Mentors 14/18: Accept and Communicate With Other Mentors That Get Involved

Two mentors in one of the Techstars programs were both people who I knew well. They hated each other as a result of being co-founders of companies that had been bitter rivals.

Each company was successful, but their paths ended up being very different. These two co-founders hadn’t interacted with each other, but the CEOs of each of their companies had some rough interactions. As a result, each of these co-founders thought the other was an evil person.

Each of the co-founders was technical, extremely smart, and capable. Not surprisingly, they gravitated toward mentoring the same companies.

After a few very awkward moments, I encouraged the two co-founders to let their pasts be history and to move on. I knew them each pretty well and expected they’d like each other and get along if they had an opportunity to reset things. Being mentors to the same company gave them this opportunity.

It turned out that they loved working together. At some point, the co-founders talked about their past. They had never actually met, and each realized that their emotions were a function of the hostile relationship between the CEOs. Since they were channeling these emotions, they realized this was a self-limiting perspective.

They became friends. In a few cases, they’ve been mentors for the same company. It’s been a great example of moving beyond whatever your past is and accepting each other as a mentor in a new shared context.


Also published on Medium.

  • This really points to the attitude of Techstars. We saw a similar thing happen with our mentors in the Detroit mobility program. Kudos to the Techstars crew for being able to replicate their culture across many accelerators.

  • Ian Hathaway

    Much broader life lesson here

  • Biases can really mess things up….nice ending.

  • What a great story! In the end, it’s really about open communication lines that allow for misunderstandings to come to light.

    I suppose that’s why it’s important to have diplomats to intervene! I wish people in our political landscape would also follow this advice.