Mentor Spotlight: An Interview with ICUBE Mentor Linda Kern

Once you embrace the absolute truth that every leader needs a mentor, you can begin to achieve the massive growth and success that you seek – Clay Clark

A trusted and experienced advisor is often necessary in order to grow both personally and professionally. Recently, the topic of mentorship was discussed with ICUBE mentor and founder of The Kern Group, Linda Kern, who spoke about her role at ICUBE, the importance of mentorship, and offered valuable advice for entrepreneurs.

Linda Kern has spent her career in sales and leadership and has been running a sales consultancy for fourteen years, advising businesses on their sales strategies and tactics. At ICUBE UTM, she sits on the Advisory Board and provides advice and council to three different start-ups who meet with her once per quarter. She is also running a monthly sales basics training workshop starting September 4th.

Below is the interview and the insights Linda was able to share with us.

Where does your interest in mentorship stem from?

As an expert in sales who helps businesses with their sales challenges every day, I have come to realize that I am highly motivated to help others succeed. I find running a successful business is very difficult and if I can be even a small part of a business’s success, then I have accomplished my goal and fulfilled my passion.

In your opinion, what are the factors that play into successful mentorship?

A successful mentor asks great questions first and foremost. He or she helps to point people in a direction that may be unfamiliar to them, however, helps them to leverage the skills and knowledge they already have. Modeling a behaviour is also part of mentorship; that is, walking the walk, along with the talk. A good mentor knows when it’s time to offer a solution instead of asking another question. Sometimes people just need an answer!

Who can become a mentor/ can anyone be a mentee?

I believe the best mentors are those people that have a desire to help others succeed. If your natural tendencies are towards solitary achievements, that’s okay, we need those people too, but you may not be cut out for a role that puts your own success in the background. The mentees on the other hand are those who are open to learning, think hard to answer the tough questions, and listen to advice. If you think you know it all then you won’t respond to a mentor. In my role as a sales consultant to other businesses, part of my responsibilities include mentorship. At other times I’m their manager, sometimes their partner, sometimes their coach, and sometimes their trainer.

What advice, both personal and professional, would you give to startups right now?

Drawing from my own expertise in sales, I would advise start ups to be crystal clear on who their ideal target client(s) is(are). It’s one thing to have a great idea, and entirely another thing to be clear on who you will serve, what challenges or problems you will solving, or what goals you will help your target client achieve.

What are the sales workshops you will be leading in September? What purpose will they serve?

The sales workshops will focus on all aspects of setting up a sales function within a business. We will start with a quarter-by-quarter sales plan, and as a result the participants will determine their sales goal, ideal target client(s), sales strategy, research and reach out to potential clients, set up a pipeline or funnel of the deals they are working on, learn how to sell to those clients, present, negotiate and close the business! It’s pretty comprehensive, but we’ll be breaking it down into small components, so they learn a little at a time over several months. By the end of the sessions the attendees will be setting up meetings with prospects and closing business. We’ll be there to support them along the way as challenges come up.

Why do you think it is important for people to attend these workshops? How will they help young entrepreneurs/students get started in their careers?

Once a company has reached their MVP, sales is the first thing that needs to happen. As we say, “Nothing happens until a sale is made!” Business ownership is all about selling your product or service, so every savvy business owner needs to understand how this works. Once the business reaches a certain size, the owner can step away from sales, but will need to know how it works so that he/she can lead the team until it’s time to hire a sales leader. Sales runs through many business interactions, both outside the company and within a company. You might be selling your ideas, negotiating a raise, or learning how to deal with conflict – all skills that include a component of selling.

For more information on the monthly sales workshops hosted by ICUBE, click here.


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Indigenous business training program created by RedBird Circle Inc. in partnership with UofT Libraries, ICUBE UTM and The Bridge at UTSC

An experiential learning program that follows the school 3 semesters schedule, for anyone with a great idea who wants to make it happen.

A boutique-style remote program to support your business development and help you grow through one-on-one support. This program is open all year.

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