Rediscovering the Lost Art of Being a Great Mentor

Chris Hanks, far right, with students from the Kennesaw State University Entrepreneurship Center.


“I can’t thank Chris enough for opening my eyes to becoming an entrepreneur,” the student said. Professor Chris Hanks, Kennesaw State University, had just asked students to come to the front of the room and share their story.

He knew they were nervous to share in front of this group of accomplished business people, but he told his students, “We choose courage over comfort. In this way, we become better versions of ourselves. So come on up here!”

This was a fundraiser for the Kennesaw State University Entrepreneurship Center hosted by their executive advisory council. The event was attended by men and women entrepreneurs in all types of businesses and representing a wide range of industries. The common thread was their love for entrepreneuring and for Chris.

Chris pointed to a shy young lady we found out later is a scholarship athlete on the tennis team. She is from Brazil. She stood and thanked us all for being there. Then she passionately and enthusiastically told us how Chris impacted her life by introducing her to entrepreneuring.

Then he asked, “Are there any other students who would like to share their story? At that, one student went to the front of the room. Then two. Then four. Soon there a was long line of students patiently waiting to tell their story about the class and their professor. I was overwhelmed by the love and excitement I felt in the room.

I met Chris through Sig Mosely, the godfather of Angel Investing in Atlanta. At the time, Chris was teaching the entrepreneurship class at the University of Georgia. On Sig’s recommendation, Chris asked me to speak to his class.

When I met Chris, I immediately fell in love with him. Now here I was in a room full of business people and students, and they felt the same way. Here are my observations on Chris’ secrets of mentoring.

Believe in the Potential of Others

Chris believes in your potential as soon as he meets you. From the moment we met, I knew he trusted me. No poking around with questions to find out what I had accomplished or who I knew. He just accepted me and told me how much he was looking forward to what I had to share with his class.

After my talk, once he learned a bit more about me, he began making connections. Connections to his class, his network and his vision. Chris wanted to explore how we could serve the entrepreneurial community together.

Ask Them to Verbalize Their Dream

Chris knows you have a dream and makes you verbalize it. I’ve not seen this in any other person. Right from the start, he says, “Tell me your dream.”

He makes you say it out loud. The effect of sharing your dream with another human being is powerful, and he knows it. Once you share your dream, you realize, “Chris is here for me. He is interested. He cares.”

Invest in Making Their Dream a Reality

Chris wants to help you make your dream a reality. This last piece makes him different, special. He wants to jump in and serve you. You may find people who believe in you and encourage you to live your dream, but do you know people who will help you achieve it?

His process for his class is brilliant. He provides both content and his network while surrounding students with the power of like-minded individuals. They believe in each other and help each other because they are people who understand their dreams.

This is why all those students went to the front of the room. This is why KSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship will succeed. I support it because of Chris.

 

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