5 Minutes with Terry Johnson

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Terry manages the Maine Mentor Network and is responsible for ensuring that the network has the skills and experience needed to support companies and entrepreneurs in all the MCE programs.  Terry over 30 years experience in product design, technology development, customer support and enabling new product line growth at Texas Instruments, Fairchild Semiconductor, and National Semiconductor.  Terry is an experienced manager, consultant, and product and technology development professional. He is experienced in all aspects of design - product, program, process, and organizations. Terry’s current focus is to assist growing companies in transition to improved profitability and larger scales. He brings a business process and systems perspective to tie the needs of the business and needs of the customer to appropriate systems and methods ensuring high productivity and cost effective solutions. 

Terry graduated from Montana State University with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Philosophy.  He and his wife Karen live in Cape Elizabeth where they are active supporters of Special Olympics, Goodwill Industries, and all causes concerning adults with disabilities.

1. What kind of person makes a good mentor?

There is an article by Jayson Demers called “7 Key Qualities of an Effective Mentor” This is an excellent summary, but I think it really is about being a good communicator and having the desire to help.  Good mentors are excellent listeners, care about helping the mentee while being able to maintain the detachment necessary to provide perspective, and the ability to communicate their experience well - stories usually work well.

2. What do you find rewarding about mentoring?

Mentoring is great.  You get to know and understand the person or team you are working with and understand the issues and obstacles they are dealing with.  When you can provide the right question or the little poke that creates new insights, that is great. That is especially rewarding when you find those insights that spark creativity for both of you at the same time, it's a moment on co-creation.

3.How would you suggest a person begin a mentoring program if they have never mentored before?

I think it is best to start on a mentoring team or in a formal mentoring process if possible.  That way you get comfortable in the role and can start to develop the skills around listening and finding the great questions.   But even if you have a cup of coffee together to work on specific specialty issues, the mindset should be about being there to help and provide perspective.  It is really easy to try to jump to solve the problem, but that really isn’t the role. This is a role to help the mentee develop effectively.

4. How does MCE use the Maine Mentor Network?

The Maine Mentor Network is a great resource of experience and expertise.  We use that resource in all our programs to help the development of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development from brand new startups to companies that are trying to scale rapidly.

The Top Gun program uses mentors to help guide the entrepreneurs through the program and meet their short term goals while also providing specific skills as they encounter unexpected obstacles.

In the new Cultivator program, we use the mentor network to do deep dive assessments of the companies and provide an analysis of the companies readiness to scale and what needs to be addressed.  Then we can match the companies to specific skills and expertise and even help them find part-time fractional executives to enable their growth.

We are always looking for ways to connect mentors to companies as this is such a powerful resource.

5. What should I expect from a mentoring relationship?

Mentoring really helps develop your skills.  Someone from a larger company certainly develops their capability in helping others to develop, consultants and independent services providers develop their core skills of bringing the outside perspective to help their clients, but I think mostly is a sense of satisfaction from providing value to the mentees and the relationships that are developed.  

Mentoring is a great way to help in many arenas but for us it is about helping the entrepreneurs develop their companies and being a lasting vibrant part of our economic development community.

The Maine Mentor Network is always looking for great mentors. With the new MCE Cultivator Program beginning in April, there are even more reasons to join! Currently, we have a particular need for digital, e-commerce and financial proffesionals. Want to learn more? Fill out a mentor profile here

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