July 15, 2021
My interest in growth hacking started in 2015. I read all the case studies, forums and followed growth influencers on Twitter. One thing was missing from this equation – practical experience. My current workplace was very far from letting me do anything even similar to growth hacking, so I had to either start a project or find people who I could learn this from. I never thought I’d become a Growth Mentor one day!
After a failed project, I decided to try meeting likely minded people who were also interested in growth hacking. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Adam Wesołowski, who was already much more experienced in the field than I was. Having sat down and talked about our passion for growth hacking, we decided to start a series of meetups in order to share our knowledge and at the same time meeting other people who shared our interest.
The first event took place in January 2017. With a room full of people, we gave our presentations and later sunk into networking and meeting amazing individuals. This was incredible, talking about other people’s projects, learning about their challenges, giving advice on how to overcome obstacles.
After several meetups, we founded Growth Engine which later was acquired by Ladder.
Working in an agency is one of the most demanding and dynamic environments a marketer can wish for. There is never a lack of issues to work on or people to learn from. Most companies have fewer people in their growth team and therefore less space for knowledge sharing. That’s why I can imagine a lot of people looking for outside spaces or platforms to connect with other experts similar to them.
There are lots of meetups about the startup and growth space, but mostly in startup hubs like London, San Francisco, New York, Berlin or Barcelona. This leaves a lot of people that want to experience that but have no way to access it on a regular basis. There are webinars but you know how they look like – “here is a problem, we solved it, now buy our product or service”.
There are more and more conferences going online and that’s awesome.
One thing that’s missing from this whole equation is a more individual approach. A possibility of accessing a mentor.
The mentorship concept has been proven to work online. For example the success of Masterclass shows that learning online about very specific topics from practitioners is in very high demand.
What about a more specific topic than cooking, filmmaking, writing, design or science? A community where you can learn about items that are dear to you and do it remotely?
There is one. It’s called Growth Mentor and I was lucky enough that some of my colleagues from Ladder recommended it to me.
The community is built by mentors and mentees. In order to become a mentor, you must go through a manual process where the founders check your application. If you look good on paper, then they invite you for a one to one interview to learn more about you.
My interview was with Foti, the CEO and founder of Growth Mentor. I was pretty nervous about it because I wanted to get in and become one of the mentors in their community.
The fact that I was referred to the platform and am a part of Ladder helped a lot, as Foti knows Ladder well. So after several questions, I was accepted to become a growth mentor! What a relief! The interview was really fun because Foti is just a fantastic guy who knows the nuts and bolts of growth, as he’s been working on it for years at other companies. We immediately found common ground and even started thinking about a collaboration between Ladder and Growth Mentor. There are several mentors on the platform that are or were Ladder employees.
On top of that Growth Mentor was kind enough to mention us on their blog or in some other places where they talk about growth – like guest posts or podcasts.Which is a big feat given that 97% of applications are rejected.
I was able to add “growth mentor” to my LinkedIn profile and joined the community on Slack, as well as getting a profile on their platform.
You can only start charging for your mentorship after getting 3 positive reviews. This is an awesome barrier that prevents the platform from flooding with people who are just looking to make a quick buck. As a matter of fact, a lot of people never charge money for their mentorship anyway. I don’t.
My very first session was with another mentor. That’s the beauty of it, as a mentor I can also access other mentors to ask them for advice. This gets more mentors to get to know one another and exchange ideas.
Tim was curious about my experience with founding and growing an agency, as he was interested in leaving his job to do something similar.
One of the next mentees that booked a session with me was asking about scaling a business from the process, sales and hiring perspectives. He is building a company specializing in lead generation services and is still a solo founder. I started by explaining the agility of hiring freelancers and testing fast to see if it works was the key on this one. With a small company making long term commitments such as hiring the first full-time employee is a big move. On top of that, the first hire is a huge decision to be made and therefore takes plenty of time from the founder. That’s why I suggested to start using freelancers and avoid the big commitment in terms of time and money.
If you’re building a company from the ground up, start using freelancers and avoid the big commitment in terms of time and money that a first hire brings.
#entrepreneurship #bestpractices #growthmentality
Building a company from the ground up also means that there needs to be documentation that the freelancers or future employees can use in order to ensure the service quality. Only then will the endeavor become scalable enough for him to be able to sell more and service more clients without the need to micromanage every single task.
When you’re building a company from the ground up, create documentation that the freelancers or future employees can use to ensure the service quality.
#entrepreneurship #bestpractices #growthmentality
Yet another person reached out to me asking about the growth strategy of the company where they work and also their career path. The only channel that they have been using has been cold mailing which has been steadily declining and was not scalable. Testing other channels was a big issue as the management did not perceive it as time- and money-worthy. My suggestion was to start very small with the testing and start building the trust and confidence of management with small wins. Later as the wins compound, start suggesting bigger and bigger tests in order to gradually move forward and start finding new opportunities for growth among new and existing channels.
