Mentoring and The Deep Dive.


I am a mentor in a program called Elevate. It’s a wonderful group of men and women who donate time and experience to help startup entrepreneurs in the Asheville, NC area. Supported by Venture Asheville, an economic development coalition of Buncombe Country and the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, it uses a mentorship framework developed by MIT.

One thing the brand planner in me is finding difficult is completing the discovery process I use in my day job. That job is to define brand strategy which guides product, product experience and messaging. Getting to that strategy requires a deep dive into business metrics, customer care-abouts and brand good-ats, which when culled and refined make all tactical decisions easy — from hiring to web design to product extensions and more.

But as a mentor, I’ve found instances where we only talk tactics. The deep dive discovery I’m used to is not part of the rigor. Flying by an instrument panel, if you will, rather than eyes open with the landscape before me.

With brand discovery typically requiring 75-150 hours to wrap my head around the business, its problems, challenges, and opportunities (which isn’t practical) I sometimes feel the need to scratch my head. 

So what do I do? Well, I try to innovate. To short cut. I asterisk my recommendations. But most of all I sponge up as much as I can and rely on fellow team members. It’s a different approach. And different is good. It sharpens skills.