4 Tips On Finding The Mentor You Actually Need

When you’re going through shit, who do you turn to? When things get hard and you need direction, who do you turn to? Do you have someone who will listen and also tell you the hard truths? Do you turn to anyone at all?

In a culture like this one, it seems like our ancient “community” instinct — to seek help or guidance from our elders or mentors — often gets hijacked by the latest book, podcast, or Instagram guru who’s promising something faster, easier, or somehow “permanent”. I’m sure you’ve seen the ads.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned working in this industry, it’s that those things are not nearly the end of the story. For example, knowing what the “Five Steps to Getting Over Your Ex” are and actually doing the work are two very different things!

But there’s something else we bump into when we move past just “knowing” something, and it’s much, much deeper. It’s in this mysterious, numinous space — the place of felt, integrated, embodied wisdom — that elders and elderhood tend to live their entire lives. It’s only from this embodied space that you can begin to truly integrate and metabolize everything you’ve learned.

In my opinion, accessing this space requires some guidance, the same way you’d hire an experienced guide when climbing a mountain or search for a business mentor who understands everything including failure. I’m proud to say much of my education has been through the guidance of elders and mentors. And like all good students of wisdom, I still seek these people out as often as I can. Every time I do, I come back with priceless gifts.

So, I want to share with you how to identify people in your own life who embody the kind of wisdom you need in the moments you need them most


Take Stock

Have a look at the people in your life who seem to have attained a wisdom you might not have or understand. Who’s already in your network? Secondly, ask yourself: is there someone in your life you could be learning from differently? Start defying the default way you categorize people.

I’ll use my own life as an example. One of the first genuine elders I encountered was one I’d hired as a singing teacher, back when I was training my voice in university. He was a deeply intelligent person, but I’d categorized him as “just” a singing teacher. When I hit rock bottom, he morphed our lessons into talks on Buddhism, Jungian psychology, neurolinguistic programming, and a lot of brutal honesty about where I was at and why.

In my case, he defied what I thought he was, so I want to save you the trouble and ask you now: defy your own judgment of people when seeking an elder or mentor. There could be one in your contact list already.


Consider the Crisis

Elders and mentors have a weird way of showing up in your life exactly when required. Or, they may have been in your life for a while, but their words will only land when they match the crisis. Generally, this means that a good time to seek out an elder is when you’re going through a major transition. Things like…

  • Moving cities or changing careers
  • Relational breakdowns (recurring conflicts or sexless marriages, for example)
  • The 2020-21 Special: returning to the workplace (or abandoning a toxic one)
  • Grief, loss, and death
  • Spiritual questioning or spiritual crisis

You do have to search, but you often won’t have to look too far; the combination of what you need to hear and what you’re going through will (in a sense) allow you to notice potential mentors/elders. It’s similar to how someone who’s hungry is primed to see food.


Understand that Timing is Everything

In the case of elders, you don’t always need their help. That would defeat their purpose. So, when should you seek elder support? The honest answer is this: when you feel the call and know you’re open to that kind of guidance.

It’s a similar case for mentorship. What may be encountering in your relationship, business, or personal growth is a hurdle that you are required to leap over. If it’s an issue that seems to happen over and over again, then it may be time to seek out the lived experience of a mentor.


Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

How do you approach someone like an elder or mentor? First off, assume positive intent. The kind of wisdom you get from someone in this position will most likely kick your ass psychologically, but it will come from a positive place. It’s like a storm that brings rain to a desert.

Secondly, be clear and direct in your ask. In my experience, someone who carries elderhood in their veins will be direct as well, since they have given up the need to “beat around the bush”. And, if they can’t help you they probably know someone who can. 

Finally, in Western culture, we have a weird entitlement around learning. We want to be taught “our way”. Assume a real elder or mentor likely won’t give a shit about your comfort zone; they’ll teach you the way you need to be taught. I’m speaking from experience!

The wisdom you get from an elder will almost always feel like a shower in glacier water. It likely won’t soothe you, it may even anger you. But it will also feel like the sanest advice you’ve ever heard.


