From the day she started her own business, The Tendler Group, a medical market research firm, Sylvie Tendler found herself reaching out to leading entrepreneurs for advice. What she noticed was that not one of them turned her away. “Here I was meeting with entrepreneurs that had built up multi-million dollar companies, yet they always made time in their schedules to meet and mentor me,” she explained. It was because of her gratitude towards these mentors that inspired her to give back to young entrepreneurs herself. “Once you succeed, always send the elevator back down,” Sylvie shared one of her favourite quotes.
Sylvie’s passion for mentoring entrepreneurs started in 2007 when she was sitting on the selection committee as a Board Member for ProMontreal Entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, she was always able to zero in on opportunities that may have been overlooked or obstacles that may impact the respective businesses. Because of this, she asked the ProMontreal Entrepreneurs coordinator if she should meet separately with the entrepreneurs. This was the start of Sylvie’s mentoring career and today still remains to be one of her most fulfilling aspects of her work life.
Almost ten years later, Sylvie reflects on all of the mentees that she’s watched soar to levels that even they did not imagine they could reach. “Sales in the millions, offices that are filled with employees, presence in foreign markets,” she lists off. “I joke that tables have turned and now I need to seek advice from some of my mentees.”
But with the many rewarding aspects of being a mentor, just like anything, it still comes with its challenges. Sylvie explains that even with years of experience under her belt, it’s still hard to look a mentee straight in the eye and tell them what they ultimately don’t want to hear. “Coming up with a great idea, or a great product, does not make you an entrepreneur,” she explains. “Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. It’s all about instinct and instinct cannot be taught. It is not easy telling someone that you don’t think they have what it takes or that you disagree with their concept.”
This is the exact reason why mentorship is so important, to have an advisor, and have someone who has the expertise to be on your side and ultimately want to see you succeed. Sometimes, you need someone other than your friends and family to give you the honest truth to help you get to where you want to be. Sylvie explains that as an entrepreneur you need to manage everything and it’s impossible to have expertise in every area which is why mentorship comes in handy.
When we asked Sylvie who was a BDC Mentorship Award finalist this past year why she would encourage others to start mentoring, this is what she had to say:
“I think it is a ‘must’. Without question, once you have succeeded you must help others. It’s like philanthropy. It is so rewarding to directly help others and see others succeed. I think every entrepreneur was helped along the way and hence must do the same. There is no grey area here.”
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada