Points of Light: Mentors that went above and beyond in 2015

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It is near impossible to adequately thank all of the mentors in the MicroMentor community. In 2015, over 1,300 mentors gave 15,000 hours of their time to entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses. There are also so many ways to describe what makes a mentor great – what the mentor means to the entrepreneur, how the entrepreneur succeeds with the mentor’s support, that special mix of character traits makes knowledge accessible and actionable… Suffice to say, a ranking can never truly say that one mentor is better than another.

Still, we took a closer look at some of the mentors who made an outstanding contribution.  Here are a few highlights among the many, many mentors that have made a difference for entrepreneurs on MicroMentor.

Bill OraboneBill Orabone, California

Has helped: more than 60 entrepreneurs on MicroMentor over the past 4 years by sharing his own experience of starting and selling many successful companies.

Why I mentor: I mentor to learn and grow and I can impact many companies’ success rather than only my own.

Mentoring style: Bill likes serious entrepreneurs who are willing to do what it takes to make their business succeed. He says that he will “poke holes” in their plans and challenge them to become better entrepreneurs.

Notable mentee: Nanette developed Happy Tummi, a natural solution for colic relief for infants and their parents. With Bill’s help, Nanette was able to distribute her product to over 800 Wal-mart stores across America. She says,  “One of the things I loved about Bill was that he had nothing invested other than wanting to see my business succeed. That was comforting because I knew I could trust the advice he was giving me. He had nothing to lose. Because of what he’d done and accomplished and created in his own career, I really felt like he was going to guide me in the right way.”

Alessandro DalianaAlessandro Daliana, New York

Has helped: over 50 entrepreneurs on MM in the last 2 years by sharing with them a simple to understand model of how businesses work to reduce the customer’s struggle with a specific uncertainty.

Why I mentor: To bring clarity of purpose to the entrepreneur and their business.

Mentoring style: Alessandro sets the bar high before he even meets the mentee by stating his expectations right in his MM profile. Through his clear and simple property-based method he teaches the them how to think about their business so the mentee can to do the work and become more successful.

Notable mentee win: There are two wins for Alessandro. The first is at the end of the first session when the mentee tells him he has given them a lot to think about. The second is at the third and last one hour session when the mentee expresses their gratitude for all they have learned and can now execute a plan.

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Jon Toorock, Oregon

Has helped: more than 40 entrepreneurs on MicroMentor over the past 2 years by sharing experiences running technology companies since the dot.com era.

Why I mentor: Giving back is an important aspect of life. Helping people achieve their goals and dreams propels them to reach a point where they can potentially assist others. If those who can are able to give of themselves we all will be better humans for it.

Mentoring style: I strive to understand where people are coming from with their business and where they want to go with it. Generally, each person and situation is unique, but there are usually also overlapping elements one can draw from based on experience. Giving “tough love” when needed is often part of the process. The first thing I look for is a website for the business. This is in part due to my online background, but mainly because of what a website can do for an organization.

Notable mentee win: Chigozie is launching Zeesaa, an ambitious ecommerce effort. After we overhauled and polished his business plan, as well as discussed setting up an advisory committee, the topic quickly turned to how to use these as platforms for success. Subsequently, it only took a scant week for Zeesaa to secure excellent office space and multiple laptops, which were all donated by an in-kind investor who believes in Zeesaa’s future!

Anthony Tranchida, Florida

Has helped: more than 20 entrepreneurs in the last year by sharing own experience as a serial entrepreneur.

Why I mentor: People are told they won’t succeed. I get joy out of knowing that I helped someone achieve what they were capable of achieving all along. They just needed a push.

Mentoring style: Although in the past, Anthony has been told his mentoring style can come across as “negative,” he has found the most effective way to mentor is to play devil’s advocate from the start. Anthony has found that challenging someones business ideas in a way their friends and families won’t, forces them to really dig deep and work though every aspect of the business.

