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The Importance of Virtual Mentors (Part I)

A virtual mentor is a person/fictional character that has traits you would like to have. Once you have found that person, ask the question, ‘what would x do in this situation’.

It was late 2009, a few months after I had graduated from University and I was being mentored by my good friend Andrew Davis (CEO of The Worst Kept Secret, Advisor to Ofcom and former Content Manager at MySpace). I had met Andrew at a music industry event back in February 2009 where he was giving a talk on social media. I was in the process of writing my dissertation on ‘how to build an entertainment company using social media’ and Andrew was on my list of people to interview, so I attended this event to meet him.

Andrew was an inspirational figure in my development, particularly within the digital world. Like me, he has a no bullshit approach to marketing and because he suffers from Repetitive Strain Injury in his wrists, it forced him to simplify everything; Tim Ferriss esq.

Andrew was one of the first people to introduce me to the concept of virtual mentors. Now by virtual mentor I don’t mean a mentor you meet via Skype or a Google Hangout, that would be what you would think a virtual mentor is, but no, this type of virtual mentor likely has no idea of our existence or may not even exist in the real world. By Andrew’s definition, a virtual mentor is:

“a person/fictional character that has traits you would like to have. Once you have found that person, ask the question, ‘what would x do in this situation’. This will put you in a different mindset.” Andrew Davis

If I recall correctly, Andrew’s first example of a virtual mentor was Vinnie Chase. Who is Vinnie Chase you ask? Well, he is only the lead actor in Entourage. In the series, Hollywood superstar Vinnie Chase leads the dream life. The show is roughly based on the life of Mark Wahlberg when he moved from New York to LA to become a superstar actor. Vinnie (acting as Mark) takes his brother and two best mates with him to LA to live the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.

VincentChase

So there we were; Andrew and I were having a discussion about a dilemma I had and Andrew merely said to me these life changing words, ‘What would Vinnie do?’ And there it happened.

Boom! What would Vinnie Chase do? Well, knowing Vinnie he’d likely say, ‘fuck it’. That’s right, FUCK IT! Who cares.

I believe that’s actually what I answered Andrew with back in 2009 (I used to swear in 2009, I don’t now by the way). Immediately I am in the Vinnie Chase mindset. Not flipping out with an anxiety and stressed related breakdown, i’ve now transformed my behaviour and I can approach this dilemma in a new way. Score!

So who are your virtual mentors? You’re probably thinking right now whether you’ve ever been inspired by watching Phil Mitchell in Eastenders; hopefully not. But there are definitely characters (both fictional and real) you would be able to take learnings from.

Characters that have an ability to deal with dilemmas, break-through barriers and challenges, connect with those hard to reach individuals, have supreme confidence and are able to excel in a pitch meeting; funnily enough I am attributing these to one of my other virtual mentors, the one and only talent management agency head honcho also from Entourage – Ari Gold.

In the following parts on virtual mentors i’ll be giving you insight into some of my virtual mentors, how they inspire me, allow me to alter my mindset, take action and most importantly, how you can also benefit from virtual mentors in your life. In the mean time, if you find yourself stuck with a dilemma that is stressing yourself out, ask yourself, ‘What would Phil Mitchell do?’

Here’s the best of Ari Gold:

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