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What is most valuable for personal development: Being a mentor or being a mentee?

My answer is: to be a “mentoree”.

A “mentoree-session” is when you first mentor someone for one session and then you switch places and let the person who just was the mentee become the mentor and you become the mentee.

Today I had the privilege to sit on my island in Sweden and spend some time with Gil Petersil and his wife Ekaterina Petersil who stayed with us for a couple of days.

Gil is perhaps the most resourceful speaker I know. He his a great speaker, but also a great business person who, together with Ekaterina runs a series of different companies.

So today I sat down with Gil for one hour to help him refine his inner theme as a speaker.

After lunch we literally switched seats and he became my mentor to help me with some business development of my speaking business.

That way I get the best of both worlds.

By being a mentor I got to think about the topic I am an expert on which helps me reflect on it on a deeper level. (“the best way to learn is to teach”.)

Being a mentee I get to learn from someone who is more experienced than myself in some areas and who has a different perspective on speaking.

Here are some suggestions on how to do a successful “mentoree-session”.

a) Pick someone who is different than yourself.

For a Mentoree-session to work best you both need to have something to teach and something to learn from each other,

Gil and I are very different speaking styles, personalities and strengths and that makes it very effective to be “mentorees” to each other.

So try to find a speaker that is different from you where your strengths and weaknesses are different and invite that speaker to a mutually beneficial meeting.

b) Find an “equal”.

The best mentoree-sessions are when two speakers meet who look at themselves as peers. Where both feel they are (on some way) at the same level as speakers, even if they might be different in many other ways.

c) Be humble, yet confident.

Understand that the other person will be able to give you insights about yourself that you just can not find yourself, and at the same time have the confidence to tell the other speaker what he/she should be doing/changing

d) There is a time and place for everything.

A mentoree-session is not a “conversation between peers”. When you are the mentee be the mentee, when you are the mentor be the mentor. That creates a structure which makes sure that that you really focus on one speaker at the time.

e) Push each other.

Do not try to make the other speaker become you. Instead try to see the specific strengths and opportunities of the other speaker and push him/her to do more with that.

I learnt so much today both mentoring Gil and geting mentored from him.

I am sure you will too if you find the right “mentoree”. So go out and fine one.

(Picture from our lunch as we not only “talked shop” during their stay to our island, we also enjoyed some island family time together.)

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(Most of posts on are about how to become better as a speaker. A few are about the life of a professional speaker. This post is mostly about the later.)

One of the best perks of being a professional speaker is all the interesting people you get to meet in your job.

The people who get selected to speak at conferences are the people that the event managers think has the best message for the audience, and the people that the event manager think that the audience really would like to hear from. Either way that means it will be interesting people with interesting stories/messages.

And as a speaker you automatically get a connection to the other speakers. (I have shared the stage, and gotten to talk to, some amazing people over the years. like Hans Rosling, Seth Godin, Richard Branson and many, many more.)

But a bonus effect of being a speaker is that interesting people also reach out to you.

This week, for example, I have been on vacation on my island in Sweden and yet I got to meet an AI expert and a space designer.

a) Lars Sjölund is running “AI Stockholm” and have been working with Artificial Intelligence for many years (way before it became the hottest topic in business). He has, for example, developed a logarithm to have a machine read thousands of x-ray images to learn how to detect brain cancer. We sat on the dock and he asked me about speaking globally and I asked him about the future of AI.

b) Cecilia Hertz has been a space designer for 17 years and developed everything from yogurt for astronauts  to interior for spaceships. We sat on the dock and she asked me about speaking globally and I asked her about innovation in space.

(Bonus Perk: When my kids got to meet a “real life space woman” and Cecilia gave them “astronaut ice-scream” (freeze-dried Ice-scream that they eat in space) they got “star-struck” (should that be “space-struck”?) and I scored many points on the “coolest dad around-o-meter” because I was friends with “a space woman”. 😉

Two fascinating and interesting meetings – while I am on vacation.

As speakers we get flung into an orbit with very many interesting people – use this fact to connect with other speakers and learn more about the fascinating topics that got them to speak. It might give you ideas for future speeches, and it is guaranteed to make your day more interesting.



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The conference I was speaking at in Paris yesterday got a bit delayed which meant my speech ended a bit later than planned. Then there were more traffic than I had anticipated to get to the airport in Paris so when I finally got to the airport it was 5 minutes left until boarding started (and I still had to get through security etc).

Luckily I had printed out my boarding card so it was ok to arrive at the airport 30 minutes AFTER check-in had closed. But that meant that my bag could not make it.

I asked my driver to take the bag back with him to my Paris hotel and grabbed my carry-on to rush through security to get to my flight.

What is the lesson here?

If you are going to check in luggage make sure that all the things you need for your speech is in your carry on.  A bag is just a bag and DHL can get it to you later. But you have to make that speech. And that means you have to make that flight – even if you have to leave your bag behind.

This post written when I am happily arrived in Malta.

(PS. Yes, there was a back-up flight that would have been able to take me to Malta in time for my speech today, but that would have had me on flights more or less all night and taken me to Tunisia for the connection to Malta which would have meant sleeping on planes and airports and arriving in Malta 1 hour before the flight, so not a very desirable Plan B, better than to leave the bag behind and get on that flight without it.)