Man Of The Week – Jason Sarai

He left the comfort of the corporate world of finance to pursue his passions of fashion and fitness. Little did Jason know that what started as a passion project would quickly unfold into a more rewarding and fulfilling life choice. Today, Jason is involved in all facets of fashion and fitness, from creating his own bespoke suit line, to being a VP of Catalyst Kinetics Group. A man of values, Jason felt a responsibility to give back to the community around him, so he co-founded his own not-for-profit 1KARMA, through this and other efforts, Jason has been involved in numerous fundraising efforts, totalling over millions of dollars, to support local organizations like BC Children’s Hospital, Covenant House Vancouver and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Jason is a true example of what being a successful man looks like when one gracefully balances pursuing your purpose with giving back to those less fortunate. Please welcome our newest Man Of The Week, Jason Sarai!
Age: 35 on Dec. 29th. No point holding onto 34 anymore ☺
What do you do? (Work)
I left the corporate world of finance to pursue my passions in fashion and fitness in 2013.
I’m a Bespoke Stylist and CEO of Style by Sarai – a multidisciplinary fashion, design, image and style consulting business.  I started a bespoke suit line, called Jason Sarai, using fabrics from Italy and England from world renown mills. The suits are tailored and customized here in Vancouver, Canada.
I’m also VP of Catalyst Kinetics Group in Burnaby with my role focusing on fitness, active rehabilitation and business development.
Finally, I’m the co-founder of a not-for-profit business 1KARMA, with my business partner Riaz Meghji.
Why do you do it?
I’ve been passionate about fitness and fashion my whole life. Through my careers, I now have the ability to help people become more confident, increase their self-esteem, and put their best foot forward by assisting them to achieve their health and style goals. I work almost twice the amount of hours as I did while I was in finance, yet it doesn’t feel like work.
How do you make a difference in the world? (Work, business, life, family, self)
Several years ago, I was advised to think globally and act locally in terms of giving back to the community. My good friend Riaz Meghji and I started 1KARMA, a not-for-profit business, to raise awareness and funds towards local charitable causes and organizations.
Being fortunate to be blessed with health and opportunity, I believe greatly in donating my time, through mentorship and services. With my businesses, I’m thankful to be able to provide services to events that support various causes and organizations.
Since 2013, I have also had the opportunity to showcase well-rounded individuals that give back to their community, through my editorial series Men of Vancouver and Women of Vancouver for Vancity Buzz. The professionals I feature are hardworking, give back to their community, and are confident with who they are and the legacy that they are creating. I believe that sharing their success stories help create awareness about individuals making a positive impact towards society. They are an inspiration.
What are 3 defining moments in your life?
– Tearing my ACL playing for the second time when playing NCAA men’s soccer in Pittsburgh causing a change in focus from pursuing professional soccer to education
– Changing careers from corporate finance to starting businesses in Fashion and Fitness
– Marriage
What is your life purpose?
My life’s purpose is to pursue my passions, play to my strengths, and have a meaningful impact through my work and to give back/pay it forward to those in need in the community, both locally and globally.
How did you tap into it?
I want to make people feel strong and confident through helping them reach their goals and leading by example. Whether that is through work or my relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
Who is your Role-Model or Mentor?
I’m fortunate to have multiple mentors of various ages that I seek business and life counsel from.  I’ve always believed in surrounding myself with people that are smarter or better at a set activity, task or skill. Whether it was during my sporting career to my life in business.
Do you have any daily habits? If so, what are they?
Healthy breakfast
Working out
Listening to music
Social media
When do you know your work/life balance is off?
My balance is constantly changing. I’ve let go of trying to find an ideal balance as I feel that life will shift focus naturally depending on how I prioritize what is happening in my life at that set time, from a relationship, health/fitness and career standpoint.  Therefore my work/life balance is at a constant flux and I don’t see that changing for some time.
Vulnerability is a challenge for most men – share a vulnerable moment from your life with us.
A vulnerable moment for me was leaving a corporate career as an investment advisor to pursing my passions in fashion and fitness, starting from scratch.
What did you learn from it?
Through following my passion, I was able to feel more connected with my work and new careers.  With Style by Sarai, I had to follow my instinct and pave a new pathway as there were only a few similar businesses to replicate globally. My passion and commitment allows me to keep pushing forward, which has created new opportunities. I believe vulnerability has the ability to create opportunity.
If you are or were going to be a mentor for another man, what is one piece of advice you would give him?
Don’t set any limitations. Think and dream BIG.
How do you be the best partner (Boyfriend/Husband- past or present)
– You constantly have to work at your relationship.  Communication is key.
– Date nights and small getaway trips to connect, reflect and detach from the weekly grind
– Build trust, honesty and vulnerability
– Have fun
– Make her smile
Do you support any Charities or Not-for-profits? (Which one(s) and why?)
I’ve always been a believer in supporting organizations, societies and charities whether it is through volunteering, mentoring or financially.
When I turned 30 years old I realized that I was spreading myself thin through various causes without being truly connected to any.  I couldn’t comfortably state how my funds donated were being distributed.
Being in finance as an investment advisor at the time, it made sense to do my due diligence and understand exactly what my money and time were being donated towards.  It was at this point that I reached out to my good friend Riaz Meghji, host of Breakfast Television, about the idea of starting a not-for-profit business as we both were attending and supporting several events through work and our own personal network.
We started 1KARMA in 2012 with the goal to raise funds and awareness towards different organizations and causes every year.  We have worked with and supported Covenant House Vancouver, Camp Goodtimes with Canadian Cancer Society, and DUDES Club in DTES. We have raised approximately $50,000 thanks to our donators and corporate sponsors.
In September, I was invited to be a Co-Chair of the Nordstrom Opening Gala. More than 2,000 people attended a sold-out gala and fashion show and the event raised $420K benefitting BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre Foundation, Covenant House Vancouver and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
This past November, Riaz and I represented 1KARMA and joined 53 local executives and professionals of Vancouver to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth and Covenant House. This was our 4th year of sleeping out in an alley in downtown Vancouver to experience a small glimpse of the reality that homeless youth face on a daily basis. I’m proud to be part of a collective effort that surpassed the fundraising goal of $450K by raising $670K to this deserving cause and great organization.

Annual Executive Sleep Out supporting homeless youth and raising funds and awareness for Covenant House Vancouver
Annual Executive Sleep Out supporting homeless youth and raising funds and awareness for Covenant House Vancouver

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
I have two:
One Man Can Change the World – Big Sean ft Kanye and John Legend
Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Running a global lifestyle consulting company that focuses on image consulting, clothing, fitness and health.
What legacy do you want to leave for future generations?
I want to share my message globally about taking care of your health through fitness and nutrition and putting your best foot forward through style and fashion. Through this, I want people to become their own style icon.
What One book would you recommend for any Man?
Four Agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
If you know a Man that is making a positive impact on the world, we would love to hear from you! Contact us at [email protected]
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