Mentoring students at the Arab Innovation Academy was probably one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve had in a long time. Guiding exceptionally motivated students through the process of designing, validating and launching a product was incredible. The very act of teaching them helped me learn new things, and relearn things I’d forgotten.
There were a few things that really stood out:
Critically analyze your self and your team. Identify key skill gaps, figure out what you can improve and what you need to bridge. Most of us don’t do enough active self-improvement. Experience is great, but remember to take a breath, slow down and do some studying. We’re not perfect and we need to grow, something even Siew Choo SOH the Managing Director of DBS believes!
You can’t do it alone. Accept the fact that you’re going to need help from someone that already knows the ropes. Invest time in finding mentors, some experienced hands that can guide you in specific areas. Get a few, because no one mentor can provide you guidance across all aspects of your business.
Encourage diversity of thought. Work with people that have different backgrounds, different skills and different views. Ensure they are comfortable speaking their minds. Be confident, but remember that Group Think is an easy trap to fall into, and can be deadly.
There’s a lot of value to simplicity. It isn’t easy to achieve simplicity, be prepared to work hard at keeping everything simple. Whatever anybody tells you, nothing is ever as complicated as it seems. Find a way to articulate your solution as if you’re talking to a 5 year old. If you can’t explain it to a 5 year old, you probably don’t really understand it.
Over the 10 days I spent in Qatar, it was brilliant to see the students rise to overcome the various academic challenges and grow personally as they quickly learnt real-world skills. They presented lots of very challenging questions and scenarios, which thoroughly tested me as a mentor. Ultimately those unexpectedly tough questions are really what helped me realize that it was a two way street. That mentoring was just as educational for me as it was for them. Combined with the process of academic review with the other mentors, it was mentally recharging. A reminder of how important structured learning & analysis is at every age.
Enough about me, watch the video below to see what the students felt they learnt from the process. There’s a surprisingly strong pattern in their feedback!