Mentoring Archetypes: Who’s Your Favorite?

ABC’s Shark Tank has become one of my favorite shows on television. It is addicting to watch this show and root for the underdog and hope that various products get invested in by one of the sharks. I can even rationalize my TV watching as quality time with my nine-year-old as this leads to many interesting discussions of business! As I watched it recently I started thinking about mentoring archetypes and how important it is to be likeable to attract a mentor.

Can attracting a great mentor really just boil down to being likable? It seems to me that the entrepreneurs who are likeable with an okay product are more likely to get picked than those with a great product but a bad personality. Also, it seems that we have certain archetypes or needs that get fulfilled when we seek out mentors. If you consider your own network, a good success strategy might be to reflect upon whether or not you have various archetypes that play specific roles for you and if this is helpful for you or not.

Let’s take a look at the sharks (for full credentials of the investors click here!)

mark cuban shark tank mentorMark Cuban “The Numbers Man” – He is the first to let you know if the valuation of your company is realistic or not. He cares about the bottom line and how to raise it to the benefit of everyone involved.


Damon John shark mentorDaymond John “Your Favorite Uncle” – He shoots it straight and makes anyone he invests in feel like you can have gained not only a great mentor, but also a friend. You can feel great comfort in knowing that he is there is for anything and has done it and seen it all with style and panache.


Kevin oleary shark mentorKevin ‘Mr. Wonderful’ O’Leary “The Principal” – When talking to this guy you want to be honest because he will get to the bottom of it. He can be your worst critic or your biggest cheerleader. If you impress him, you should feel very pleased because he is a brutal truth-teller. If you get in trouble on your presentation, he will come down hard and insult the hell out of you but if you do well he will tell you that too.

Barbara Corcoran shark mentorBarbara Corcoran “Your Favorite Rich Aunt” – Don’t you just love that one aunt who loves you no matter how badly you play the recorder? Well that’s Barbara! Marketing genius she knows how to rebrand while bear hugging you into a higher profit margin.
robert herjavec shark mentorRobert Herjavec “The Devil’s Advocate” – He loves to sit back and let the other sharks battle it out, but when he speaks he makes sure it matters. This kind of mentor doesn’t get caught up in hoopla, so when he fights for something you know he means it!


lori greiner shark mentorLori Greiner “The Freshman” – She is in touch with Middle America and your ultimate cheerleader. If you are snobbish about how you make your money you might find her approach a turn-off, but this is one good-looking rich woman laughing all the way to the bank and if you are smart you will follow her there!
So what kind of investors/mentors are you looking for? Are they based on industry, likability, or both? Why should they invest in you? Are you likeable, and do you have a great product or service worth investing in, or both? What kind of archetype are you for others?

P.S. And a special thanks to my long time collaborator, Susan Murphy, for her thinking and work together on forthcoming article on mentoring prototypes.

Image Source:

About Ellen Ensher

Ellen A. Ensher, Ph.D. is a Professor of Management at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, USA. Dr. Ensher has an established expertise in mentoring programs and career advice, and is a frequent key note speaker and workshop leader for conferences and public and private organizations around the world. Google +
This entry was posted in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management Media Clips and Topics. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mentoring Archetypes: Who’s Your Favorite?

  1. When I first saw this YouTube clip I was reminded of the in class exercise we did that gave us each a color based on our personality. I think this is a good concept to apply to motivation, because just like different jobs require different forms of motivation, different methods of motivation may work more efficiently for different people.
    I will now try to link categories in the clip with some theories and concepts learnt in class.
    Theoretical- I believe someone theoretical may be motivated by job redesign (job enlargement and enrichment) for most jobs as they are knowledgeable and analytical. Challenging them through job enrichment will use these abilities.
    Utilitarian- I think someone who falls in this category would be motivated by monetary forms of motivation. E.g. commissions, profit sharing etc.
    Aesthetic- I think someone in this category would be most motivated by a flexible job like the one offered by SAS. This is because they like a balanced lifestyle.
    Social- Someone in this category would probably be motivated by working in a company that does a lot of extra community service. The theory of need for affiliation could also apply.
    Individualistic- An individualistic person may feel the need for power. Job Redesign could also work in their cases.
    Traditional- These people work with the mission, therefore the goal setting theory could apply.
    This makes me wonder whether it is really possible for a manager with a lot of employees to categorize them and really apply these theories? Are there simpler alternatives like maybe hiring certain types of people for certain jobs?

  2. Quincy Felipe says:

    This post reminds me of the Leadership discussion we had in class. We talked about different personality types including charismatic or transactional to name a couple. The same concepts apply here. Although likeability is very important, I think it all depends on the industry as well as timing. When it comes to entrepreneurs selling their products and ideas, likeability is very important in the beginning. It’s that first sales pitch that really hooks investors. First impressions are everything and it’s important to get past that first step. However, once a product or idea has been accepted, it’s important to be able to work with your investors. Different industries have different preferences of how a business is run. A bank for instance, is probably more focused on working with individuals who work efficiently and have higher levels of expertise whereas Toms Shoes cares more about a person’s values and vision.

    Likeability plays a role in this too, but there needs to be a balance of work habits as well. A person can be the most likeable person on the planet, but impossible to work with. Charlie Sheen, for example, is very likeable (not by all, but has a large fan base), however he has been known to be impossible to work with. On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg is not a very likeable person, but runs a multibillion dollar company.

    This reminds me of the different personality color exercise we had in class. I was classified as Gold and have a more business “get it done now” oriented mind set so working with an Orange could create some challenges. It wouldn’t be impossible but we’d need to have a balance of compromising and focus on team work ability.

Leave a Reply