Mentors, Partnerships Make for Good Business

July 21, 2015

Photo: Chris Scott - Focus Scout

Very seldom do individuals succeed entirely on their own.

Alexander the Great had his mentor Aristotle.

Mahatma Gandhi found inspiration in Gopal Krishna Gokhale.  

Charles Stewart Rolls partnered with Sir Frederick Henry Royce.

Stevie Nicks had the rest of Fleetwood Mac.

You get the picture.

No matter your goal as an individual — whether you are trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's, run for president or be the first human on Mars — it is important to find others to aid and accompany you in your journey.

One of the most vital pieces to the puzzle of success is finding an influential mentor — or, even better, mentors. Selecting guides is often a task with no set instructions, but in my experience, there are some general rules to follow: 

  • Find someone who has experience living out the reality that you are dreaming of.
  • Seek counsel from those who enjoy teaching and are glad to share their wealth of knowledge.
  • Don't force yourself into the life of a prospective mentor. Often, a wise tutor will find you first.
  • Many mentors can provide you with inspiration through day-to-day interactions and discussions, rather than by establishing a formal relationship.

However, it is important to let someone know if they are inspiring you. Positive influence often goes unnoticed by the person providing inspiration, and gratitude for it will lead to more valuable relationships and resources. 

Your primary mentors may change as time passes and your interests and experiences develop, but it is important to maintain those relationships. I have been mentored, and I also have mentored others. Many of my mentors may not have known how much of an impact they had on me, but their interests, lifestyles and personalities will influence me for years to come.

Another essential asset to reaching your goals is partnership.

Recently, I was lucky enough to collaborate with a young woman in the film industry for a project at Aztera, the Tucson-based technology development company where I am interning this summer.

Film and videography is something that has always interested me, and I learned a great deal about the producing, directing and editing processes that are required to create a professional video. I helped write the script for the video, which was an instructional video for Instant BioScan (one of our partner companies) on how to use their product. The experience started a new relationship between a quality videographer and Aztera, leading to discussions of future work to benefit both parties.

Partnering with other companies can provide a startup with access to necessary resources and knowledge in order to move a venture forward. Forming a partnership is usually a win-win situation.

For instance, Intel can sponsor a startup with the necessary software and electronics to develop a proposed product, as long as the startup agrees to use Intel's technology inside its product for an agreed-upon number of years. The materials and resources benefit the startup in this situation, while Intel gets to put its signature on a new innovation and promising company, extending its web of influence.

In general, partnerships lead to deeper development of ideas. Different personalities working side by side leads to fostering levels of complexity and creativity while generating and expanding upon ideas.

Collaboration is even more beneficial when it's interdisciplinary.

Rather than encouraging two employees in the marketing department to partner on a project, a company should partner a marketing specialist with an engineer. This leads to cross-disciplinary productivity. The marketing professional learns firsthand details on the product or service that is being marketed, leading to more effective communication to customers. The engineer gains insight into the customer, which may lead to influenced decisions during product development down the road.

In general, it is a good idea to seek out interaction with other humans (being lonely is boring).

Connections are important in the world of business. Young entrepreneurs need mentors to guide them toward a promising future, and seasoned executives seek partners to further strengthen existing foundations. Think of who inspires you in your day-to-day life, or who might feed off of your actions for inspiration, and explore a simple relationship with them. It just might lead to a successful partnership, inside the vocational environment or outside of it.

Andrew Granatstein, an Honors College student studying aerospace engineering who is also a student in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, is one of four students selected as a 2015 UANews student columnist. The columnist initiative was launched in June by UANews and provides students the opportunity to share insights about the work and research they will be doing over the summer in various parts of the United States and abroad. It's the UA's 100% Engagement in action, and the students' experiences will prepare them to be real-world ready upon graduation.