The 4 Types of Mentors You Need in Your Life to Succeed

Meet the 4 C’s–different types of people who make up a personal board of directors. Without them, you’ll have a much harder time achieving success.


It’s September, which means a whole new class of graduates–as Prince once sang–is getting “through this thing called life.”

That means along the way, you’ll need a little help from some friends. These friends are your mentors and you never know when you’ll meet them. You just do. Any successful person will tell you he or she did not get there without the advice and counsel of other wiser men and women. I have had many mentors in my life. I’m constantly asked by younger people how to find mentors and what to do once you think you’ve encountered one. I also wrote about how to develop a relationship with a mentor, which you can read here.

Equally as important as finding a mentor is knowing what his or her role is in your life. Sallie Krawcheck, the former Wall Street banker and now CEO of Ellevate, calls this your personal board of directors. Not all mentors are created equal. It would be unfair and an inefficient use of their time if you treated each mentor exactly the same. I have some mentors I speak to every day; others I contact once every few months. Knowing how you use people’s time, skills, and knowledge is critical in nurturing and prolonging that relationship.

Below are the four different types of mentors you should have around you. It doesn’t mean there aren’t more than this, but these are the most common ones. I call them the 4 C’s.

1. The Coach.

Growing up, your parents will be your first coaches. If they’re good, they’ll encourage you when you’re down, listen, and help you figure out solutions to incoming problems. The issue is that at a certain point in your adult life, their advice will cease to be as effective. It’s not because you’re too old for them, but because your career has outgrown their area of expertise. This is when you need to have older, wiser people around you who are more well attuned to your industry and job. They can coach you through tough moments, think big picture on projects and ideas, and help you solve work-related problems. Their satisfaction is knowing they are paying it forward by helping someone younger who has potential.

2. The Connector.

These are some of the most important mentors to have and they are pretty rare. Most people are very inward looking. Connectors are outward-facing people whose very satisfaction comes from helping people meet each other. I’ve met a half dozen true connectors in my life and without them, I would not have had as much success. Nobody knows why they love connecting people, but they all share traits of having bountiful amounts of energy and loving new ideas. They have a wide and very deep network of people who all respect them and they often “get things done.” If you meet one of these people, hang on.

3. The Cheerleader.

Before OMI made this word a “summer of 2015” song, cheerleaders were absolutely critical. These are the people whom you can call after getting a big promotion and they will be as thrilled for you as your mother. And believe me, nobody will ever be as thrilled as Mom. In a sometimes cutthroat world, you need people who will genuinely be happy for you and who will be there when everyone else has left–i.e., after your company has gone bankrupt. I have one person like this who will send me encouraging texts or take my call immediately if I’m having a particularly bad day. Sometimes that’s all you need to get you through. You don’t need too many people like this–sometimes one is just enough, but this person is your rock.

4. The Challenger.

This mentor is not exactly going to be someone you’ll be spending New Year’s Eve with because he or she is there to call bullsh– on a lot of things that will sometimes make you uncomfortable. But that’s OK. If you want lots of happy talk, call Mom. She will love everything you do. If you want to grow, you will want some challengers in your life who will tell you when they think you’re doing something wrong or if an idea just plain sucks. They’re the ones who, after you call the Cheerleader about your great idea, will tell you a dozen ways why it won’t work unless you do X, Y, and Z. This criticism, if it comes from the right place, will set you on the right path. Challengers are super smart and super fast–they often don’t have a lot of time so you’ll find they’ll give their dose of advice quickly and move on. Call upon them only when you need it.

Now I’m curious to know, what type of mentor do you think is worth including on this list?

10 Shop Niches Catching on Right Now

How to Ride the Next eCommerce Boom – 10 Shop Niches Catching on Right Now

When you try to start an eCommerce business online, you have several options. First you have your physical goods. Things like books, gadgets, furniture, and appliances are popular choices. Then, there’s the digital goods like software, e-books, music files, images, and so forth. Finally, there are the service-based eCommerce businesses that offer things like insurance, event tickets, writing, or web design.

You could follow a well-worn path in any of these areas. Those who opt to sell physical goods often use drop-shipping, so they don’t have to house any tangible items. Within this category, shop owners can sell everything from cookware to candles; books to Blu-rays. And the business model is a pretty well-worn path. But what’s interesting is how more and more businesses are cutting their own roads through the backwoods of eCommerce possibilities.

Within eCommerce right now, niches are dominating—people enjoy unique items. Buyers like the handmade, the interesting, the original. Mass-produced items just aren’t appealing when you can buy something beautiful that’s one-of-a-kind.

