The Mutual Benefits of Mentorship

Lindsey Braun and his mentor, Micah Cooksey, are also business partners in Texas. The transition from colleagues to mentorship was not exactly clear-cut, but both men agree it is a mutually beneficial relationship in life and business.

In 2015, Lindsey Braun had just graduated from Baylor University, completed the AT&T College Hire program, and was working for AT&T in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was only 23, but hopeful his next career move would land him back in his home state of Texas, closer to family. Braun started applying to jobs in the Lone Star State, hoping to find the right team to join, or even the opportunity to create an agency of his own.

Braun stumbled upon a defining moment in his life and career when he applied at NetSpark IP & Telecom in Dallas. That’s how he met his mentor, Micah Cooksey. The two got together for an interview, and it was through that process they became business partners. Braun credits much of his success in business to finding and cultivating this relationship, which, today, he acknowledges is bigger than his career. It’s a lifelong friendship.

Braun and Cooksey recently shared a conversation about how to find a mentor, the importance of a mentor-mentee relationship, and the optimistic benefits that come from it.

“The world is full of people that would love to have someone invest in them.”

Lindsey Braun: Was there a defining moment when our business relationship transitioned into a mentorship?

Micah Cooksey: I can’t say there was a specific day or event, but we are definitely there. It’s something that happened over time. In the beginning, we had to learn each other’s personalities and how each of us react in certain situations. It is the little things that say a lot about a person.

LB: I agree. It’s not like I asked you to be my mentor, but I guess it could be like that for some people.

MC: Absolutely, and it can be a tricky situation to navigate. Our path was a bit more organic. By becoming business partners, we both naturally wanted what was best for one another. If we weren’t in business together, the dynamic would be different and our communication would be less frequent, considering you call me at least 20 times a day [laughs].

LB: It’s probably closer to 30 times a day. Did you ever have a mentor? I don’t remember you ever mentioning one.

MC: Not really. I’ve worked with some great people over the years, but none of them stands out as a mentor. I never had anyone invest in me as I have with you. I guess I feel like if I can save you from some of the mistakes I made over the years, then I’m doing a good job. We both benefit when we have stability and positive growth.

I’ve spoken to my kids about finding mentors when they grow up. I told them when they get older and think they know what they want to do as a profession, I’ll help them find someone to shadow. For example, Olivia (my daughter) says she would like to be a dentist, so I will help her find a few dentists she can meet with so they can share with her their journey and maybe a few things they would have done differently along the way. And Noah (my son) says he wants to be a chef, and I’ll do the same for him. If they can see what their future looks like, they’ll be more motivated to get there. Those types of interactions can definitely be the start of a mentor-mentee relationship, or at a minimum give them the confidence to approach someone who is more established in a field for advice. That’s how it all starts.

LB: That’s a great idea! I’ve noticed several of the people we work with at AT&T have mentors, and they’re the ones that seem to advance faster and move into leadership roles. That’s definitely a huge benefit.

Your mentorship has been important to me because I get the benefit of your experiences, both good and bad. The three biggest things you taught me is to slow down, remain calm, and always look for the positive. You’ve always told me to take time to think through my options, and then think about what could happen next … basically, to be strategic and not reactive.

MC: Challenges do come up. This is a messy world, and entrepreneurship is not all highs. The stressful times are when it’s most important to have a good sounding board. I recommend everyone find a mentor for at least one facet of their life, and also be open to being a mentor. It may sound silly, but everyone has something to give and the world is full of people that would love to have someone invest in them.

Video portraits by Dyar Bentz.

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