When Mentors Hurt

I was very excited to attend a recent webinar about building a writing career (I’m being really vague and general so I don’t slander anyone). I marked the date and time of this webinar on a sticky note on the shelf above my computer which is where I write things that I want to make sure I don’t forget. I got out my trusty notebook and pen, sure I would have plenty to write down. At the designated time, I logged in to the webinar, full of anticipation.

I learned nothing.

This was less of a webinar and more of an infomercial. The only information given was about what the instructor (I use the term loosely) teaches in her course, which of course you have to pay for. I don’t begrudge her the opportunity to earn a living – we’re all trying to do that. What offended me was that this instructor promised a webinar about a specific topic (again, I can’t give specifics because I don’t want to be sued), and did not deliver, but she would be happy to teach you about the topic, provided you pay for her four-week class.

I left the webinar after an hour and twenty minutes. The instructor was still prattling on about her online course and how it’s going to teach all the stuff we talked about in the webinar. I looked at my empty notebook and realized why this incident upset me so much.

This woman was supposed to be a mentor but turned out to be nothing but a salesperson.

We trust our mentors. We model our careers after theirs (within reason). We want to learn from them. So when they say, hey, as a thank you for joining my mailing list, I’d like to give you this free webinar about (topic), we get excited. We’re eager to learn from this person. But then, we go to the free webinar, but it’s not about the topic of how to build a writing career, it’s about how to enroll in her class and what you will learn when you do, we leave with our trust abraded.

Mentors are wonderful, and there are many good people out there who can, will, and do help us create our writing careers. I like receiving offers of seminars and online classes and coaching and other opportunities to learn from my mentors. I want to learn from others, and I want to pay it forward by sharing what I have learned with other people.

But I wouldn’t have taken an hour and twenty minutes away from my writing time to view a webinar had I known it was actually about this person’s online class and how to enroll, and for just this low price, you get access to the class and special bonuses if you sign up while we’re on this webinar.

Honestly, if this instructor had delivered on teaching what she promised during the webinar, not only would I have signed up for her class but I would have been here on my blog telling everyone about how great it was and about her book. Instead, I’m here with a warning – if your mentor starts coming off all sales-y and will only share the promised “free” information if you pay, RUN AWAY. There are plenty more mentors out there. You have limited resources – do you really want to waste them on someone who doesn’t deliver?

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4 thoughts on “When Mentors Hurt

  1. I’ve had this exact same experience in the meditation community. I showed up for a “class” to “help guide my meditation skills” and it turned out to be an hour-long sales pitch. I was very disappointed because, like you, I felt that I had been misled.

    Not cool.

    • Exactly! I understand trying to make a living – we’re all doing that – but these people set themselves up as mentors and promise to “help” and offer “free content” when the help is basically having your hand held to sign up for the paid training and the free content is a bonus when you pay for the class. No one deserves that.

  2. I understand the frustration on misleading advertisement, hopefully that will not place a damper on your perception of mentors. There are mentors who have others interests at heart. Generally the majority of mentoring programs that i have researched will have detailed curriculum or information before hand to ensure your comfort. Unfortunate that happened to you.

    • I’m definitely not saying there aren’t good mentors out there. I know there are, and I’ve worked with a few of them. Thanks for bringing up the point that many post their curriculum so you know what you are getting into before you sign up with a credit card number.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

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