you recognize a great mentor when they cross your path.

What is a mentor?

A mentor is a trusted advisor who provides you with the tools, guidance, and feedback you need to succeed in your career. Almost anyone can be a mentor – a peer, a manager, a friend, a boss, a school alumnus, or a family member.

But a mentor isn’t an influencer or someone you only follow online. They need to be connected to your life and consistent enough to advise you over a period of time. That said, a mentorship relationship can last for years or a short period of time.

The longer you know a mentor, the more they get to know your learning style, personality, and long-term goals. This lets them share advice that’s more relevant to you and full of context. On the other hand, short mentor-mentee relationships are great for handling specific situations or challenges. For example, you may meet a mentor through an informational interview while job hunting. If all goes well, they might offer you a referral or connect you to the hiring manager.

Both short and long-term mentorships can help you grow and expand your network. Chances are, you’ll have both types of mentors throughout your career. As you look for your go-to people for career guidance, keep these top nine mentor traits in mind.

9 Qualities of a Good Mentor

1. Identifies Your Needs and Strengths

Everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses. A good mentor understands this and works to learn what makes their mentee tick.

While you likely have an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, it’s helpful to hear what someone else thinks. For example, I consider myself a strong communicator. But a few years back, one of my mentors recommended that I incorporate more empathy into my feedback.

My direct style wasn’t always the best approach. So before sending feedback, I’d ask my mentor to look over my points and make recommendations. In time, I learned how to share feedback that was more considerate, clear, and empathetic.

A great mentor knows how to build your weaknesses and expand your strengths so you fill in important skill gaps.

2. Shares Room for Improvement

It’s tough to give honest feedback. It requires incredible communication skills and a level of openness that not many people are comfortable spending time in.

That’s why a mentor who “finds ways for you to grow in areas inside and outside the workplace” is irreplaceable, said Ashlie Benson, Chief of Staff for Agricycle Global. This trait is what differentiates a mentor from a cheerleader.

A mentor knows your career progression, your desired path, and your strengths and weaknesses. They can see the gaps that need to be filled to achieve your goals. A cheerleader, on the other hand, is only there to offer encouragement.

While a mentor can be a cheerleader at times, their role is to make you better – not just make you feel better.

3. Gains Your Trust and Respect

A mentor is someone you can look up to. You respect them for their work, their ethos, and their unique personality.

You also may share information with them that you don’t share with anyone else, which is why they have to be trustworthy. For any mentor-mentee relationship to last – and be beneficial for both sides – you need to be able to have difficult conversations. This can include talking through issues that arise at work (such as salary negotiations, promotions, difficulties with a colleague or manager, quitting a job, or getting let go).

Trusting someone enough to share challenges takes time. So look for a mentor who respects this time and doesn’t push you to spill personal information right from the start. The goal is to build a relationship that’s open, respectful, and professional.

4. Expresses Empathy

Empathy is important for every working relationship, but it’s an essential quality for mentorship.

Mentors with high levels of emotional intelligence listen to and empathize with you. They understand that you’re human and make mistakes. And they make you feel comfortable talking about both the good and the bad things happening in your life.

That’s why it’s best to look for a mentor who understands that life happens, people get sick, and priorities change. They should be willing to show their humanity and offer guidance in a way that resonates with you as a person.

5. Has Relevant Knowledge and Skills

Of all the traits to look for in a mentor, this one usually matters most.

Mentors with relevant knowledge and skills have been in a similar position as you, so they can offer role or industry-specific advice as you navigate your career and achieve your goals.

I looked for a mentor with this specific quality when I started my own company. I didn’t have much experience negotiating contracts, managing budgets, or handling unpaid invoices. I needed guidance beyond Google.

Fortunately, I found Austin Adesso, who had been successfully running his creative agency Partners in Post for several years. His advice helped me learn to negotiate longer contracts and charge a competitive price for my work.

Find a mentor with the skills and experience you’d like to have, and rely on them for knowledge. Just remember that your journey is unique, so do what feels right for you when considering the tips they offer.

