Mentoring Archetypes: Who’s Your Favorite?

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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.

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