Make Your Mentors

Something that I learned working for myself that also made my full time jobs better: create your co-workers and make your mentors. Curate you who want to hang out with, support, and learn from. Work isn't a solitary exercise. Having people to "co" with makes everything better.

I've been working for myself for 5 years. At first, I was terribly lonely. Here's how I created co-folks:
(btw, I've also done this at FT jobs and it works - you can apply this all to actual co-workers or folks outside your org...ideally both to keep you sane)

Schedule weekly 1:1s

Ask a few colleagues you think are cool to have weekly 1:1s with you. Sometimes these are short hellos. Sometimes more. It felt like a weird ask at first, but I've been having these 1:1s with friends for years. We talk work, life, dreams, frustrations, all of it.

Form a mastermind

If you're feeling super ambitious, form or join a mastermind group with other superheroes like you. Make sure this group has people who you can not just *learn* from, but also *teach.* You'll grow most when you do both. Even super busy people are keen to join a mastermind when they get value out of it. So reach out to people you admire! They just might say yes.

A note for introverts

If you're an introvert, like me, make sure you also build in blocks of quiet/alone time into your schedule to even things all of this socializing and co-ing with people. You're not a social butterfly, I know.

Conferences

Attend or speak at conferences. This is where I connect with and make new friends—many of whom become mentors. I'm too shy to befriend strangers, so when I attend (these days I’m more likely to speak than attend) I ask friends if they or anyone they know will be in attendance. I then meet that person and hang out with them. Lots. I've made many new friends this way.

Another note for introverts

If you're an introvert, don't overdo conferences. Limit how many you attend (everyone's threshold is different— find yours). And guard your on-site alone time/energy. Every hotel TV in the US (France, too, but it’s overdubbed) has Law and Order on between 8-10pm. That's where you'll find me at the end of the day.

Make a mentor

Have you asked someone to mentor you? Stop. People are busy. Or they're afraid of damaging you. Instead, find someone you admire. Be of service. Be curious. Be awesome. Be you. Give and you shall receive. And maybe make a new friend. I promise. It works.

Years ago, I asked someone I admired to mentor me. Her answer: I'm busy. I was devastated. Years later, we reconnected. I had since made many mentors. So...I helped her. Asked questions. Made drinks/meals happen. She's now a mentor. She knows it because I thank her. Often.