6. Listens and Reflects

It’s easy to hand out advice. But it takes skill to know whether or not that advice is great for the person you give it to.

Great mentors understand the importance of active listening and intentional guidance. They ask questions to figure out every angle of a situation before offering suggestions. Sometimes, they simply listen.

Mentors who can listen and reflect on the information they’re given often understand more about you as a person. They know your specific history and situation, so their suggestions are more relevant to you. One mentor of mine often lets me talk through issues without offering a single piece of advice. Instead, they ask questions to help me come to my own conclusions. This has developed my problem-solving skills, as well as my confidence in decision-making.

If you know someone who is a great listener and offers thoughtful advice, they may be a good mentor for you.

7. Invested in Your Growth and Development

Mentors help you grow both personally and professionally by sharing ways to improve and offering timely advice.

But what sets the best mentors apart is the ability to focus on your development as well as their own. Of course, you want a mentor who has been in your position and who can help you grow. If a mentor also puts time into developing themselves and breaking out of their comfort zones, you’ve found a gem.

These types of people often have their own mentors. They constantly work to improve themselves and are usually life-long learners. Not only do they pursue their own passions, but they also encourage your goals and creativity.

8. Strong Relationships and Networks

Not all mentors are older or more experienced than you. Personally, I have a mentor who is younger than me but with many more years of experience in a particular niche.

The one thing you do want to consider, despite age or experience, is your mentor’s relationships. Do they have a strong network? Are they connected to influential people in your industry? Are they willing to introduce you or recommend you for a role?

A good mentor has spent years developing solid relationships with people – and they’re willing to bring you into their close circle. This can help expand your network and open up opportunities you may not have had otherwise. One of my mentors, Meg Prater – a Senior Manager of Content at HubSpot – has connected me to a number of people when I’ve been looking for job recommendations or new business clients.

As in all relationships, mentorship isn’t one-sided. Mentors also look for mentees with strong networks to expand their professional connections. So put time into developing your relationships and growing your network. You never know who may be of interest to a mentor.

9. Ability to Devote Time to Mentorship

Many people have the traits to be good mentors but can’t devote the time it demands. A mentor-mentee relationship takes effort from both sides. Without dedication, it won’t work.

A good mentor should be willing to hop on a call, send a thoughtful email, or meet up for coffee. If they’re not, the relationships can quickly fizzle. Of course, there’s plenty of legwork the mentee has to do to keep the relationships strong. But the mentor must be able to offer support in exchange for the mentee’s efforts.

That said, there’s no predetermined amount of time for good mentorship. It depends on the people involved and the nature of the relationship. You might talk to a mentor once a quarter or meet up once a month for lunch. Some of your mentors may only be around for a short time, while others may be around for life. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your mentor to decide the cadence that works best.

Once you do find someone with these mentor traits who inspires you, work on developing a relationship with them, rather than asking them to be your mentor right away. In time, you won’t feel the pressure of asking them to be your mentor – you’ll simply be getting guidance from a friend.

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ActionIQ rebrands and launches CX Hub

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ActionIQ rebrands and launches CX Hub


Enterprise customer data platform ActionIQ has announced the launch of a new product, CX Hub. The company has also rebranded as AIQ. The CX Hub is designed as a set of modules offering self-service access to customer data, allowing users to build audiences and orchestrate experiences at scale.

After eight years of growth as a CDP serving B2C, media and other sectors, the changes represent a “new approach to our product and brand,” said CEO and co-founder Tasso Argyros in a release. The modular framework will ingest data from any source, integrate with any activation channel, and also allow components to be used with a third-party CDP.

The modules. CX Hub is comprised of four solutions:

  • Customer data platform.
  • Audience center.
  • Journey management.
  • Real-time CX.

The Hub is also designed to be accessible to business users with a friendly UI and extensive automation capabilities.


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Why we care. This is a significant development in the CDP space — a space that has been transforming rapidly, with many of the early established CDPs being acquired and ingested by more extensive suites such as digital experience platforms.

