For advisor Keita Demming, co-founder of The Covenant Group, the process of becoming a mentor came through a few realisations. During the pandemic, Demming got involved with the Black Wealth Club. “It was only about eight months into that, that I realized having a group of black professionals around me was really important for me, especially getting through COVID,” he recalls.
Through Black Wealth Club, Demming received the support that he did not know he needed. He realised that others could benefit from the same type of assistance. “I have a particular skill around helping entrepreneurs. How can I return that favour in a way that can be meaningful to other people who might be in a position that I was in 10 or 15 years ago?” he asked himself.
A few years prior, Demming also read David Clutterbuck’s book, Everyone Needs A Mentor. Since then, he has been a firm believer in mentorship. “It’s something that we should all engage in, turn around, grab somebody’s hand and bring them up with you,” he says. Those actions can result in advancing other people’s careers and lead to a more equitable and fair world. “There is not a finite number of opportunities for a finite number of people. As we grow the pie, the pie gets bigger, and we all just get a piece of a much bigger pie,” he pictures.
Mentoring a fellow entrepreneur is mutually beneficial. As with any strong relationship, Demming understands that a mentorship relationship is about adding value to the other person’s life: “I believe both people are learning, and are benefiting from a growth perspective.” But it also kept him in check. “Going over the basics of fundamentals around building a business, I noticed that I’m not applying some of these things in my own context,” he admits.
Supporting each other through trust and collaboration can positively impact business goals. “I think people of colour have more limiting beliefs than others,” he states, adding that mentorship can unlock a vision and achievements greater than what we could have ever envisioned. In business or in life, a lack of representation can make it difficult to picture yourself where you want to be. Demming himself has experienced it throughout his career: “I found one person who looked like me. I called him up and we had a conversation. And now we have a conversation every six months, and just ended up being each other’s cheerleaders.”
Demming did the same thing with one of his mentors. “I didn’t know him, I called him up and said: ‘You are where I want to be in a few years from now.’” Creating this sense of belonging, he explains, made all the difference in the world for him. To this day, they speak to each other every couple of months. “Being a pioneer can be lonely,” acknowledges Demming. Thankfully, we don’t have to go through it alone if we get the support we need.