My good friend Jo Burston asked me a question during a panel discussion for Inspiring Rare Birds last week. We were talking about mentoring as a competitive advantage to entrepreneurs.

“What is the best advice you’ve received from your mentors?”

I responded with two thoughts which are always in the back of my mind and were handed down to me by my mentors.

1. If they’re not laughing at you, you’re working on the wrong stuff.

The language used to describe the intent of this advice has morphed over time but the core idea is to accept that as entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) we see opportunity where other’s do not. Some ideas will be genuinely contrarian, while others will seem inspired or just plain strange.

This advice is a constant reminder that it’s OK to operate outside the bounds of established conventions and seek to create value in ways that create habits that change people’s lives for the better. You don’t have to look far in history to find the once fringe dwellers who at some point inspired change in the world.

2. This, Too, Shall Pass

This holds true no matter the situation. Difficult times ultimately don’t last forever and the same is true for purple patches. For me, this advice serves as a reminder to remain self-aware. Armed with the knowledge that this, too, shall pass adds context to situations that might ordinarily trigger a fight or flight response (tough times) or blind optimism (purple patches).

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I expect all entrepreneurs to have mentors. Those who don’t are operating at a disadvantage because whether you believe it or not, it is close to impossible to grow a company or build a movement without them.

I also really enjoyed the advice that Jo shared. Jo’s mentor taught her to religiously ask each day “what were yesterday’s sales and how much cash is in the bank?”

What’s the best advice you’ve received for your mentor?

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Also published on Medium.