ActionIQ, one of the leading B2C CDPs, is now describing itself as “the leading CX solution.” It seems to be future-proofing itself by extending its capabilities across orchestration and execution channels, not by acquiring or building those solutions, but by seeking to provide modular integration between its (or a third-party’s) customer data management tool and orchestration and execution channels.

Sometimes we wonder how many independent, traditional CDPs will be left standing a year from now.

Read next: Deep changes in the CDP space


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update


Old Navy will update its yearly Fourth of July promotions by saluting the metaverse with an NFT drop, going live June 29.

In honor of the year they were founded, the retailer will release 1,994 common NFTs, each selling for $0.94. The NFTs will feature the iconic Magic the Dog and t include a promo code for customers to claim an Old Navy t-shirt at Old Navy locations or online.

“This launch is Old Navy’s first activation in web3 or with NFTs,” an Old Navy spokesperson told MarTech. “As a brand rooted in democratization and inclusivity, it was essential that we provide access and education for all with the launch of our first NFT collection. We want all our customers, whether they have experience with web3, to be able to learn and participate in this activation.”

Accessible and user-friendly. Any customer can participate by visiting a page off of Old Navy’s home site, where they’ll find step-by-step instructions.

There will also be an auction for a unique one-of-one NFT. All proceeds for the NFT and shirt sales go to Old Navy’s longtime charitable partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Additionally, 10% of NFT resales on the secondary market will also go to Boys & Girls Clubs.

Support. This activation is supported by Sweet, who’s played a major role in campaigns for other early NFT adopters like Burger King.

The Old Navy NFTs will be minted on the Tezos blockchain, known for its low carbon footprint.

“This is Old Navy’s first time playing in the web3 space, and we are using the launch of our first NFT collection to test and learn,” said Old Navy’s spokesperson. “We’re excited to enable our customers with a new way to engage with our iconic brand and hero offerings and look forward to exploring additional consumer activations in web3 in the future.”

Read next: 4 key strategies for NFT brand launches

Why we care. Macy’s also announced an NFT promotion timed to their fireworks show. This one will award one of 10,000 NFTs to those who join their Discord server.

Old Navy, in contrast, is keeping customers closer to their owned channels, and not funneling customers to Discord. Old Navy consumers who don’t have an NFT wallet can sign up through Sweet to purchase and bid on NFTs.

While Macy’s has done previous web3 promotions, this is Old Navy’s first. They’ve aligned a charity partner, brand tradition and concern for the environment with a solid first crack at crypto.


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your work? Take our poll

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Are you still using spreadsheets to manage your work? Take our poll


Earlier this year, revenue orchestration platform LeanData released a report suggesting that lead management remains a “heavily manual” process. Based on a survey of more than 1,700 sales, marketing and operations professionals, the results showed that, despite all the talk of digital transformation, the number two challenge for revenue teams was too many manual processes and not enough automation (the number one challenge was insufficient pipeline).

LeanData, which partnered with Sales Hacker, Outreach and Heinz Marketing in conducting the survey, is interested in that result, of course, because lead management is precisely the process they offer to automate. We were struck by the contrast with Scott Brinker’s recent statement that we are arriving at a post-digital-transformation era: “(C)ompanies are no longer planning to become ‘digital.’ They are digital.”

And then we got the results of our 2022 MarTech Career and Salary Survey. Among the surprising nuggets to be mined from our findings was that 77% of respondents identify spreadsheets as the tool they spend most time (10 or more hours a week) working with. That doesn’t mean that spreadsheets are a marketer’s most important tool, but it does suggest that manual processes remain a key part of daily life for marketing managers and staff.

We wanted to extend the opportunity to all our readers — B2B, B2C, agencies — to give us a reality check on spreadsheet use. MarTech is marketing, we like to say, and certainly today’s marketing is fundamentally data-driven and digital. But is it too soon to say that marketers are working in a digital and largely automated environment?

Download the 2022 MarTech Career and Salary Survey here


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About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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