Notable mentee win: In 2014, Aimee Beck founded Beck SEO Copywriting, a digital marketing firm providing organic SEO (search engine optimization) and copywriting services to help clients achieve top search engine positions, higher click-through rates and better conversions. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Aimee spent some time in the corporate world before quickly realizing her true passion as a small-business owner. But the boomerang transitions posed a series of unforeseen challenges. With Anthony’s help, Aimee was able to brainstorm new ideas and peel back the layers of her business goals to reveal untapped opportunities that have propelled Beck SEO Copywriting to its highest ever level of success. Says, Aimee, “Anthony was amazing—always quick to respond and eager to help in any way possible. I feel very fortunate to have him in my corner.”

Brian VentBrian Vent, New Jersey

Has helped: more than 20 entrepreneurs in the last year by sharing decades of experience in the retail and restaurant business.

Mentoring style: My approach with people I coach typically centers around helping them get clear about three things:
*The future they envision for their work and themselves;
*The goals that would indicate they’re on their way to realizing that future
*The operational plan to realizing that future

Why I mentor: I mentor entrepreneurs as an act of service (though I find that I often get as much as I give working with such talented and committed men and women). I work primarily with nonprofit and social enterprise leaders helping them increase the impact they and their organizations have in the communities they serve. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much in my career, from mentors and experience, and feel fortunate to be able to be a resource for entrepreneurs doing good work around the world.

Notable wins: I think it’s a big win any time someone achieves goals for themselves or their team that they’d not thought was possible beforehand. His mentee Jacqueline owns a school for under-privileged girls in Cameroon. She tells us “Brian Vent has been the shoulder i needed to lean on to be strong again. His support helped me rediscover myself and gave a new direction to my business.”

Angelo SpandrioAngelo Spandrio, California

Has helped: more than 15 entrepreneurs in the last year by sharing decades of experience in the engineering and manufacturing industry.

Why I mentor: I love to help people succeed

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Brian Caudill, Florida

Has helped: more than 10 entrepreneurs in the last 6 months by sharing own experience owning a small business for 14 years.

Why I mentor: Assist others in pursuing, meeting, and accomplishing their personal and business goals through being actively engaged in mentoring, coaching, entrepreneurship and lifelong learning.

Mentoring style: My background is in training so I like to listen and learn about what issues entrepreneurs are having and then provide them the resources (books, websites, other professionals, etc.) to solve any issues they are experiencing. I also teach them to think critically about their business by asking thought provoking questions. I will always ask WHY.

Dale TurnerDale Turner

Has helped: more than 10 entrepreneurs in the last 6 months by sharing own deep experience in the hospitality industry.

Why I mentor: Mentoring is an honor and a privilege. I learned a long time ago that one does not select others to mentor, but others select you. My business career is punctuated with mentors and business coaches who helped me find my way. It’s my pleasure now to give back, and help others who might choose me to offer them a little help chalking their path forward.

Mentoring Style: Colleagues and others I’ve worked with have described me as an analytical thinker, a problem solver and a collaborative communicator. I’d say that describes my style as a mentor.

Notable Mentee Win: Providing ongoing consultations to a home healthcare CEO with a clinical background to become a better business-minded leader and work a strategic plan to grow her business.

john-bJohn M. Birchbauer, Wisconsin

Has helped: 6 entrepreneurs in the last 6 months by sharing own experience consulting and managing other business consultants.

Why I mentor: Mentoring gives me a great opportunity to work with entrepreneurs in both their personal and professional growth by sharing knowledge I have learned through my years of experience. Yet the primary goal is to challenge the entrepreneur to open their minds to think in new and different ways. My goal when I mentor is to work with their needs and answer questions, but also to make sure they are prepared to move forward and that they have a solid footprint or plan. My personal gain comes in seeing the entrepreneur develop. But I also enjoy working with entrepreneurs because I believe everyday is an opportunity to learn. And through my working as a mentor I have learned from the people I have worked with. It is a great opportunity and I would invite more people to get involved, because it is a truly rewarding experience.

Mentoring style:
John enjoys working with entrepreneurs to explore why their idea or product is better or seperates them from the competition. In addition works with each entrepreneur at their pace, but will take time to cover basics from business plans, potential speed bumps along the way, explore all opportunities but willing to deal sometimes with the harsh realities of business. I always practice I was given two ears and one mouth, so it is important for me to listen more than I speak. The more I listen to my mentees, the more I can help them.