Don’t follow? Don’t worry. Here, I’m laying out 10 of the top shop niches that are currently proving themselves to be forces to be reckoned with. And with intel like this, you can pick your next eCommerce store’s theme and build something designed to dominate.

Handmade Jewelry

It seems like handmade jewelry was probably one of the first shop niches to really take off, I think in large part due to its versatility.

The toys and accessories from Anne-Claire Petit.
Autumn Harvest Handmade Copper Leaf Necklace from MamasCraftRoom.

Custom jewelry crafters can create all different designs and styles that encompass a wide range of motifs from vintage style pendant necklaces to charm bracelets to steampunk accessories.

Handmade Cuddly Toys

Another popular niche for eCommerce shops is crocheted and knitted toys. These handcrafted cuddly items are made with love and are often knitted or crocheted over many hours. The variety currently available is astounding!

The toys and accessories from Anne-Claire Petit.
The toys and accessories from Anne-Claire Petit.

There’s the traditional teddy bear, of course, but you can also find mini stuffed versions of cartoon characters, animals, TV show characters, and more. I mean, check out the selection of toys and accessories available from Anne-Claire Petit.

Posters from Designers

Designers have always offered prints of their works but the typographic and/or logo-style poster is a relatively new craze. The almighty T-shirt is still insanely popular, but the graphical poster has gained some serious traction recently and allowed artists and designers to make their mark in people’s homes.

The graphical posters & t-shirts from Glennz Tees
The graphical posters & t-shirts from Glennz Tees

We recently featured Glennz Tees in our Made By Series and while his emphasis is on t-shirts, the poster and art print side of the biz is booming.

Buiding an eCommerce site is all about those little details that at times may go unnoticed, but are so important to the success of your site. We have recently published an article that takes a look at some of those details, and also shares some ecommerce design ideas you should consider implementing: Modern Design Ideas & Trends for eCommerce Websites.

Unique & Decorative Pillows

Home Decor is a hot commodity these days online, including decorative pillows. Something that used to be just a way to add a pop of color to your couch can now make a statement.

Custom home decor items from Industry Home
Custom home decor items from Industry Home

Wild Rabbits Burrow creates pillows in the shape of a variety of animals and objects from pink frosted donuts to clouds. While Industry Home offers custom created home decor items, including pillows in a rustic style.

Hand-Made Accessories for Digital Devices

Just because you rely on digital devices all day doesn’t mean you can’t bring a bit of creativity or handmade style to it. That notion is precisely why accessories for phones and tablets are increasing in popularity.

Wooden accessories from Grove Made
Wooden accessories from Grove Made

iPad slip covers, handmade leather phone pouches, and pillows with accessory pockets (great for plane rides!) are all in demand.

Personalized Stationery

While it was always customary to get invitations created for big events like weddings, you can now choose from a much wider range of options for personalized stationary. You can even purchase custom designed stationary that you print yourself.

Personalized wedding stationary
Personalized wedding stationary from Jessie Thomson

Or, opt for handmade letterpress invitations. You can even indulge in stationary with your custom letterhead for writing longhand letters to your friends.

One the most popular platforms for building an ecommerce site is using theWooCommerce plugin with WordPress. If you’re new to WooCommerce, Tuts+ have published a tutorial series that will show you how to install and configure the plugin, and also how to add both physical and virtual products to your site. Check it out here: Getting Started with WooCommerce.


While you can find a ton of free recipes online, some have tried to monetize their efforts outside the typical advertising revenue you’d expect on a food blog. Some are selling their recipes individually and as a part of subscription-based services.

It might sound like a novel approach but it’s increasing in popularity and honestly, a pretty clever way to turn recipes into an eCommerce industry.

Clothes for Pets

Pet clothing as a trend didn’t stop when Paris Hilton stopped carrying around that dog in her purse. No, people still adorn their pups in sweaters and there are plenty of independent online sellers making handmade creations to fulfill this need.

Image Source

Take PupRWear, for instance. This online pet clothing shop offers handmade clothing, harnesses, collars, and other puppy accessories for outfitting your dog for all occasions.

Jam & Preservatives

Make no mistake, the niche eCommerce shop craze isn’t limited to just textiles. No, it also extends into the food industry. Homemade jams and preserves are growing in popularity with stores like SuperJam leading the way.

Homemade jams & preserves from SuperJam
Homemade jams & preserves from SuperJam

Handmade Ceramics

The last type of niche shop we have room for here is handmade ceramics. People have been making their own dishes and mugs for a long time but the ability to purchase these creations so readily online is relatively new. Take the mugs and bowls from Decorator’s Notebook , for instance.

Handmade ceramics from Decorator's Notebook
Handmade ceramics from Decorator’s Notebook