If your management isn’t keen on testing other channels, start very small with testing and building their trust and confidence with small wins.
The other part of this session was the question of whether she should stay at such a company or start looking elsewhere for new opportunities because she isn’t growing anymore. Having hired and onboarded tens of people at Ladder, the opportunity for growth is one of the biggest factors that drove people here. Being a part of a bigger company that has offices across three countries and services multinational companies was one of the reasons they chose to work here.
Now, if there is no opportunity to grow or there are roadblocks at every turn, employees get demotivated and eventually start to think about leaving. What I’ve learned from hiring here is that the best talent has to be constantly stimulated to grow in order to avoid thinking about looking for new opportunities.
The best talent has to be constantly stimulated to grow in order to avoid thinking about looking for new opportunities.
This all lead to me asking the one important question to the mentee – do you see yourself grow in your current job? The answer was no, and therefore the decision was made. As she is a high achiever, I knew that she needs to be stimulated further and have a direction to grow.
I’ve done 24 sessions until now, for every one of them I asked the mentees to prepare an agenda and give me insight into what topics they want to discuss so that I can prepare and avoid asking questions I can learn the answers to earlier. I still have no problem with the fact that I’m giving my time away without charging for it. Getting to know those mentees, their experiences, and their motivations is a payment in itself.
I am happy to brag that my rating is at the perfect 5.0. Yes, each mentee is able to review the mentor and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 plus add a comment.
There are more people from Ladder on Growth Mentor.
I initially signed up for GrowthMentor thinking it would be a good way to get clients for Ladder — a lot of our client base came from coffee meetings in New York and London where I’d spent 30 mins helping a founder or marketer with their growth strategy. While I have landed a few deals from people I met on Growth Mentor, after 100 sessions on the platform I realize it’s something different. It’s a community of people who are actively and earnestly trying to grow companies. Every session the mentees turn up ready to learn, and that gives me a lot of inspiration and energy I take with me into tackling my own growth challenges. I learn as much as I teach, and having access to the other mentors in the Growth Mentor community has been invaluable as I build my new company. Getting into the habit of helping others and asking for help yourself is like rocket fuel for your career, and that’s what being a part of the Growth Mentor community does for you.
Mike Taylor, founder and ex-COO of Ladder
Mike has been one of the most active mentors on Growth Mentor. You can check out his profile.
Having spoken to mentees, founders Foti and Jessica, as well as other mentors, I can honestly say that the biggest trend within this community is kindness. People are very kind to each other, share their insights, knowledge, and passion with one another.
The openness is great. When I need something I can switch to my mentee profile (each mentor has that!). Then, ask other mentors for help on an item that I have on my plate and need help with. I have always received help with the issues I submitted.
Whenever I didn’t know how to do something on the platform, I just reached out to the Growth Mentor team and they quickly aided me with the issue at hand.
There are over 200 mentors on the platform today. You can search for what sort of a mentor you need by filters like skills, session length availability, price, industry, language, company or others.
The Slack community is great, too. Lots of people sharing useful content, information, helping each other out with the challenges they face. This is a great space for likely minded people to find others who want to geek out on tracking plans, product data analysis, or even find the right person to help with a particular service.
I just hired a product manager (also happens to be a growth mentor) a couple of days ago. I have too many ideas in the roadmap, and she will help me with prioritization and talking to users. I’ll be in a much better position to answer that question by the end of next week. This week I dumped on her around 10 tons of data, qualitative and quantitative, for her to review to get the feeling of where we’re at.
But if you want to get a general idea, here’s our public roadmap (not set in stone obviously).
In a nutshell – we’re going to be focusing on the community. There are so many awesome mentees on the platform that the mentors often learn from, too. I think that if we make it possible for mentees to book calls with other mentees, it’ll be awesome. We’ll see, though – that’s probably Q2 2021 status. All still highly conceptual.”
Foti Panagiotakopoulos, CEO and Founder of Growth Mentor
The Growth Mentor team is not just selling the growth mentality on their platform. They also live it. Their roadmap is constantly evolving because of how user-centric they strive to be. In order to make the platform truly for the mentors and mentees, they adjust the roadmap. How it looks now is very likely to change because of the iterative process they are using.
Following the user-centric approach, they want to empower the mentors and mentees more. By listening to their needs and comments, they are able to put together the best ideas to life.
Speaking from experience, this is the best way to go about it. The alternative is somewhere between that and just building the product based on a vision and not following any feedback. The less feedback you use, the higher the probability of failure.
The less feedback you use, the higher the probability of failure.
#entrepreneurship #growthmentality #communication
If after reading all this you’d like to become a member of this amazing growth community, then feel free to either apply to become a mentor or sign up to become a mentee. I hope to see you on the platform soon!
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